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History of Tripoli

The Mameluke Period (14th Century CE)

Tripoli > History > The Mameluke Period > History of the Mameluke Architecture in Tripoli (Part I)

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History of the Mameluke Architecture in Tripoli (Part I)
The Mameluke Governorate of Tripoli
The Mameluke Governorate of Tripoli.

All the Sultanate representatives in Tripoli considered building several monuments in the new city. Beginning with the first Mamluk ruler, Seyfedeen Balaban Tabbakhi (689-691 H/CE 1290-1292), the search for strategic locations to keep the soldiers began in order to erect tight defensive constructions to guard the State of Tripoli and its coasts. The Vice Sultan Prince Ezzedeen Aybeck Mawsili (694-698 H/ CE 1295-1299), ordered the construction of many monuments some of which are: the Zourakieh school in Souwaika (Small Bazaar) region on the eastern bank of the river (697 H/ CE 1298), Ezzedeen Hammam (bath) in Bab ElHadid (Irons Gate) region at the center of the Mamluk city, the Mawsili pool in Mallaha district, Ezzedeen palace with its grave, as well as the Bimaristan (hospital) on the western side of the river in Bab ElHadid. Before the end of the 7th Hegira century/ CE 13th, the palace of Prince Seyfedeen Altintash was built on the western side of the river. When Prince Seyfedeen Asandamor Kourji ruled Tripoli state (698-709 H/CE 1299-1309), prosperous constructions emerged in all directions. By the grace of Asandamor and his Mamluk assistants that the biggest part of the city was established. The markets of the city extended north and south. Asandamor also ordered the building of a bath, known as Asandamor Bath, on the eastern side of Tripoli river in 705 H/ CE 1305 Next to the bath, he constructed a market known as Weapons Market. He also built a grinder on the river and another one in Kafer Kahel village in Koura region south-east to Tripoli. He also built Kisaria (Khan) [Asandamor Kisaria]. He widened Saint Jil Fort and changed it to a big castle in 707 H/ CE 1307. He supplied the houses with water canals and built more than one military tower at the seaside. The grace is up to him in building the old trading and dwelling area, which is known at present as Souwaika, known before as Asandamor Souwaika. He also built another market at the southern side of the city known as Khail Souwaika (Horses Small Market), where the Mouallak mosque and the New Bath exist nowadays. In his book, Nouwairi, the historian, wrote: "The Prince Saif Eldeen Asandamor Kourji Mansouri was appointed as Sultan representative till 709 H He built (in Tripoli) a great bath, that attracted all the traders and visitors of the country, who agreed on the fact that no similar bath was built before in any country. He also built a Kisaria, and a grinder. His Mamluks built, in Tripoli, nicely constructed houses to which water runs in canals that reach the upper floors. He also built part of the castle and constructed towers. The castle was near the Sultan house in Tripoli. Asandamor became a powerful ruler and many of his Mamluks were appointed as princes". His Mamluks reached about 500 persons. One of these is Prince Sonkor Ben AbdEllah Nouri, who built many constructions in Tripoli. Most probably, the Nouri Bath and the Nouri school were two of these constructions. Prince Nouri lived in a place next to the Mansouri great mosque. That place was, then, given his name and is still known as Nouri Mahalet (district). Eben AlJazari, the historian, said that he (Prince Nouri) bought properties from which he could earn 18,000 Dirhem every year. From that, he used to give 1,000 Dirhem every month to poor people. He stayed in Tripoli during the rule of Asandamor until after the rule of Akoush Afram, i.e., after 712 H/ CE 1312.


Mameluke Coins
Mameluke Coins made in Tripoli.

