Al-Madrasah al-Sallamiyya (al-Mawsiliyya)
Funded By:
the European Union
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Over the years, the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Programme (OCJRP) has accumulated experience in the restoration of buildings and architectural sites, training programmes and documentation. The OCJRP continues its work to establish the Institute for the Preservation of Architectural Heritage in Jerusalem, which will institutionalize training and provide a center for the documentation of architectural sites alongside a specialized geographical database. At a time when attempts are being made to erase Jerusalem’s history, the physical dilapidation of its historic buildings and their unique architectural attributes makes the OCJRPs work to document the city’s heritage all the more relevant and imperative.

This publication is designed as a resource for specialists, professionals and workers in the field of architectural preservation and highlights the existing and potential benefits of the database created by the OCJRP. In 2007, the OCJRP decided to publish a series of studies to document the architectural structure of historic buildings in Jerusalem and some of the major methods used for their restoration. This third study, funded by the European Union (EU), is produced is part of the programme for the Restoration and Rehabilitation of Housing in Jerusalem’s Historic Urban Core and complements two previously publications on the Dar al-Aytam al-Islamiyya complex and the al-Madrasah al-Ashrafiyya.1

Al-Madrasah al-Sallamiyya was selected as the subject of this publication for several reasons. Its founder, Majd al-Din al-Sallami, was not a Mamluk prince but a significant figure during the reign of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun. A merchant and diplomat from northern Iraq, Majd al-Din chose to build the Madrasah in Jerusalem and made it an Islamic endowment (waqf). This reflects the importance of the city at that time in both Arab and Islamic societies.

From an architectural perspective, the Madrasah exhibits both an architectural beauty and an artistic presence, making it a fitting subject for study. It has managed to conserve the majority of its original features. Its ornamentation is of a degree of utter accuracy and perfection rarely found or surpassed by other structures in Jerusalem and Palestine. Indeed, the building has so many decorations that it can serve as a resource to guide the restoration and maintenance of other similar structures. Despite its significance from both a historic and architectural perspective, there are very few publications in Arabic about the Madrasah. Most existing volumes duplicate information originally authored by Mujir al-Din and al-Aref regarding the use and purpose of the building. These books, regretfully, fail to encompass the full value and importance of the Madrasah.

The methodology used in this study mirrors that used in the publications on al-Madrasah al-Ashrafiyya and Dar al-Aytam al-Islamiyya. The study consists of two parts. The first part describes the history, documentation, architecture and ornamentation of the structure. It identifies the building’s name, location, boundaries, functions, endowments, ownership and a biography of the founder. It also provides a detailed description of the building and its architectural evolution, including the facades, elevations, and the ground and upper floors as they stand today. The second part of the study describes the preparative studies undertaken by the Welfare Association (Taawon) and the step-by-step process of the restoration project. In fact, this study differs from previous studies in that it covers a building that is used for residential purposes. This is the first time the OCJRP has made a study of a residential building and the restoration team had to take the residents into account during all phases of the restoration work. The impact of the residents on the restoration process, and also on the building and its architecture in general, is described in the study.

As this study is primarily intended to be an educational and cultural resource, architectural terms are explained and explanatory footnotes have been added, especially when describing the architectural composition of the building. The study is also supported by plans and photographs. Care was taken to produce an architectural analysis that employed the correct terminology on a par with the academic level customary in other such studies. The plans have been carefully tabulated and linked to the text. Finally, the study includes an annex comprising a list of technical terms, references to al-Madrasah al-Sallamiyya in other publications, a brief biography of the Madrasah’s founder, and a list of the main references and resources used in the study. The purpose of this study is to raise awareness and respect for the architectural heritage of Jerusalem and to promote the preservation of these important sites. The authors hope that this will encourage further research on other aspects of the Holy City’s heritage.

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