In spite of the skyscrapers that are gradually closing in around the mosque of Hasan Bek and despite the heavy and fast traffic separating it from the sea, the Hasan Bek Mosque still manages to preserve its gentle yet impressive appearance.
This impressive mosque was built by Hasan Bek, one of the last governors of Jaffa, shortly before the British occupied Palestine in November 1917. Hasan Bek was an ambitious ruler who aimed to leave a trace in the ancient city, despite the difficult conditions brought by World War I.
With materials confiscated on the claim that they were needed for the war effort, he paved a luxurious avenue named after his commander, Jamal Pasha. The street was later known as Jerusalem Avenue. He destroyed houses in order to widen streets in the old city and open new ones. In this process he also demolished the colorful and lively market built a century earlier by the governor Abu-Nabbut. The mosque of Hasan Bek was built in a neighborhood north of Old Jaffa (named Manshiyya and no longer exists) in a junction of roads leading to Jaffa from Jerusalem, Gaza and Nablus.
While the common stone used in Jaffa is the kurkar, a yellow-brown limestone, the Hasan Bek Mosque was built with a white limestone, untypical of the area. The walls of the mosque are refined by narrow engaged piers that divide the wide facades into smaller sections. The walls are perforated with intricately decorated and colorfully glazed windows, some are tall in the form of a rectangle ending with a horseshoe arch and some are small in the form of a circle divided into three lobes.
Low, stone walls, pierced with rectangular windows and decorated with elegant crenellations surround the courtyard, which used to be larger than today and had two octagonal sabils in each side of the entrance. The towering slender minaret contrasts the square prayer hall with its proportionally low flat concrete roof and a shallow dome projecting from its central bay. A very low tower is attached to the opposite corner of the mosque.
Kark, Ruth. 1990. Jaffa: A city in Evolution. Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 49, 299.
Petersen, Andrew. 2001. A Gazetteer of Buildings in Muslim Palestine: Part 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 167-168.
Yanon, Ya`acov. 2001. Sviv Kikar ha-Shaon. Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 152.