Some of the medinas (old towns) in Syria date back to the Umayyad Caliphate in 660 A.D. when Damascus used to be one of the three holy cities of Islam besides Mecca and Jerusalem (left). To this day the medinas are the center of Syrian life, providing the citizens with food and everyday goods as well as social contacts and business opportunities (right).
In the souks (markets) of the medinas, people from many different countries and cultures have come together since ancient times and still do so today.
Sunlight shines through little holes of the Souq al-Hamidiyya roof in Damascus. The holes still origin from the nationalist rebellion in 1925, when French airplanes punctured the roof with their machine-gun fire (left). The mosques in the middle of the medinas with their vast courtyards offer a possibility to relax and rest while the children run around and play (right).
The covered alleys in the souks of Aleppo appear to tourist as coming directly out of „1001 nights“. For most locals it‘s just part of their daily shopping and business (left). Greeks, Byzantines, Ayyubids and Mamluks already fortified the hill in the medina of Aleppo in ancient times whose citadel construction was influenced by many rulers like Alexander the Great and Nur ed-Din who fought back the crusaders (right).
If you leave the main paths of the medina you‘re soon entering a more private and less crowded part where the people live and the children play in the small winding alleys.
Project: Two years before the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011 I had the chance to visit this magical country with its ancient history and its enormous cultural heritage. This series puts a focus on a central element of Syrian history and daily life: the medinas.