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Damascus – al-Madrasa al-Zahiriyeh
دمشق – المدرسة الظاهرية

al-Madrasa al-Zahiriyeh (المدرسة الظاهرية) is an impressive Mamluk-era religious school constructed to serve as the mausoleum of al-Zahir Rukn al-Din Baibars al-Bandaqdari (الظاهر ركن الدين بيبرس البندقداري‎). Baibars (بيبرس) was born in 1223 and first came to prominence as a commander of Mamluk armed forces. He was instrumental in the defeat of the Seventh Crusade of Louis IX of France and, a decade later, the …

Damascus – al-Madrasa al-Aadiliyeh
دمشق – المدرسة العادلية

al-Madrasa al-Aadiliyeh (المدرسة العادلية) is an Ayyubid-era religious school named after al-Aadil Seif al-Din Abu Bakr Bin Ayoub (العادل سيف الدين أبو بكر بن أيوب‎), a prominent figure throughout the early Ayyubid period and a younger brother of Salah al-Din Yousef Bin Ayoub (صلاح الدين يوسف بن أيوب). Construction of the religious school began during the late Seljuq period (1172-1173), but it was not completed …

Damascus – al-Bimaristan al-Nuri
دمشق – البيمارستان النوري

al-Bimaristan al-Nuri (البيمارستان النوري) was originally a hospital and medical teaching center, established by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zenki (نور الدين محمود زنكي) in 1154. The building served this role until the construction of the National Hospital in the 19th century. Today, it houses an interesting museum dedicated to the history of Arab science and medicine. The building is remarkable for its architecture, with an elaborately …

Damascus – Gates & Towers
دمشق – البوابات و الابراج

The old city of Damascus (دمشق) was once surrounded by extensive fortifications that included walls, towers, and gates in addition to the more imposing Damascus Citadel (قلعة دمشق). Much of these defenses survive intact, often concealed within markets and incorporated into residential buildings. While the city’s fortifications were originally constructed during the Roman period, what remains today largely dates to Seljuq and Ayyubid era reconstructions. …

Damascus – Bab al-Saghir Cemetery
دمشق – مقبرة الباب الصغير

Bab al-Saghir Cemetery (مقبرة الباب الصغير), located south of the old city, is the most noteworthy of the many historic cemeteries in Damascus (دمشق). This cemetery has been in use since the beginning of the Umayyad period, and several tombs are attributed to prominent figures in the early history of Islam. The attribution of these tombs is largely by popular tradition, often unsupported by any …

Damascus – Maktab Anbar
دمشق – مكتب عنبر

Maktab Anbar (مكتب عنبر) is one of the largest historic residences in the old city of Damascus (دمشق), covering an impressive 3,825 square meters. Construction of this palatial home began in the middle of the 19th century by Yousef Anbar (عنبر‎ يوسف‎), a Jewish merchant. Work was halted by 1887 due to the tremendous costs associated with the project. After taxes went unpaid, the house …

Damascus – al-Seida Raqiyeh Mosque
دمشق – جامع السيدة رقية

One of the most important Shia pilgrimage sites in Syria is the fascinating al-Seida Raqiyeh Mosque (جامع السيدة رقية). This modern, Iranian-style mosque receives a constant stream of pilgrims, mostly from Iraq and Iran, to visit the tomb of Raqiyeh (رقية). Raqiyeh (رقية) was the daughter of Hussein (حسين), the granddaughter of Ali (علي), and the great granddaughter of Mohammed (محمد). She was an infant …

Damascus – Beit al-Aqad
دمشق – بيت العقاد

Beit al-Aqad (بيت العقاد‎) is a beautifully restored Damascene house formerly owned by a wealthy family of textile merchants. It currently houses the Danish Institute, which opened in 2000 and focuses on the study of Arab and Islamic culture and on the strengthening cultural ties between Denmark and the Arab world. Elements of the residence date as far back as the Roman period, with the …

Damascus – Mohi al-Din Bin Arabi Mosque
دمشق – جامع محي الدين بن عربي

Mohi al-Din Bin Arabi Mosque (جامع محي الدين بن عربي) is a fascinating place of worship in the northern Damascus (دمشق) district of al-Salhiyeh (الصالحية). The mosque contains the tomb of the renowned Sufi mystic Abu Abdullah Mohammed Ibn Ali Ibn Mohammed Ibn Arabi (أبو عبدالله محمد ابن علي ابن محمد ابن عربي), who lived from 1165-1240. Ibn Arabi was born in Andalusia and gradually …

Damascus – al-Hanabaleh Mosque
دمشق – جامع الحنابلة

al-Hanabaleh Mosque (جامع الحنابلة), in the northern district of al-Salhiyeh (الصالحية), is the oldest surviving mosque in Damascus (دمشق) after the Umayyad Mosque (الجامع الاموي). It was the first monument to be constructed in Damascus (دمشق) during the Ayyubid period, built between 1202 and 2013 for the followers of the Hanbali school of Islam. The rather austere exterior of the mosque hides an attractive courtyard …