Last update:
7 November 2009
19 Thu AlQe'da 1430

Taynal Mosque

Tripoli > History > Monuments > Mosques > Taynal Mosque

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Brief Notes
  • Location: Raml Gate, at The southern entrance of Tripoli near the Moslems' cemetery
  • Commissioned by: The Vice Sultan, Prince Seifeddeen Taynal alHajeb alAshrafi
  • Date of construction: 736 H/ 1335 CE
  • Historical period: Mameluke
  • Characteristics: The Vice Sultan also built a grave in this Mameluke mosque for himself, but he moved from Tripoli and died in Damascus in 743 H/1342 CE and was carried to Safad in Palestine, where he was burried. Near the mosque on the right side are four rooms used historically by the judges of the city who follow the four Islamic orders: Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali. The largest gatherings for the Eid (feast) prayers are usually held in this mosque.
  • Proprietor: Islamic Awqaf Directorate of Tripoli

Architectural Features and Decorative Details

Taynal Mosque resembles the Bourtasi in the wonderful building and architecture, but it is more luxuriant than the Bourtasi for its hugeness. It is composed of two Harems, and it has five domes of different sizes, while the Bourtasi has three domes. The colorful marble covers the whole floor of the northern Harem (the first), its entrance, and its external yard, where the ablution pool used to be. Beautiful architectural and plant figures decorate the marble. In the middle of the Harem there is a round marble with set gems, in the center of which, there is a hollow opening in the floor to drain water during cleaning. Before a while, I mentioned the peculiarity of the mosque minaret with the two stairs inside it. The minaret looks in its general external shape like a castle tower or a king in the chess spot. It is distinguished in its unique design from the other minarets in Tripoli.

The interior of the 1336 mosque of Amir Taynal is surprisingly plain and intimate for what was one of the most abundantly endowed mosques in the city, especially when compared to the grandeur of its entrance hall. Decoration was restricted to carved wooden minbar (pulpit) and the marble floors, now damaged and carpeted. In this way, the mosque expresses more dramatically than most the Mamluk tendency to lavish ornamentation on the publicly visible elements of a building: entrances, minarets and windows.

The Minaret

The minaret of Taynal Mosque includes two spiral stairs interwinding with each other and leading to the inner and outer sides of the mosque through two gates. In this case, if two persons decide to use both stairs, they can reach the top of the minaret without meeting each other all through the way. This unique peculiarity, exists only in Taynal mosque because of its presence outside the inhabited part of Tripoli. The defensive and military necessities were the reasons behind this unique type of architecture. A secret corridor was made between the two walls to separate the internal and the external sides of the mosque, thus, allowing its janitor and guards to hide.

The Platform

In the field of the wooden manufactures, especially, in making the decorated platforms, Prof. O. Tadmori encountered the name of the master Mohammed Safadi who made the platform of Taynal Mosque.

The Portal

The portal at Taynal Mosque, among the tallest in the city, is clearly its most refined Mamluk expression. It uses polished ablaq, a joggled relieving arch, extensive calligraphic inscriptions, three panels of marble marquetry and a crowning muqarnas half-dome. It is a coherent structure, one in which details contribute to what Sala-Liebich describes as the "feeling of freshness and purpose" that characterizes the best of Mameluke craftsmanship.

Today, it is also the best preserved because, unlike other portals, it stands inside the mosque, which is entered through a modest covered portico, or riwaq. The riwaq opens into a plain but grandly proportioned, domed vestibule that is used as a secondary prayer hall, and which also provides a superb frame for the decorative portal that leads into the main prayer hall. Yet in that main prayer hall, there is relatively little decoration. In this way, the Taynal mosque exemplifies the Mamluk tendency to concentrate decoration on the most noticeable parts of the structure: the portal, the minaret and, to a lesser extent, the windows.

