Aleppo, probably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, has one of the most important old cities in the eastern Mediterranean region. The partially and heavily destroyed city is threatened by further deterioration and unorganized rebuilding works. The Museum of Islamic Art – Berlin State Museums is creating a comprehensive documentation of the Old City’s buildings. Thus, a worldwide important built heritage is documented for posterity and mediated as worthy of preservation in the present. The various documentations provide concrete help with the reconstruction.
Crossroads Aleppo is an important part of the Syrian Heritage Archive Project at the Museum of Islamic Art in the Pergamon Museum. Since 2017, it has been financed by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. Each entry of the “Crossroads Aleppo” Catalogue focuses on the following elements for a major historic building:
- Photos, showing the monument before 2011, based on the digital databank of the “Syrian Heritage Archive Project”
- Reports and materials concerning damages, carried out by the “Aleppo Built Heritage Documentation Project”, being part of the “Syrian Heritage Archive Project” (which is also financed by the Gerda Henkel Foundation)
- Art and architectural history of the buildings, written by Aleppine and international art historians
- Endowment history: the social history/urban historical background
- Memories of Aleppine people in relation to these buildings and its neighbourhoods in form of texts, voice records and films
- Detailed documents drawings and plans of the buildings
All texts appear simultaneously in both Arabic and English on a page. Due to the length of the texts, the Arabic versions of the sections “Urban and social historical background” and “Art and architectural history” appear separately.
Crossroads Aleppo aims at promoting awareness raising. This means communicating with Aleppines and Syrians about their city’s and country’s cultural heritage in their mother language, regardless of their political affiliation or economic and social status, to launch a discussion among the inhabitants of Aleppo, groups with different interests and experts. This also means raising awareness about the Old City’s values, especially in regard to social and historic value, responsive preservation and reconstruction.
Actors from all groups of society are invited to share their personal memories and document intangible heritage of Aleppo. The classic Aleppine salon music and the rich Aleppine kitchen are legendary famous all over the Arabic world.
A multi-religious and multi-ethnic society enlivened the narrow meandrous alleys, in which vibrant traditional crafts were vivid. The meticulously crafted mosques, churches, trade buildings and department stores testify for the beauty and wealth of Aleppo as a former trading hub on the Silk Road.
The project “Crossroads Aleppo” extends its interests to actively sensitize the national and international media, and consequently the public awareness about the importance of these monuments and their preservation. All texts are available in two languages: English and Arabic. In cooperation with UNESCO, the materials produced within the project will be available as a basis for reconstruction work.
The catalogue will be published on the Gerda Henkel foundation’s scientific platform L.I.S.A. Nevertheless, the produced short films will be published on social media as well.