"Madrassa al-Zahiriyeh & Mausoleum of Baibars" Top 5 Page for this destination Damascus Things to Do Tip by MM212

Damascus Things to Do: 362 reviews and 959 photos

  Mihrab & Mosaics of the Mausoleum (March 2008)
by MM212
  • Mihrab & Mosaics of the Mausoleum (March 2008) - Damascus
      Mihrab & Mosaics of the Mausoleum (March 2008)
    by MM212
  • Mosaics inspired by the Omayyad Mosque - Damascus
      Mosaics inspired by the Omayyad Mosque
    by MM212
  • al-Zahiriyeh - Damascus
    by MM212
  • Muqarnas entrance - Damascus
      Muqarnas entrance
    by MM212
  • Domed Al-Zahiriyah - March 2008 - Damascus
      Domed Al-Zahiriyah - March 2008
    by MM212

Completed in 1277 AD, Madrassa al-Zahiriyeh contains the tomb of the famous Mamluke Sultan Baibars, final liberator of the Levant from the Crusaders. Although he was simply known as Baibars, his full real name was Sultan al-Zahir Rukneddine Baibars al-Bunduqdari, hence the name of the school "al-Zahiriyeh". The structure was originally a 10th century palace, Beit Aqiqi, where the father of Saladdin, Ayub, had lived. The son of Baibars purchased it and transformed into the madrassa and mausoleum named after his father. The entrance is topped with a muqarnas half dome and leads into a courtyard. A highly ornate funerary chamber is located to the right of the entrance and contains beautiful polychrome marble work and a frieze of striking glass mosaics clearly inspired by the mosaics in the Omayyad Mosque, only built 500 years later. For a while, this madrassa housed the National Museum before becoming part of the National Library, but when I visited in March 2008 and again in December 2009, it was undergoing a slow restoration project. It was unclear whether or not the structure will continue to function as a library after the completion of the work.

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  • Updated Feb 15, 2010
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