Although there is no foundation inscription for the Muzhiriyya madrasa, there is a description by the historian Mujir al-Din that matches the existing evidence: Mujir al-Din dates its completion to 1481. A Cairene official founded the madrasa by the name Muzhir al-Ansari al-Shafi. The founder continued a family tradition of serving the ruling Mamluks in important administrative posts and was also the founder of a larger madrasa built in Cairo at the same time.

Almost square in plan, the madrasa comprises three levels built around a central rectangular courtyard. The courtyard is flanked to the east and west by a set of two spaces; from the street, the courtyard is reached via a portal that leads into a vestibule. The square in plan vestibule, leading to the courtyard, is flanked by two street accessed spaces. A large iwan equal in width to the courtyard itself is on axis with the entrance and is located to the south of the madrasa. Two additional small spaces flank the iwan. The second level, accessed by a stair in the northwest corner of the courtyard, repeats the floor below with minor differences. On the second level, three sides of the courtyard are covered by a gallery, which provides access to the small spaces set around the perimeter of the second level. A third level with an L shaped plan is built on the east and south sides of the second floor. An assembly hall, demolished in 1925, was built on the roof of the Haram portico as a detached independent space.

An asymmetrical portal flanked by stone benches dominates the elevation. To the east of the portal are two grilled windows set in shallow recesses, each topped by muqarnas. To the west is a single rectangular window. On the upper level are two identical recessed panels of ablaq masonry each framing double horseshoe arches which are set within each recess. The two panels flank the portal asymmetrically. The portal recess is topped by a trefoil horseshoe arch and is built of red, white and yellow ablaq masonry.

The interior of the madrasa is mostly composed of barrel-vaulted cells with pointed arch doorways. The iwan with its mihrab at the south side of the courtyard is the main space on the ground level. A wide pointed arch of red and white voussoirs frames the iwan. The arch rests on muqarnas corbels and is further framed by moulding with a circular loop over the keystone. The barrel vaulting of the iwan gives way to doors to its east and west walls. The mihrab on the south wall is semicircular in plan and is framed by a pointed arch within a larger frame of black stone.


Burgoyne, Michael. Mamluk Jerusalem, 579-588. London: The British School of Archeology in Jerusalem Press, 1987.

Najm, Yusuf. Kunuz al-Quds, 301-302. Milano: SAGDOS, 1983.
Tariq Bab al-Hadid, Jerusalem
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1480-1481/885 AH
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Madrasa Muzhiriyya
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