Aleppo: a cultural guide (Sunday Telegraph)

I must have written more on Aleppo than any other city. Here’s my latest, a short piece in the Sunday Telegraph (6 Feb 2011).

Inside the Great Mosque, Aleppo © Gail Simmons

“On every visit, like the archaeologists before me, I discover another layer in Aleppo’s rich seam of history. This time I learn the legend of Abraham, who stopped to milk his cattle here, distributing the milk (halib) to Aleppo’s citizens, so giving the city its Arabic name: Haleb.”

All material is copyright © Gail Simmons. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, by any means, is forbidden without the written consent of the copyright holder.

Long Threads – Syria’s Silk Road (CNN Traveller)

My latest piece on the Silk Road in Syria has appeared in the Jan/Feb 2011 edition of CNN Traveller. Here’s the e-magazine (it’s on page 60).

Camels at Palymra, Syria © Gail Simmons

“A deep silence settles over the city, broken only by the barking of wild dogs and the call to prayer from the minarets of Tadmor, the modern village that grew up after the Bedouin were turfed out of the ruins when the archaeologists moved in.

Like that other great desert city, Petra, Palmyra made her fortune by charging levies on the goods that passed through her gates. But the Silk Road was much more than a trade route where money changed hands. It was a meeting place where ideas were exchanged, cultures mixed and artistic influences spread.”

All material is copyright © Gail Simmons. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, by any means, is forbidden without the written consent of the copyright holder.

A short walk in Syria (Sunday Telegraph)

My latest feature, published in the Sunday Telegraph, about walking in Syria.

Dier Mar Musa, Syria © Gail Simmons

“Clinging to the mountainside high above the desert, and seemingly part of the rock, Deir Mar Musa is only visible when you stumble upon it. We ducked through the tiny entrance and found ourselves in a building created by a sixth-century Abyssinian hermit. The current monastic church dates mostly from the 11th and 12th centuries, and is embellished with the most glorious frescoes. Walking inside, my eyes adjusting to the gloom, was like entering an Italian church except for the Syriac inscriptions and plush Oriental carpets and cushions around the painted Apostles.”

All material is copyright © Gail Simmons. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, by any means, is forbidden without the written consent of the copyright holder.