The city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, has made international headlines in the past few weeks as the flashpoint of a bitter, bloody showdown between government and rebel forces. The ongoing street battles there may define the outcome of Syria’s civil war. But it’s raging around one of the world’s most ancient cities, one littered with historic sites and antiquities. Aleppo’s citadel, located on a hilltop at the heart of the city, is thought to date back thousands of years, to the settlements of one of the world’s earliest urban societies. Its ramparts bear the hallmarks of Roman and Byzantine construction, but the citadel came into its own as a bulwark for Turkic-Muslim control in the face of Crusader principalities nearby. No Crusader army could bring it down — though the Mongols sacked it twice and earthquakes over the centuries destroyed much of the original edifice. Recent Youtube footage shows renewed conflict around a fortress that has seen generations of war.
(READ: A brief history of Aleppo.)