12/14/2016 08:07 EST | Updated 12/15/2016 10:59 EST

Aleppo Before The War Was A Bustling, Historic City

Much of Aleppo has vanished, but can still be found in these photos.

This is Aleppo now:

A man carries a child with an IV drip as he flees deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Dec. 12. (Photo: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters)

A tank is pictured amid the damage near Umayyad mosque, in the government-controlled area of Aleppo on Dec. 13. (Photo: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

But it wasn't always like this.

The people of Aleppo once walked the streets in safety, shopped in crowded markets and sipped tea on patios — living a relatively peaceful life in Syria's largest city.

The metropolis — which encompasses the Old City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site — was also a tourist hub known for its citadels, bustling shopping centres and Islamic history.

In 2012, about a year after the Syrian unrest began, the city became a key battleground in the conflict. Since then, the city which used to be home to about 2.3 million people, has seen mass evacuations.

But not all have been able to leave. There are still an estimated 275,000 Syrians under siege in Aleppo. The life they know now is worlds away from that they knew just years ago.

Much of Aleppo has vanished, but can still be found in these photos:

View from Aleppo Citadel in May 2009. (Photo: John Higgins/Getty)

A store owner sits in front of his shop in 2006. (Photo: Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters)

A general view shows Aleppo in 2006. (Photo: Khaled Al Hariri/Reuters)

Aleppo in October 2006. (Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Umayyad of Aleppo Mosque. (Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The view over Aleppo from the citadel, a large medieval fortified palace, in 2010. (Photo: Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A shopkeeper inside Al Madina Souk in Aleppo in 2010. (Photo: Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Aleppo in 1997. (Photo: Ihlow/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Woman reads at a bar in Aleppo in 2009. (Photo: Marka/UIG via Getty Images)

People walk in the Town Mall in 2009. (Photo: Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

Members of the Follow the Women Foundation ride their bicycles to campaign for peace in the Middle East in Aleppo in 2007. (Photo: Wael Hmedan/Reuters)

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