Last update:
19 June 2015
2 Ramadhan 1436

A Journey in Tripoli

Tripoli > History > Tourist Guides > A Journey in Tripoli AlFayhaa > The First Historical Complex


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The First Historical Complex
Inside the Mansouri Great Mosque
The Mansouri Great Mosque

Inside the Mansouri Great Mosque
Inside the Mansouri Great Mosque

The porticoes of the Mansouri Great Mosque

The madrassa of "Sheikh Hindi"

The portal of the Qaratay Madrasa
Plan of the first historical complex

In about one minute further, you may reach the first historical complex that includes the Mansouri Great Mosque, commissioned by the Honored Sultan "Khalil ben Kalawoon" in 1294 CE. This is the oldest and largest Mameluke mosque in Tripoli as well as in Lebanon. On the right side of the main entrance, there is the madrassa of "Sheikh Hindi", built in the 14th century, characterized by its colored engravings and decorations at its inner and outer sides. On the left side, is the "Shamsiyah" madrassa, the oldest madrassa in Lebanon, built in the 13th century. Above the madrassa, is the house of its commissioner Judge "Shamseddin alIskandari" characterized by its wooden manzara (belvedere or balcony-like structure).

Next to the opposite street is the Nasiriyah madrassa, characterized by the motto of Sultan alNasser Hasan ben Kalawoon located on top of its main gate. This madrassa was commissioned in 1354-1360 CE. Besides the Nasiriyah madrassa is the Kayriyah Hosn, a monument that was built in 1316 CE by the orders of Mrs Khayrieh Hosn, sister of Prince Asandamor el-Kourji of Tripoli.

From the mosque you can easily access the madrassa of Prince "Shehabeddin Karatay", one of the largest and most beautiful Mameluke madrassas in Tripoli and Lebanon. The madrassas was built in 1316-1326 CE and its portal emulates those of the most beautiful and stately mosques of Cairo and Damascus. From that point, it will be necessary to turn around the madrassa, walking through the Attareen (perfumers') bazaar, to reach the alley of the Prince to peruse the 10 Mameluke Sultanic decrees inscribed on the walls of the madrassa, the house of the Prince, and the gate of the Mansouri Great mosque. In addition, you can see the renk (logo or motto) of the Prince and the beautiful inscriptions and engravings around the windows of the madrassa. Before leaving this alley, don't forget to try the fresh traditional cakes with sesame at the Karatay bakery, a tradition that has been inherited over the last 700 years.

The Nasiriyah Madrassa

Karatawiyah Madrassa, Mansouri Mosque, and the House of Prince Shehabeddin Karatay

The Second Historical Complex
Children playing in the Mahatra District

The Red Gate at the Mahatra District
Plan of the second historical complex

At a one minute-distance from the bustling Attareen bazaar, you can go up a stairway to reach the "Mahaterah" district, where you can visit the second historical complex. The district is made up of compact and fortified buildings since it was used as a defense line that surrounds the citadel. A one minute walk from the beginning of the stairway takes you to the old gate of the district, historically named the "Red Gate." In the old times, this gate was closed in the evenings. On the right side of the stairway, is the Ottoman madrassa "Rifa'i". On the left side inside the "Red Gate" is the Mameluke madrassa Ajamiyah that was built in 1365 CE and the two facades of which are decorated with lots of inscriptions. The alley where this latter madrassa exists is the oldest, narrowest, and most fortified alley in Tripoli. Historically known as the "Alley of Secrets", it is considered as a life example of a constructional system that melds together the civil and defensive aims at the same time.

