carved flutes are made of local bamboo and produce a clear and beautiful sound. Yuping flutes are traditional local products that have gone on to win international prizes. * '''Ethnic Silver Articles''' - Two ethnic groups, the Miao and Gejia, are famous for silver smithing. Both groups produce headgear, necklaces and bracelets. Each type has its distinct shapes, patterns and motifs. Miao ornaments mainly use dog, cat, horse, insect, flower or bird motifs. The Gejia prefer sun, stars, dragon
. Its old city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Understand 400px thumb The Aleppo Citadel (Image:AlepQalat.jpg) As it is in any Muslim country, the call to prayer is called out from mosques five times a day starting in the early morning. It can be a beautiful sound. Aleppo is a fairly conservative city. Dress appropriately to avoid any problems and to avoid standing out too much. Men should wear shirts and trousers and women should not wear anything that is too revealing. If you follow that simple dress code you should not have any problems. Head scarves are not necessary unless you want to enter a mosque but even then grey robes are available at no extra charge. There are no hostile feelings towards Americans or Westerners in general (although Americans tend to be subjected to more scrutiny by the authorities than other nationalities). You could, however, find yourself in trouble if you engage in open criticism of and against the Syrian government or the president. Your best bet is to avoid political conversations all together just to avoid any possible problems. If you do engage in political discussions with Syrians, be aware that they might face intense questioning by the secret police if you are overheard. As a general rule, always assume that you are being watched by the plain-clothes policemen (''mukhabarat''). You will notice that not many uniformed policemen can be seen in the streets, but this is because the police have a wide network of plain-clothes officers and informants. Friday is a holy day and most shops and historic sites are closed so plan accordingly for this. Stealing is looked down upon and thus is not very common. Crime is generally low and you should feel safe to walk around in any part of the city at any time day or night. But as in any city, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings, particularly in the souk. Meals are a bit later than in the U.S. but similar to the times in some European countries. Lunch is from 1 to 3 and dinner around 8pm. Syrians take a siesta in the middle of the day, from about 3 to 6, but this means that the night life is very active. You can return to the markets and public squares that you visited during the day and by 10pm they will be bustling with people selling food and treats and drinks. It is a like a street fair every night. Aleppo is a beautiful and historic city that anyone who is considering a trip to the Middle East should go see. Get in Aleppo is close to the main border crossing with Turkey. You will need a visa to enter into Syria. It is typically more convenient to secure a visa in your home country as the consulates in Turkey do not usually issue tourist visas. How you get the visa varies by country so check with a travel agent or consult. Citizens of the predominantly Arab nations, as well as Turkish citizens as of 2009, do not require a visa. At the border, most nationalities can secure a 2 week transit visa in 20–30 minutes. American passport holders, however, will have to wait between 3 to 10 hours to secure a transit visa, as the border guards must fax Damascus to check with Syrian intelligence, and may be turned away. A transit visa is US$16, payable in USD or SYP. Each border post has a branch of the Central Bank of Syria to exchange currencies. There are no facilities for credit debit cards. Travellers cheques are also not accepted. Remember that there is a departure fee of 500 SYP. Aleppo has quite extensive public transport connections with Turkish (Turkey) cities just north of the border. There are at least two daily '''bus minibus''' services from Antioch (Antakya) (3hr), costing S£250 (bus service) or S£350 (minibus). Gaziantep, on the other hand, has twice weekly '''trains''' to Aleppo (5hr, departing from Gaziantep at 8:30PM on Tuesdays and Fridays and arrive five hours later in Aleppo, at an inconvenient 1:29AM after midnight), costing €12.75 pp one-way. There is also a once-weekly train service from Mersin on Turkish Mediterranean coast (Mediterranean Turkey), also calling at Adana. Trains depart from Mersin at 11PM on Fridays and call at Adana station around midnight. They arrive in Aleppo at 8:10AM next morning and cost € 14 € 13 pp from Mersin Adana respectively. From Lebanon several daily buses leave from Beirut's Charles Helou bus station going via Tripoli and Homs. Currently the prices have inflated quite a bit due to the Syrian conflict (April 2014) Get around Taxis are everywhere, probably more taxis than people. They are easy to take and very affordable but just make sure it is a licensed taxi. Minibuses: Called "serveece", these are small white vans that drive around and you can hop on and off by signalling to the driver. 