Damascus – Maktab Anbar
دمشق – مكتب عنبر

Maktab Anbar (مكتب عنبر) is one of the largest historic residences in the old city of Damascus (دمشق), covering an impressive 3,825 square meters. Construction of this palatial home began in the middle of the 19th century by Yousef Anbar (عنبر‎ يوسف‎), a Jewish merchant. Work was halted by 1887 due to the tremendous costs associated with the project. After taxes went unpaid, the house was seized by the government in 1890. The project was subsequently completed by the Ottoman authorities and converted into a school.

The building was later abandoned and neglected, falling into a state of disrepair. The Ministry of Culture acquired the house in 1976 and began a project of restoration and renovation. The work was undertaken with the intention of restoring the 19th century residence as authentically as possible based on research and historical documents. Maktab Anbar (مكتب عنبر) was then converted into a cultural center, housing the offices of the Directorate of the Old City. It includes an exhibition hall, library, and workshops, and is open to visitors during regular government office hours.

Visitors enter Maktab Anbar (مكتب عنبر) into a courtyard on the western side of the complex. This section of the residence was a later addition by the Ottoman government, flanked by two wings (now offices). Beyond this reception area, to the east, is the large central courtyard of the main house. The men’s reception rooms and iwans surround this courtyard, which features elaborate decoration over the windows and doorways, a beautiful garden, and a central fountain. Most of this section rises to a two-story height. Behind this courtyard, again to the east, a women’s area surrounds an informal courtyard. The rear of the house contains three small servants’ rooms arranged around a small courtyard with a rear entrance.

 

Getting There: Maktab Anbar (مكتب عنبر) is centrally located in the old city of Damascus (دمشق), approximately three hundred meters southeast of the Umayyad Mosque (الجامع الاموي) and half that distance from the popular Beit Jabri (بيت جبري) restaurant. From the other direction, Maktab Anbar (مكتب عنبر) is roughly three hundred meters west of al-Mariyamiyeh Church (كنيسة المريمية).

Coordinates: 33°30’36.00″N / 36°18’34.00″E

Transliteration Variants: None

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