Nur al-Din Madrasa
|Nur al-Din Madrasa
|Domes of the Nur al-Din Madrasa|
|Souk al-Khayattin district
The Nur al-Din Madrasa (Arabic: المدرسة النورية) is a funerary madrasa Damascus, Syria, located along the Khayattin Souk, inside the walled city of Damascus. It was built by Nur al-Din, Zengid ruler of Syria, in 1167. Consisting of a madrasa, mosque, and the founder's mausoleum, the Nur al-Din Madrasa was the first royal madrasa complex in the city.
The structure is accessed from the east through a portal recess covered with a double cross-vault. In the 14th century, a low-lying arch was constructed across the recess in order to support the double arch of the original vault. The portal itself opens up to a cross-vaulted vestibule leading to the eastern iwan leading to the courtyard. To the south of the vestibule is a "horse-shoe" arched door topped by a 16-sided rosette window leading to the tomb chamber, and to the north is a staircase leading to the second floor which houses the madrasa's classrooms.
The classrooms are organized around the courtyard measuring 16.6 metres (54 ft) by 20.6 metres (68 ft), paved with black and white marble tiles. A rectangular basin alimented by a water channel connected to a fountain situated on the west iwan is in the center. The iwan is 4.45 metres (14.6 ft) wide by 3.9 metres (13 ft) deep and is topped by a muqarnas-styled semi-dome. Both the eastern and western iwans are flanked by two small rooms on each side.
The prayer hall is located to the south of the courtyard and its central door is aligned with the mihrab and two smaller side doors. The prayer hall and the madrasa rooms are covered with flat roofs. To the left of the mihrab is a minbar ("pulpit") and to the east and west of the prayer hall are two side chambers accessible by individual doors. A minaret with a wooden balcony rises above the arch of the eastern iwan. The northern side of the courtyard was demolished for road enlargement. It originally consisted of an elevated iwan measuring 8.25 metres (27.1 ft) wide by 7.6 metres (25 ft) deep, and roofed with a barrel vault resting on the side walls. It had been flanked by two narrow rooms from each side. Today, only the courtyard walls remain.
Nur al-Din's mausoleum has a square plan, measuring 6.6 metres (22 ft) on each side, and adjoins the entrance vestibule. It is centered on his tomb located below a small, detailed muqarnas dome. Its walls are higher than the rest of the madrasa complex, lifting the dome, with its corbels and bulbous crown, into the skyline of Damascus.
On the vertical surface of cenotaph are lines of Arabic inscriptions carved repeatedly on its four sides, dedicated to the memory of Nur al-Din. The walls are decorated with niches below a continuous band of calligraphy stating the Kursi sura from the Qur'an. The space is illuminated with three arched windows placed above the inscription bands on each wall, although some of the windows have been closed in. The base of the dome also has four arched windows facing the cardinal points and its upper muqarnas corbels are punctured with smaller openings. The southern wall has a mihrab niche flaked by two small columns.
A second mausoleum adjoins the staircase situated to the north of the complex's main entrance. It's a square-shaped room covered with a muqarnas dome, similar to the dome of Nur al-Din's mausoleum. Entered separately, this mausoleum is remnant of Madrasa Nagibiyya and houses the tomb of Amir Jamal al-Din Aqqush an-Nagibi, who died in 1269 and governed Damascus under the Mamluk sultan Baibars.
- Nur al-Din Madrasa and Mausoleum Archnet Digtal Library.