The was between the Bashar al-Assad government and the Free Syrian rebel army has cost the country of Syria dearly in terms of archaeological treasures. An estimated 60% of the ancient city of Aleppo, an 8000-year-old city that has been a hub for trade, education and cultural exchange, has been reduced to rubble in the past 30 months. For example, the Ummayad Mosque, considered one of the most aesthetic construction in the Muslim world, built in 1090 AD, still stands, but minus one of its minarets, which was brought down by government artillery gunning last year. This act was widely condemned by the Syrian rebels, who however, have acted similarly, in their bid to push the government forces out of the city. In truth, Aleppo's narrow ancient lanes lend themselves to guerrilla warfare, and often, the safest tactic for opposition forces is to use heavy artillery.

Aleppo has had trade contacts with Asia and Europe for many centuries. It was a center for exchange of ideas between the Orient and Occident, and was a fertile ground for the blossoming of many spiritual movements, especially Sufism. It played a particularly important role in the life of the 13th century mystic and Sufi poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, who moved here and spent a few years as a young boy with his father. He studied at a madrasa under Kamal Ibn Al-Adim at the Halaviye mosque. Much of his worldview and future outlook were shaped here. In fact, in one of his quotes, Rumi acknowledges this role that Aleppo played in his life. Though Rumi spent most of his adult life in Turkey and Konya, there was much going and coming between what are today Turkey and Syria sine they were art of the same empire controlled by the Mamaluks.

There is even an al-Rumi mosque in the city's Saffahiya district, which was formerly known as Mankali Bagha Mosque. Mankali Bagha was the Mamluk prince who built the place. Here is a cute little poem that Rumi wrote about Aleppo: “Does this road lead to Aleppo?” Your answer can be “yes” or“no” Your opinion doesn't make it so. Consult a map before you go!"