Aleppo’s labyrinthine souqs

Aleppo’s labyrinthine souqs – or rather souqs within a souq – have long been one of our favorites in the Middle East, mainly because it has remained relatively untouched by tourism up until recent years – especially compared to Istanbul’s Grand Bazzar and Cairo’s Khan el Khalili.

The medieval souqs are where locals shop for anything from women’s underwear to camel meat, and there’s the occasional backpacker haggling for hookah pipes and harem pants.

Great buys include olive soap (buy the soap the locals buy, not the soap packaged for tourists), Syria’s famous silk brocades and other textiles, and gutras (men’s checked headscarves).

These days you’ll also find stalls with their eyes on the growing tourist market selling jewellery, carpets, and brass and copperware, and spruikers on corners hustling for sales. But we prefer wandering the back-alleys, where the locals shop for their cheap plastic shoes, spangly fabrics, and children’s clothes, offering a far more authentic experience.