Presented the project for the reconstruction of the suq, the Omayyad mosque and the minaret

Palermo 232018 ( FOTO PETYX PALERMO) progetto per la ricostruzione del Suq di Aleppo presentato a palazzo delle Aquile

The project to reconstruct the monuments destroyed in 2013 during the conflict in Aleppo, Syria was presented in Palermo. Radwan Khawatmi, member of the board of directors of the Aga Khan Islamic Museum in Toronto, Canada, showed the videos shot in the Syrian city. And, in preview, the complete mapping of the interventions to be carried out in order to make Aleppo reborn. There was a video message of peace by the Great Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassun, the highest Sunni religious authority in Syria.

70 percent of Aleppo’s old town is now completely destroyed: it will take years to rebuild it. There were about 400 thousand inhabitants there. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture has “scanned” the entire city for nine months making the first complete mapping of the state of neighborhoods, streets and buildings. Experts at work, high technology, use of drones and 3D reproductions. The result was a complete and updated X-ray, the first ever, of Aleppo’s real situation and the damage the war caused. 400 study tables were created with the necessary interventions to bring the city back to its ancient beauty protected by UNESCO, with particular attention to the neighborhoods and buildings around the ancient Citadel. A long work that will cost a very high sum. For all of Syria, the estimated cost of reconstruction is $ 470 billion; and soon an international “fund” will be launched, to which many Italian entrepreneurs and patrons have already promised to join. Only to recover the ancient minaret of the 1100, Unesco heritage, the estimated sum is 25 million dollars while it will take between 8 and 12 million for the Umayyad mosque. It will be directly the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to take care of the reconstruction of the 21 km suq that with its 500 shops was the soul of the city. The restoration work (between 12 and 17 million dollars) has already started and will be completed in November, with the help of the Aleppo merchants who are anxiously waiting to go back to the shops. At work Italian engineers and local workers who are learning Italian restoration and conservation techniques.

In 2013 the Omayyad mosque, which dates back to the 13th century Mamluk period, was completely destroyed; that the Seljuk minaret, which dates back to 1090. The mosque is in the heart of the ancient city and Muslims believe that inside it is the tomb of the prophet Zakariyā’. The images show the vast mosque (the court with the famous two-colored stones that could hold up to 8,000 people) devastated, and both the columned arcade and the two fountains for ritual ablutions were destroyed.

The project, funded entirely by Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Aga Khan network agency created to revitalize, restore and revitalize developing countries, mainly engaged in Africa and Asia, was presented in absolute preview in Palermo, the Italian capital of culture 2018, from Radwan Khawatmi, member of the board of Director of the Aga Khan Islamic Museum in Toronto, Canada, alongside Mayor Leoluca Orlando and the Councilor for Culture Andrea Cusumano. “The Mediterranean is a cultural ocean that laps different countries – say the mayor and the councilor – to host this presentation, today, is the sign of the centrality of Palermo within this complex system in which today we talk and we support “vicissitudes. A message of peace that was raised by Gro Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassun, the highest Sunni religious authority in Syria, who wanted to send a video contribution.

“In the distant 965 it was the Muslim governors who moved the capital of Sicily to Palermo – says Radwan Khawatmi, a board member of the Aga Khan Islamic Museum in Toronto – This city represents sigh, hope, love and faith for the Islamic world: at that time, there were 40 mosques in Mecca; in Baghdad, 51; in Damascus, 79 and in Palermo, in 982, there were as many as 300. For this reason, today, we present here our project of return to life, stone by stone”.

The restoration of Suq Al-Saqatiyya has already started at the beginning of February, preceded by the removal of debris. The work for the recovery – in which the Aleppo University was involved – will last until September. In the meantime, we are also working on the recovery of the Seljuk minaret: the goal is to maintain the original construction plans, combined with modern anti-seismic requirements. All the collapsed stones have already been cataloged to rebuild the collapsed minaret, using as many original materials as possible; those that can not be recovered from the rubble, will be taken from the ancient mine from which they arrived 800 years ago. The work for the restoration of the minaret will start by 2018. Radwan Khawatmi, project leader for the reconstruction of the Umayyad mosque, will also present the updated numbers on the monuments destroyed in Syria since the beginning of the war.

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