Jami' al-Hayyat
Aleppo, Syria

Jami' al-Hayyat, also known as Madrasa al-Nasiriyya, is located in the old city of Aleppo just west of the citadel. Formerly a synagogue, the building was converted to a madrasa in 1326-1327/727 AH at the command of the qadi Ibn al-Zamalkani. The madrasa was named after the reigning Mamluk sultan al-Malik al-Nasir, who later ordered a minaret to be built. The name "Jami' al-Hayyat" (Mosque of the Serpents) may come from the fact that the image of a serpent was carved into one of the stones in the mosque's entry portal, but this carving is no longer extant.1

The mosque has an irregular plan, as it is built into the surrounding fabric of the city. It is entered through a vaulted portal on its west side, leading through a short passage onto a large courtyard. An octagonal minaret with a wooden balcony at its top rises directly above the entrance portal.

The paved courtyard has an irregular shape and is bordered on the south by a large prayer hall, and on the east, north and part of the west by arcades. A rectangular fountain occupies its center.

In the prayer hall, the central domed bay before the mihrab is domed. The dome rests on triangular pendentives that make the transition from square bay to dodecagonal dome. A number of windows allow light to filter in from the outside.


  1. al-Jasir, "Tatawwur 'imarat al-madaris," 269.


Gaube, Heins, and Eugin Wirth. Aleppo: Historische und Geographische Beiträge zur baulichen Gestaltung, zur sozialen Organisation und zur wirtschaftlichen Dynamik einer vorderasiatischen Fernhandelsmetropole, 365, no. 174. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert, 1984.

al-Jāsir, Lamyā’. “Taṭawwur ‘imārat al-madāris al-athariyya fī madīnat Ḥalab,” 268-277. Masters Thesis, Univesrity of Aleppo, 1998.

Meinecke, Michael. Die Mamlukische Architektur in Ägypten und Syrien (658/1250 Bis 923/1517), 145, 9C/210 and 346, No. 33/54. Glückstadt: J. J. Augustin, 1992.

Sauvaget, Jean. “Inventaire des monuments Musulmans de La ville d’Alep.” Revue des etudes Islamiques 5 (1931): 59–114, no. 84.

Aleppo, Syria
Images & Videos
1326-1327/727 AH (conversion to madrasa)
Style Periods
Variant Names
جامع الحيات
Jami' al-Haiyat
Alternate transliteration
Building Usages