The Association and Its Activities
The Old City of Aleppo, with its five thousand year history, is one of the oldest trading cities of the Middle East. More than 16,000 individual buildings, mostly with enclosed courtyards, go along with the residential quarter structures characterized by closed off dead end alleys. This historic old city, with its 360 square hectares and 100,000 inhabitants at the center of a metropolis of two million people, has been affected by great social and economic changes in the past few decades. A great part of the traditional quarters has become the residential area of the poor classes of the population. Founded in the Linden Museum in Stuttgart in 1990, the Association has contributed to preserving decent housing in the Old City as a part of German-Syrian cooperation. The guaranteed financial support since the founding of the association makes it possible for many residents to do the most important repair and maintenance work on their residences. In cooperation with the city of Aleppo, the Society For International Cooperation (GIZ), and the contributions of the "Association Of The Friends Of Aleppo", the aim was to reduce social segregation through the financial support of families with limited incomes. More than one thousand homes had been repaired and serviced until early 2011.
Due to the heavy fighting in Syria since the middle of 2012, mainly in Aleppo, an unstoppable destruction of the historic Old City with its traditional residential neighborhoods has occurred. The number of dead, injured, and refugees is large and is increasing from day to day. Bitter fighting is taking place, particularly in the narrow quarters of the Old City, and many of the residential buildings are destroyed. Therefore, one of the most urgent needs is immediate humanitarian aid - but, in addition also, giving people a roof over their heads both in the short-term as well as the long-term. For the future of the Old City of Aleppo and its residents, the goal of rebuilding destroyed or endangered buildings should not be abandoned, but ways should be found to support again families with little income so they can rebuild their houses.
With the destruction of the traditional residential area and the concurrent destruction of the urban community through hate and mistrust, an urban culture is threatened that not only includes the historical monuments, but also the language, the music, the lifestyle of its inhabitants and the communal life of different ethnic and religious groups in the densely-populated urban neighborhoods. This unique cultural heritage is in grave danger. Therefore, the "Association Of Friends Of The Old City Of Aleppo" is also involved in the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Aleppo.
As part of the German-Syrian cooperation, the Association has worked for the construction of a city archive in the center of the Old City since 2008, to raise residents' awareness of the cultural value of their own city. With an exhibition shown in Aleppo in December 2010 and supported by the Association, the work and the contents of the archive was made known to a wider local, national, and international public. The Association decided to continue these activities in the year 2011 and to summarize the documents shown in the exhibition in expanded form as a publication and to cover its printing costs. Just after the outbreak of heavy fighting in Syria, this documentation should encourage involvement in the preservation of the written and visual urban history as a part of the cultural heritage and also continue the documentation, despite the destruction, as a basis for reconstruction.
Since on-site support is hardly possible at the moment, the Association would like to help hone awareness in Germany about the armed conflicts, make public the suffering of the population living there because of it, and draw attention to the destruction of the city culture.
Interest in and sympathy for the fate of the Old City of Aleppo is great, the Association is gaining more and more members, and we would be delighted if you would join us as well.