BEAUTIFUL MOSQUES OF THE WORLD:
THE GREAT MOSQUE: ALEPPO: SYRIA
The Great Mosque of Aleppo or the Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo is the largest and one of the oldest mosques in the city of Aleppo, Syria. It is located in al-Jalloum district of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a World Heritage Site, near the entrance to al Madina Souq. The mosque is purportedly home to the remains of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. It was built in the beginning of the 8th century. However, the current building dates back to the 11th through 14th centuries. The minaret was built in 1090, and was destroyed during fighting in the Syrian civil war in April 2013.
The site of the Great Mosque was once the agora of the Hellinistic period, which later became the garden for the Cathedral of Saint Helena during the Christian era of Roman rule in Syria.
The mosque was built on confiscated land that formerly served as the Cathedral cemetery. According to later traditions, the construction of the earliest mosque on the site was commenced by the Ummayad caliph Al Walid I in 715 and was finished by his successor Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik in 717. Architectural historian K.A.C. Creswell attributes its construction solely to the latter, quoting 13th century Aleppine historian Ibn al Adim who wrote Sulayman's intent was "to make it equal to the work of his brother al-Walid in the Great Mosque at Damascus." Another tradition claims al-Walid founded the mosque using materials from the so-called "Church of Cyrrus."
However, architectural historian Jere L. Bacharach writes that the most likely patron of the mosque was Maslamah ibn Abd al Malik, a brother of al-Walid and Sulayman who served as the governor of the local province (JundQinnasrin) sometime prior to 710 until at least the early period of Sulayman's rule. Accordingly, this would explain the belief that the mosque's construction took place during the reign of both caliphs. Moreover, Maslamah's governorship of Qinnasrin was largely ignored by the early Arabic historians, who focused their attention on his campaigns against the Byzantine Empire and the Armenians, and his governorship over the provinces of Iraq, Iranian Azerbaijan, Upper Mesopotamia and armenia. Bacharach further states that Maslamah's commissioning of a large congregational mosque in Aleppo, a major base from which to attack the Byzantines, would have "been appropriate, if not necessary."