The sun sets over Aleppo. UNESCO, which includes the Ancient City of Aleppo on its World Heritage List, describes Aleppo as having "exceptional universal value because it represents medieval Arab architectural styles that are rare and authentic, in traditional human habitats."
Aleppo was a major trading center on the Silk Road and its Christian, Muslim and Jewish heritage made it one of the world's unique cities, with an array of markets that recall the city's role centuries ago as a center for culture and world trade.
The Citadel of Aleppo's strategic location on top of a hill has made it a prime location for occupation by many forces over the millenia.
A chef displays a collection of fruits with Aleppo in the background.
Members of the Syrian Academy of Gastronomy taste Aleppine cuisine at a restaurant in Aleppo, which was once regarded as a center of culinary excellence in the Middle East.
Islamic Shariah students pray inside al-Kasrofiyyeh mosque and school for religious studies in Aleppo.
The entrance to the Citadel of Aleppo.
After 15 years of excavation on the banks of the Euphrates River, the French archaeological mission directed by Eric Coqueugniot at Dja'da found walls in 2006 that bore symbols of a bull head, or burcania, and are decorated with multicolored geometric paintings.
A worker cleans a mosaic floor discovered at a sixth-century Chaldean monastery northeast of Aleppo.
A daytime view of the city of Aleppo.
Tourists walk past a trinket shop in the Jdeideh, Aleppo.
Syrian chefs prepare a giant, four-ton pistachio marzipan cake at a stadium in Aleppo on July 1, 2003. Syria won its first entry in the Guinness Book of Records with the 200-square-meter (2,150-square-foot) cake, beating a Dutch record.
A man displays an antique rug, or kilim, from the Syrian Ifrin region in a shop at the main market in Aleppo.
A view of the Citadel of Aleppo from the roof of a home in Aleppo's old city.
A man sits in one of Aleppo's markets.
Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub and one of the world's oldest cities, has recently seen intense fighting between the Syrian army and rebels, which has imperiled its ancient sites and artistic treasures. Now, much of what will come next hinges on the battle of Aleppo. An Al-Monitor slide-show offers glimpses of the rich history and culture of Syria's most populous city.