In 705 H/ CE 1305, AbdelWahed Miknasi built a mosque, and near to it he built an apartment with seven rooms in which Moroccans used to stay. In 707 H/ CE 1307, Prince Aladdin Aydoghumush Merdani, charged of inspecting Tripoli';s harbor, built a school that carries his name. At about 710 H/ CE 1310, Prince Isa Ben Omar Bourtasi built a mosque on the western bank of Tripoli';s river. He was in charge of inspecting the government offices (Dawaween). The Tawbeh mosque, located in Dabbaghagh district on the western side of the river, was also constructed in the same period by the order of Sultan Nasser Mohammed. The mosque was mentioned in the old historical records as the Nassiri mosque. In 723 H/ CE 1323, Prince Sonkor Saadi settled in Tripoli. He was interested in agriculture, so he planted the seaside of the city, where he owned 30 orchards and raised several constructions. He died in 728 H/ CE 1328. Prince Alameddeen Sanjer Homsi was appointed as Shad (inspector at the Sultanate offices). He built a school, a palace, and several shops in a district that carried his name (Homsi Square) at about 724 H/ CE 1324. This district is know nowadays as Tarbiaah Square. In 726 H/ CE 1326, the wooden pulpit (Minbar) of the Mansouri great mosque, was made by the order of Prince Kartay. In 716 H/ CE 1316, ElHasan Ben Ramadan Ben Hasan Karmi was appointed as the judge of Shafiiyeh in Tripoli until 723 H/ CE 1323. He stayed in Tripoli until he died in 746 H/ CE 1345. During his residence in the city, he built a bath, a Zawiah (a small school for prayer), and a small market known as Kadi Sowaika. The building of the bath was brought to completion before 726 H/ CE 1326, since the great traveler Ibn Battoutah visited Tripoli in that year and said: "There are many nice baths in the city (Tripoli), of these are: the bath of the judge Karmi, and Sandamor (Asandamor) bath, which Ibn Hajar Aaskalani described as a beautiful and amazingly constructed famous bath". The Karmi bath existed near the Khan known nowadays as Khan Aaskar at the eastern side of Dabbaghah district. This bath was removed along with the Zawiah at the beginning of this century (the 20th). It is also probable that he built the southern eastern part of Khan Aaskar.

Badereddeen Aattar, one of the wealthy men in Tripoli, participated in building the Aattar mosque, and a bath that carried his name, both in Mallahah district on the western bank of Tripoli';s river. He also built shops and houses near the mosque and the bath and made them an inalienable property to pay for the mosque';s and the bath';s expenses. Abou Baker Ibn Bousais Baalbaki, a well known architect, took the charge of constructing the bridge over the Kalb river in 472 H/ CE 1341 and Damour bridge in 745 H/ CE 1344. In the following years, the Aattar grandson to his daughter constructed a school on the northern side of the Aattar bath on the road known as Sousieh located between Mallahah district and Haraj market. It is a pity that the Aattar bath and the school of Aattar';s grandson (Sibt Aattar) were removed several years ago because of the plan of expanding the bed of Tripoli river. Aattareen (perfumers) market used to be located between Aattar mosque and Mallahah pool.

