The mile long souq running from West to East of the Aleppo's Citadel is very impressive with bazaars selling everything from carpets, shawls, olive soap, jewelry, spices and clothing. The quality is overall very good, and the souq is very clean and organized. Parts of the market are very old, dating from the 13th century, but the majority is from the Ottoman era.
The citadel is different from any others I have visited. It has a palace, a mosque, even a Hammam in it. But in the 12th century it was turned in to a fort during the Crusades. A huge man-made earthen mound was built then, leaving a large sunken area around it. The round Citadel is connected to the street by a bridge, very similar to medieval forts in Europe. The views from there gave my a good idea of the size of the sprawling city around it.
The Christian Quarter of Al-Jdeida is the most quaint part of town with lots of fine restaurants and boutique stores selling mostly jewelry. I walked there everyday from my hotel to get the famous local fuul at Haj Abdo al-Fawwal. They prepare the beans there with tahine, and olive oil. Tomatoes, raw onions and bread are served on the side. It is the best fuul I have tasted so far. In fact, the food in Syria is amazingly delicious and fresh. I had lamb kebabs and spike chicken swarmas that were out of this world. And fresh fruit juices are on offer for a dollar for a large glass, freshly squeezed. I don't think there is any pesticide, hormones or anything ungodly in the meat or produce here.
I had to put on a skirt and long head cover provided at the mosque to visit the Great Mosque, but it was a small price to pay to be in the vast courtyard, then sit inside the extensively carpeted mosque and mingle with the local women (there is a separate place for ladies and gentlemen.) The head of Zacharias, father of John the Baptist is house there, behind a railing window. He seems to be very popular with Muslims, as they lined up to view the site and pray.
Aleppo is a sprawling town and many areas are not as nice as the neighborhood I visited North of the University with very modern buildings and high end cafes and boutiques. But one thing is the same all over town. The food is very delicious and fresh everywhere, from the meat to the produce, the vast menu of sweets and hand made pastries filled with meat and cheese.
The train station is very nice and and the trains comfortable. There was no struggle buying my ticket and finding out where I should board the train. It took me four hours to get from Aleppo to Damascus.