The Alley of Secrets at the Mahatra District

The Third Historical Complex
The Tripoli Citadel

The Tripoli Citadel by night

The main portal of the Tripoli Citadel

A cannon overlooking modern Tripoli from its citadel
Plan of the third historical complex

From the "Red" (Mahaterah) gate we continue our trip up the stairway for about three minutes. Our next station is the third historical complex: The Tripoli Citadel. This is one of the largest and oldest military fortresses in Lebanon. It was founded by the Arab commander "Sufyan ben Mujib alAzdi" in 636 CE. Later on, the Fatimids constructed a mosque inside it during the 11th century CE. The commander and Count of Toulouse "Raymond of Saint-Gilles" enlarged the fortress in 1103 CE. The Mameluke Prince "Asandamor alKurji" enlarged the fortress in 1307 CE and turned it to a citadel by building some towers inside. The Ottoman Sultan "Selim ben Selim the First" commissioned the construction of the northern tower that includes the main gate of the citadel.

The Tripoli Citadel is located on top of a rocky hill. It is made up of four floors and is 130 meters long and 70 meters wide. At the center of the citadel many structures can be observed. These include an old hammam (public bath), three prayer houses, a jail, a stable for horses, halls for the commanders and important officials, large halls (for the soldiers, ammunition, and artillery), wells, water reservoirs, basins, graveyards, large open spaces for military exercises and parades, and more than 100 rooms of different dimensions. The citadel also includes 10 gates down in its walls, some of which open towards the "Abou Ali" river while the others lead to the bazaars in the old city. The towers of the citadel are 15-20 meters high and include several cannon windows. The wall of the citadel is 2 meters wide and overlooks Tripoli, the "Mina" (harbor), the islands, and the route to Beirut as well as that to Homs (in Syria). The eastern wall faces a charming natural amphitheater of grand dimensions composed of the Cedars Mountains and the "Kadisha" canyon. The Tripoli Citadel also overlooks the "Takiyyat alDaraweesh alMawlawiyah", located some 200 meters western to the citadel. It is an Ottoman construction that was commissioned by "Samsamji Ali" in 1619 CE.

Inside the Tripoli Citadel

Rooms of the Tripoli Citadel

Old view of Takiyyat AlDaraweesh AlMawlawiyah

The Fourth Historical Complex
The Minaret of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque

The Dome of the Ouwaysiyah Mosque

The mosque of Sayyed AbdelWahed AlMiknasi

The Dubbaha Mosque
Plan of the fourth historical complex

A three minutes-walk down from the citadel towards the north will lead you to the fourth historical complex located in the "Samak" (fish) ascent. There exists the Mameluke "Ouwaysiyyah" mosque, constructed in 1462 CE, with its Ottoman minaret, built in 1535 CE. On both sides of the mosque are two madrassas that belong to it and the ruins of a Crusade church. Inside the mosque there are the tombs of "Mahmoud Beik alSanjak" (1621 CE) and of the Ottoman Governor of Tripoli "Ahmed Pasha alShalek" (1665 CE), that exhibits some Turkish inscriptions.

In about half a minute, you may reach the alley of "Sidi AbdelWahed" that includes the "Khashab" (Wood) caravansary facing the Moorish-styled mosque of "Sayyed AbdelWahed alMiknasi," built during the Mameluke period in 1305 CE. Right at the entrance of the mosque is the tomb of the Morrocan "AbdulSalam alMashishi." Near the mosque of "Sayyed AbdelWahed alMiknasi" is the "Bahaa" (splendid) mosque. The "Baha'a" mosque is an old construction that was renovated by "Ahmed Barawaneh" in 1750 CE and later by "Abdullah alBaha'a alHalabi" in 1819 CE. Near the mosque is the Mameluke House of Nobles characterized by the splendidly decorated threshold. The alley of "Sidi AbdelWahed" is semi-covered by residences, this is a common feature encountered in many parts of the old Tripoli city.

From the "Sidi AbdelWahed" alley you can easily reach the northern side of the "Attareen" bazaar and from there you can reach the "Bazerkan" bazaar, considered as the lively heart of the city. While drinking a cup of fresh orange, or carrot, or tamarind juice, you may visit the shops that sell different types of colored linen-cloths.

Fresh juice seller

The Bazerkan Bazaar

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