Perhaps the greatest photographic pleasure of the the trip was found in the souks of Damascus and Aleppo. Trade is the essence of the Levant and these merchants in their tiny stalls seemed the last vestiges of millennia of trading history. The souk in Damascus was a large and straight arcade leading from the city center to the Mosque, but in Aleppo the souk maintained the labrynthine and claustraphobic qualities appropriate for an arab kasbah. Each small stall facing the tight passageways might have been owned by the same family for generations and manned by one merchant for his lifetime. In 2008, while some stalls carried tourist goods, the souk was still overwhelmingly a marketplace for Syrian shoppers.
In 2012 the souk and the Umayyad Mosque were partially destroyed, and in 2013 the minaret of the mosque was destroyed, a sad loss of heritage for the Syrian people and the world. An adjacent corridor to the one above after the conflict (CNN photo):