al-Tekiyeh al-Suleimaniyeh Mosque (جامع التكية السليمانية) has been described as the finest example of Ottoman architecture in Damascus (دمشق). Designed by the prominent Ottoman architect Sinan under Sultan Suleiman I, construction of the complex began in 1554 and was completed five years later. While far more modest in scale than Sinan’s projects in Istanbul and elsewhere in the former Ottoman Empire, the mosque is nonetheless an impressive example of his work.
The complex was intended to service the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the management of which was an important responsibility for the governor of the province that provided a major source of income for the city. Prior to construction of the mosque, the site featured a Mamluk-era palace constructed under Zahir Rukn al-Din Baibars al-Bandaqdari (الظاهر ركن الدين بيبرس البندقداري). The area to the west was a fairgrounds that served as a parade and exercise grounds for Ayyubid and Mamluk troops as well as an assembly point for pilgrimages. Located well beyond the old city walls, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the surrounding area saw major urban development.
The mosque is located on the southern end of a large courtyard with a central rectangular fountain. On the northern side of the courtyard was a kitchen and dining hall for pilgrims, and arcaded buildings to the east and west provided housing. While Sinan relied on traditional Ottoman architecture, including the domed prayer hall and two symmetrical minarets, the design of the complex also incorporates several local elements. These include the use of muqarnas over the entrance to the prayer hall, the alternating bands of black and white stone, and the shape of the courtyard.
The complex should be included on any itinerary of Damascus (دمشق), and its location next to the National Museum (المتحف الوطني) makes it convenient to visit both sites together. Also be sure to visit Madrasa Selimiyeh (مدرسة سليمية), a later extension of the complex, to the east.
Getting There: al-Tekiyeh al-Suleimaniyeh Mosque (جامع التكية السليمانية) is located near the center of Damascus (دمشق) on the main boulevard of Shakri al-Quwatli (شكري القوتلي). It is directly to the east of the National Museum (المتحف الوطني) and across the boulevard from the imposing Four Seasons hotel, one of the largest buildings in the city.
Coordinates: 33°30’44.00″N / 36°17’29.00″E
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