Pillars, Columns, and Gates

Muslim architects did not hesitate to use the stones and pillars that existed before, in the heathen temples or in the Christian churches. They put them together in a wonderful harmony as they are now, in the northern part (the first part) of Taynal mosque. There, we see three architectural types in one piece. This piece is a huge granite pillar brought from Egypt during the Pharaoh Era. It has a huge Corinthian crown on its top, with leafy decorations that belong to the Roman-Byzance art. A sandy pillar (supporter of stones) is based on it with other pillars that bear the dome which expresses an example of Mamluk architectural art. The ingenuity of the Moslem architect appeared in domesticating those different elements. He succeeded in making a perfect element of beauty that is comfortable for the soul. The internal gate of the mosque, which separates the southern and northern Harem (the first and the second), which is Islamic in building, design, and art, is considered as one of the most beautiful gates of Tripoli and Lebanon. With it's magnificence, amazing harmony, decorations, colors, lines, and hollowings, it competes with the most wonderful mosque gates of the Mamluks in Cairo and Damascus. It can be nearly compared with the gate of Prince Kartay's school in magnificence too. But, who looks carefully at this gate and that one would feel a different kind of flavor, if it is allowable to say.

The Mosque's Inalienable Property (Awqaf)

From the mosque's inalienable property, sculptured inside it, we can realize several places that where built before 736 H/ CE 1335. Some of these are: two shops next to the gate of the orchard known as Hamwi outside Tripoli next to the mosque, the orchard that used to be known as Altuntash in Tripoli fields (Saki), two shops next to the Weapons market near Asandamor bath in Souwayka district inside the city, and a Khan known as old Wakala (agency) house. It is probable that this Khan is the one known nowadays as Haraj market. According to the inalienable property sculptured on the grave of Taynal, inside the mosque, many other previously built places in Tripoli may be recognized. Some of these are: Tabakah (or the house which is next to the mosque towards the east side, known as Khateeb house), two shops at the Haddaddeen market located at its western side (previously known as Abi Roubbahi), a market at the southern side of the city, and houses on top of shops built by Prince Taynal in old Aarasah at the northern gate of Tripoli, known at present as Tabbaneh gate. A large Khan, known at present as Aarasat (i.e., the wide house yard in which many pillars stand) Khan, still stands next to Tabbaneh gate. That's in addition to six shops built by Prince Taynal and used to be known as Mouzaffer shops, in Kadi (Kormi) Souwaika near Asker Khan in Dabbaghah district at the northern western side of the city. Over these shops, three houses were built. A Hakoura, little orchard, used to exist at the southern side of the mosque, in addition to a land known nowadays as Tall square that is at the southern side of Tripoli's Manshieh garden. According to these two inalienable properties, we notice that the constructions of any Vice Sultan or Prince were not limited to one side of the city, but were scattered over the three sides of Tripoli as well as its center and suburbs. This offered a geographical expansion space in a period that did not exceed half a century. That's why when Ibn Fadlallah ElOumari visited Tripoli, in 735 H/ CE 1334, he described it as an extending city, very crowded, with two hospitals (Maristan), mosques, schools, Zawaya (small schools), respectable markets, wonderful baths, and all its buildings made of stone and limestone, and they are externally and internally whited.

In 755 H/ CE 1354, the Vice Sultanate Prince Aitmosh Ben Abdallah Seifi died. A grave was made for him at a distance of 250 meters from the western side of Taynal mosque. Later on, his son Mohammed died in 758 H/ CE 1357, a grave was made for him near his father's, then the second son died, and a third grave was made for him too. Those three graves were uncovered when the bases of Siddeek mosque were dug in 1960 CE.

Photo Album

Details in the second hall of the Taynal mosque.

Inside the Taynal Mosque
Inside the Taynal mosque.

The inner portal of the Taynal Mosque
The vestibule of the mosque of Amir Taynal is larger in both in height and area than the prayer hall that lies on the other side of the most elaborate portal in the city. In the vestibule, the original ablution fountain and its surrounding floor panels of marble marquetry have been removed after being damaged, and the area is now used as a secondary prayer hall. The granite columns date from the Roman era.

The outermost fence of the mosque.

The gate of the first hall of the mosque.

The gate of the second hall of the mosque.

Looking upward from the second gate.

Details at the second gate.

The minbar.

The three tombs of the founder of the mosque and his two sons after recovery from a nearby excavation.

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