Ibn Battouta, who visited Tripoli in 726 H/ CE 1326, after 37 years of the Mamluk rule, described it saying: "It is one of the bases of AlSham and its great and large states... It has amazing markets and fruitful plains, the sea is two miles away from it and it is of modern architecture". Around 730 H/ CE 1330, Prince Badereddeen Mohammed Ibn Haj Abi Becker Halabi built a Bimeristan (hospital) in Tripoli, thus gathering to two hospitals. This was confirmed by Ibn Fadlallah ElOumari when he said: "The city has two bimeristans". Ibn Habib Halaby said that Prince Halaby built a firmly constructed hospital and made for it some inalienable properties to cover its expenses. In 738 H/ CE 1337, Prince Kourtay Seifi built a religious school (Zawia) and joined it to the Zoureykieh school in Asandamor Souwaika district. In 740 H/ CE 1339, Prince Salaheddeen Yousef Ben Asaad Dawadar was appointed as a chief of the soldiers in Tripoli, so he built in it a bath in Haddadeen market at the southern side of the city, and a house where he lived until he died in 745 H/ CE 1344. In 760 H/ CE 1359, Ezzeddeen Taktay Ben Abdallah Salihi died. He was one of the marines in Tripoli castle and it is probable that the old military tower at the seaside, known as Salihi tower, refers to him. In 757 H/ CE 1359, the Sakrakiyeh school was constructed for Seyfeddeen Actarack, Chamberlain (Hajeb) of the Prince in Tripoli. It is in Actarack district, at the southern side of the city. Many previously built places inside and outside Tripoli were noted in the inalienable property of the school, sculptured on it walls. Some of these are: closely constructed shops on the eastern side of the Halawiyeen market, and a house next to the school';s mosque. It is probable that the house still exists in the narrow street on the northern side of the school';s grave. That';s in addition to other closely constructed houses in the Egyptians'; Khan that lies in the center of the city, to the west of the tailors Khan, a house to the north of Mouhandes Khan in the old bridge district (the old Dabbaghah bridge), and a bakery known as Kerkholed bakery. In 766 H/ CE 1365, the Aajamiyeh school was constructed by Mohammed Soukkar at the middle of the stairs, leading to Tripoli';s castle, in Mahatra district. In 775 H/ CE 1373, the Khatounyieh school was built by Tripoli';s ruler Prince Ezzeddeen Aidamor Ashrafi with his wife Argon. The school stands opposite to the Sakrakiyeh school at the eastern side where only the road separates them. From the school';s statement of inalienable property sculptured on it';s door, we can recognize many places previously built monuments in Tripoli too. Some of these are: the Kisaria known as Douhaisheh, houses of silk craftsmen, nine shops, several seats outside the houses known as Haririyin too, for which there is a door on the eastern side of the Kisaria, closely constructed large shops outside the eastern gate of the Kisaria, two shops inside the gate on the right and two others on the left, five cellars (vault) next to the Kisaria, and three closely constructed shops opposite to the eastern gate. It is probable that the Douhaisheh Kisaria and the silk craftsmen houses are the ones known nowadays as Khayyateen (tailors) Khan. That';s in addition to the closely constructed shops in the center of the eastern market on the eastern side near the trader';s Kisaria in Tripoli. Probably the market meant here is the one which is known as Haraj on the western bank of the river between Dabbagha and Mallaha districts. Between 775-778 H/ CE 1376-1373, Prince Mankali Bogha Ahmadi was the Vice Sultan in Tripoli. During that period, he constructed a military tower at the seaside, as, the historian, AbdelBaset Bin Khaleel Thahiri said.

Between 792-801 H/ CE 1390-1398, Prince Aitmosh Bijasi was the leader of the soldiers. He built the bridge of Kalb river that joins Beirut and Jounieh at the seaside. He also built a military tower on the edge of the coastal head of Tripoli known, until a late period, as Ezzeddeen tower. The Kaderieh school, near Ezzeddeen bath in Bab Hadeed district, refers to him. A great similarity appears between the frontal gate of the school and the gate of the tower in Mina. In 796 H/ CE 1394, Prince Seyfeddeen Argon Shah Ibrahimi Azhari became the Vice Sultan in Tripoli. He constructed a Zawia and a school in AkTarak district, fifty meters away from the southern side of Sakarkieh school. The Zawia was turned later on into the mosque known, nowadays, as Argon Shah mosque. In 799 H/ CE 1397, Prince Huseyn Ben Ahmed, called as Taghri Baramsh Zahiri, built the Zaherieh school at the beginning of the road which is known as Taht Sibat, which leads to the bottom of the castle to the river side. He also built a grave in the school to bury his two sons. By the end of the 8th Hegira century/ CE 14th, new gates were made for the city after its old ones had been destroyed during the raid of the Crusaders (the Europeans) in 769 H/ CE 1367, when they were able to pull out one of them and carry it away with them to Cyprus. King Peter De Loznian used it as a gate for Jour Hijous castle at the coast of small Arminia (Arminia Soughra) Ibn Kadi Shahbeh described the gates of Tripoli as the "new gates" in his book citing the events of 802 H/ CE 1399. During the raids of the Crusaders on Tripoli, the inhabitants of the city destroyed the arcade that joined the tower of Prince Aytemosh to the land. During the 8th Hegira century/ CE 14th, many buildings were constructed, however, their exact dates of construction is unknown. Of these are: the school known as Atharieh or Mashhad school, which I call as the school of Sheikh Hindi, that stands next to the main gate of the Mansouri great mosque at the bottom of its minaret, Dawadar school opposite to Dawadar bath, Nasser Ben Ajbour School, Wattar school in Dabbaghah district, Hasan Bshinnaty school at the bottom of Kobbeh (the dome) district, Refaieh school near Nasara (Christians) district, the castle';s mosque, the castle';s bath, the Karafish bath, Nouzha bath, Taktomor school, many grinders next to the river, a group of arcades (Bakieh) with alternating white and black stones (known as Ghanem Bakieh near Bourtasi mosque), and Dar Saadeh which was the residence of the Vice Sultan, the city leader, the judges, the Princes, and senior officials of the authority. Dar Saadeh was built inside Tripoli castle, later on it was moved to Bab Hadeed district at the beginning of the road leading to the castle at the eastern side of Ouwaysieh mosque. That';s in addition to many other milestones demolished and their dates are still unknown. By the beginning of the 9th Hegira century/ CE 15th and exactly in 804 H/ CE 1401, the Vice Sultan in Tripoli Prince Demerdash Mohammedi Zahiri built a Zawia (religious school) at the northern suburb of the city. This Zawia was turned later on into the mosque known nowadays as the Baddawi mosque. At the beginning of this same century, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Omar Bin Ahmed Traboulsi Shafii, known by the name of Ibn Nini, settled in Nouri Souwayka street where he built a house. He was one of the most famous clergymen in the city preaching in Tawbeh mosque. That';s why the district was known by his name until the beginning of the Ottoman Era, he died in 848 H/ CE 1444.

