The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

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Madrasa-Khanqa Sultan Barquq: Historical Landmark on El Muezz Street

Madrasa-Khanqa Sultan Barquq: Historical Landmark on El Muezz Street
written by
Callie Wallace

Located on Muezz El Din Allah Street next to the Madrasa of Al Nasir
Mohammed, this recently renovated structure is not to be missed. El Muezz
has been restored, widened and spruced up primarily to attract tourists.

Today, benches line the avenue and it is not uncommon to see artists
sketching one of the many monuments that this street has to offer. The entrance
of Madrasa-Khanqa Sultan Barquq is clearly labelled and directly across the street from the entrance
to the Egyptian Textile Museum.

Built from 1384 to 1386, this structure contains a madrasa (Islamic school),
khanqah (Sufi residence) and a mausoleum. The madrasa’s financer was Sultan
Barquq, who became the first Burgi Mamluk sultan after seizing power from the
Mamluks in 1382.

Upon entering through the massive bronze-plated doors, be sure to look
up at the ceiling. The octagonal dome has eight windows that light up the
intricately decorated walls and arches. A passageway will lead you to the
spacious courtyard, where wooden doors covered with circular bronze designs
stand in the four corners of the courtyard. The doors lead upstairs to rooms
for students, but these doors are closed and the upstairs level is no longer accessible
to the public.

Iwans (vaulted halls with walls on three sides and one side completely
open) are located on all four sides of the courtyard, one for each school of
Islamic law. Many beautiful lamps now hang from the arches’ ceilings; they were
installed as part of the renovation process and are replicas of the originals.

The qibla iwan is to the right of the entrance of the courtyard. Four
red granite columns support the structure, which– along with three lateral
arches– separate the iwan’s three aisles. To the left of the qibla iwan, there
is a door that leads to the mausoleum of Fatima, Sultan Barquq’s daughter. The
stained glass windows and arabesque panelling above have been recently

It’s difficult to imagine what this structure looked like just a few
years ago before the renovation procedures. Today, the madrasa-khanqah appears
in excellent condition and will surely impress all visitors, whether or not
they have a special interest in architecture or history.

It is remarkable and almost overwhelming; so make sure to admire the decorative details as well as the structure as a whole. Also, if you linger
in the courtyard for long enough, one of the attendants will probably approach
you and offer to tell you about the madrasa and its history for a small tip.

This structure is often misleadingly labelled the Madrasa-Mausoleum of
Sultan Barquq, even though he is not buried there; only his daughter Fatima is.

Be sure to visit the neighbouring Madrasa of Al Nasir Mohammed and the
Madrasa of Sultan Al Mansur Qalawan.