Little remains of the original structure, and what you see today dates mostly from the 12th century and later. But it has been recently restored to gleaming beauty and is no less fascinating than its Damascene counterpart to visit.
History of the Great Mosque of Aleppo
The Great Mosque or Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, was built on the site of a former Roman temple and Byzantine cathedral built by St. Helen (mother of Constantine the Great). The mosque was founded by the Umayyad Caliph al Walid in 715 and completed by his successor Caliph Suleiman.
Throughout its history the building has endured multiple renovations and reconstructions in response to natural disasters (earthquakes and fire) and to modify its use, resulting in the development of its surroundings. Nur al Din rebuilt it in 1169 after a great fire and the mosque was destroyed yet again during the Mongol invasion of 1260.
The Great Mosque of Aleppo has recently (2003-04) undergone an extensive renovation, during which the courtyard and the minaret were especially restored.
What to See at the Great Mosque of Aleppo
In contrast to the comparably intact Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, the Great Mosque of Aleppo bears little resemblance to its original form; it is instead a combination of fragments that record the city's history.
The oldest part of the mosque is the prominent and noteworthy square 45-meter minaret. The minaret's earliest restoration dates to 1090 during the Seljuk dynasty. The minaret boasts intricate bands of carved Kufic inscriptions along its length that alternate with bands of stylized ornaments in patterns and muqarnas.
The mosque is arranged around a vast courtyard that connects to different areas of the mosque that are placed behind the colonnaded arcade. The courtyard is famed for its pavement of black and white geometric patterns and the façade is well decorated with intricately cut and variously colored stones. The courtyard contains two ablutions fountains.
In the main prayer hall are: the shrine of Zachariah (father of John the Baptist), a 15th century wood-carved minbar (pulpit), and an elaborately carved mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca).
The prayer hall originally had a basic straight rooftop with a central dome but was replaced by the Mamluks with an intricate cross-vaulted system with arches and a small dome over the arcades.
Quick Facts on the Great Mosque of Aleppo
|Names:||Great Mosque of Aleppo|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||36.199265° N, 37.156792° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Great Mosque of Aleppo|
- "Great Mosque of Aleppo" - ArchNet Digital Library
- "Great Mosque (Umayyad Mosque)" - Syria Gate (2006)
Map of the Great Mosque of Aleppo
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Great Mosque of Aleppo. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.