In 816 H/ CE 1413, Prince Mohammed Bin Moubarak Shah Aalai built Tina Sabeel (a public drinking place) in the Haddadeen district in Kheil (horses) Souwaika. Nowadays, it stands next to the bath of Ibrahim Basha Aazem, known by the name of the Jadeed (new) bath. It is very probable that this bath is an old one known in the documents of the Islamic Legal Court in Tripoli by the name of Jaradeen (mice) bath. In 859 H/ CE 1455, the Prince (writer and historian) Gharseddeen Khalil Ben Shahin Zaheri settled in Tripoli. He devoted himself for writing and teaching. He built a Dar (house), a Zawia (a place for praying) and a cemetery for himself in which he was buried in 873 H/ CE 1470. The historical sources, however, did not mention anything about the place of the mosque, the house, or the cemetery. In 870 H/ CE 1466, Asandamor Aanbari built the school that was known as Oumarieh school in Nasara (Christians) ditrsict. Just before 875 H/ CE 1471, Prince Seifeddeen Towashi built the school known as Towashieh in the center of the Jewelers market. During the tour of Sultan Kaitbey in Sham states, he visited Tripoli in 882 H/ CE 1477 and checked up its military and defensive forts. He ordered to build a military tower at the seaside at the pour point of Tripoli river. It was known as Raes Naher (river head) tower. In the following year (883 H/ CE 1478), a lady known as Sit Saliha (the good lady) built a Khankah (a place where widows and women of poor people stay) in Ouwainat district. Inside the Knakah there are several rooms and a small mosque. Before the end of the Mamluk Era, Abdullah Ben Sheikh Dabbagheen renewed the Dabbagheen mosque in 913 H/ CE 1507. However, the original date of construction of this mosque is unknown. There are several schools (as Houjeijieh and Karmeshieh), several Khans, markets, palaces, and others built during the Mamluk Era and that were not mentioned in the historical sources. Some of them do exist nowadays and many others were removed in unknown periods. Toward the north west of the city two districts were constructed. These are: Nasara (Christians) and Yahud (Jews) districts. In the north west of the Jewish district, a cemetery for foreigners was made. The cemetery is known as Ghouraba (strangers) cemetery. At the western side of the Mansouri great mosque, there was a cemetery belonging the clergymen (Oulama), the preachers, the teachers and the judges of Tripoli. Another cemetery was constructed to the northern side of the city outside Tabbaneh Gate.

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