### nytimes.com December 26, 2010
Art & Design: Critic’s Notebook
Preserving Heritage, and the Fabric of Life, in Syria
By Nicolai Ouroussoff
ALEPPO, Syria — At first glance it seems an unremarkable scene: a quiet plaza shaded by date palms in the shadow of this city’s immense medieval Citadel, newly restored to its looming power. Foreign tourists sit side by side with people whose families have lived here for generations; women, both veiled and unveiled, walk arm in arm past a labourer hauling tools into an old government building being converted into a hotel.
But this quiet plaza is the centrepiece of one of the most far-thinking preservation projects in the Middle East, one that places as much importance on people as it does on the buildings they live in. The project encompasses the rebuilding of crumbling streets and the upgrading of city services, the restoration of hundreds of houses in the historic Old City, plans for a 42-acre park in one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods and the near-decade-long restoration of the Citadel itself, whose massive walls dominate the skyline of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and a gem of Islamic architecture.
[The real lessons that cities like Aleppo and Damascus can teach:] Their power is not just the beauty of historical layers. It is that the coexistence of those layers, often piled one on top of the other, embodies a world in which every generation — including ours — has the right to a voice and individual creativity triumphs over ideological difference. It is the point at which tradition and modernity are no longer in violent conflict.
Post by Elizabeth Kerr