10 lira per journey. They get very full in rush hours. Rental Cars: Hertz and other rental car agencies are available in Aleppo but the driving can be very hectic and if you are not accustomed to driving in a place with few rules and almost no regard for street signs you should probably not attempt to drive on your own. See * '''The citadel''' sits on a hill in the centre of the city and is visible from almost anywhere. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, but the current structure dates from the 13th century. There are tours daily. It costs 150 SP to enter or 10 SP with a student card, as of November 2007. Once inside, there are no signs or explanations of the site so a guidebook is handy. There is a café inside the Citadel. thumb A quiet moment in the Aleppo Souq on Friday (Image:AlepSouq.jpg) * '''The Souq''': There are multiple souqs in the city including a covered section. All of the shopping you could want to do from gold and silver, boxes, clothing, fabric and soaps can be found in the various souqs. Bargaining is encouraged and if you know Arabic it will get you a much better price. * '''Bimaristan Arghan''' is a beautiful mental hospital turned into a museum. Entrance is free and you can wander around and look at exhibits, which include old medical equipment, herbs, biographies of famous Arab scientists and other interesting artifacts. The main attractions, however, are the courtyard and two separate spaces reserved for the mentally ill. * '''Saint Simeon's basilica''' (Qalaat Sam'aan): Located 30 miles outside of Aleppo this is an old church that was dedicated to the famous hermit, St Simeon the Stylite. This church was built around the pillar on which Simeon lived and prayed and became a major centre of pilgrimage. There are guided tours. The grounds are beautiful and it is nice to get away from the city for a day. The best way to get there is to hire a taxi in Aleppo to go the whole way, or more economically to take a microbus to the nearest town (Dar Ta'ze) and bargain with the driver to take you the extra 2 km to the church. * '''The Great Mosque''': There are many mosques in the city but this is the largest and most ornate. Do Walk around the city at least a few times to really get a feel for what it is like. It is a vibrant and lively place that will continually surprise you. Any amount of time spent walking around the city will reveal another historical site or point of interest. Check out the Christian section of the city to see a different part of Aleppo. If you want to shop for clothes, al-Telal street is bustling nearly every night with crowds checking out the shops and street stands piled high with every type of clothing imaginable. Buy Gold: Although the prices are as high as they have ever been, gold is still a worthwhile purchase here. There is a special gold pattern called the Aleppo weave or chain that is made only in Aleppo. All gold is sold by weight and is 22 carat. Boxes: Aleppo is also famous for its intricate inlay work that can be found in boxes of all shapes and sizes. These boxes are beautiful and can be found at almost all of the shops in the souq. A great, affordable gift to take home. Wraps Tablecloths: There are many nice wraps that can be worn as shawls or used as tablecloths that are also available everywhere in the souqs. Another good gift. thumb Sweets with pistachios (Image:AlepFustuq.jpg) Sweets: Pistachios are everywhere in Aleppo and accordingly there are many different kinds of sweets made from the pistachio. These usually come in a decorative box and are yet another good gift. Coffee and spices: It is impossible to walk through the souq without being caught up in the scent of freshly ground coffee and spices like cumin. You can also buy very ornate pots to make your coffee in. Soap: One of the most famous Aleppine products is its olive oil soap. Many factories produce this using traditional techniques. The price varies from about 70SP per kilo to as much as 400 SP or more depending on the proportion of olive and laurel oil, prices and assortment is better in the shops just in the 2 roads south of the Clock Tower rather than in the Souq's tourist traps, even if most shop keepers speak very little English (prices per kilo are clearly shown). Eat Common Syrian street food like falafels and shwarma are excellent and available throughout the city. In the souks you will also find tiny restaurants with a few stools serving up dishes like Fuul (pronounced “fool”), a bean soup served with fresh bread, onions and mint. If you are adventurous, look for the men frying curry-flavoured pancakes near the entrance to the souk. The pancakes are wrapped in bread and topped with hot sauce. Also try and buy some of the freshly made pita bread that is sold everywhere as it is delicious. For breakfast, a fresh glass of juice (40 SP for a large glass of mixed juice, 50 SP for takeaway) and cheese sandwich (15 SP) can be had from the juice stands near the clock tower. Many cafés also serve great ice cream for a treat. If you are tired after a day of wandering around the souk, try one of the cafés near the base of the citadel. They offer light snacks and drinks, including a wide range of coffees and refreshing glasses of minted lemonade. Travellers on a strict budget should be prepared to eat very similar meals everyday as there is not a lot of variety in the diet at the cheaper end of the range. There are plenty of good restaurants around and meals are very affordable. In the Christian Quarter (El Jedeide) district * WikiPedia:Aleppo commons:Aleppo
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