The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the possibility of reconstructing the Ancient City of Aleppo, which was demolished during the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011.
“Our vision is to reconstruct the Ancient City of Aleppo the way it existed before the war,” Mazen Samman, UNESCO’s associate program coordinator in Aleppo, told REUTERS.
There are detailed plans for the Old City’s great medieval mosques, souks, bath houses and citadel from an earlier restoration that should allow exact reconstruction, Samman said. However, although blueprints for these treasured monuments exist, entire districts of less-celebrated alleyways and traditional houses that gave the Old City its character cannot be restored.
The United Nations and international cultural agencies say they are committed to preserving and restoring Syrian heritage, but it will ultimately rely on local efforts. Local government initiatives are needed to ensure that the reconstructions fit the character of the Old City, both architecturally and in regard to the zoning distributions between commercial, residential and public spaces. Much also depends on whether Aleppo’s former residents choose to return to their homes and businesses, many of which are now piles of stones and concrete.
The Syrian conflict began in March of 2011. According to the Syrian Center for Policy Research, an independent Syrian research organization, it has left 470,000 Syrians dead as of February 2016, and millions displaced.