Madrasa al-Shu'aybiyya
Aleppo, Syria
The complex including a madrasa and fountain (qastal) known as al-Shu'aybiyya is located just inside Bab Antakiyya in the old city of Aleppo. It was established in 1150 by Nur al-Din Mahmud ibn Zangi as a shafi'ite institution dedicated to the memory of his jurist Shu'ayb ibn Ali Hasan. The actual structure was erected on the former site of the mosque built by Umar ibn al-Khattab in 636, hence serving as a landmark at the western end of the Roman Decumanus, inside the walled city. It is the second madrasa Nur al-Din founded in Aleppo, after the Halawiyya. 

The madrasa, which was remodeled numerous times in its lifetime, now lies in ruins. As drawn and imagined by Ernst Herzfeld, the original stone structure by Nur al-Din was composed of a porch and its adjoining fountain, attached to the western wall of a rectangular madrasa. Placed at the side of the madrasa façade, the single-bay porch was open on three sides with pointed arches resting on two square pillars; it is now enclosed, with a shallow doorway. Its cross-vault, with a star-shaped keystone, has remained. Originally a square basin adjoining the porch to the south, the fountain is now also roofed. The southwest edge of the madrasa here is chamfered up to a person's height, above which a muqarnas corbel transitions to the corner. An entablature in classical style -- composed of an architrave, frieze and cornice -- crowns the stone portico; it is decorated with Quranic and historical inscriptions in kufic script, and intricate arabesque bands of leaves scrolls and tendrils. The historical inscription testifies to the erection date of the complex and gives the name of the architect, Sa'id al-Maqdisi ibn Abda-Allah. This is one of the last appearances of the kufic script on Aleppan monuments. A short stone minaret was added on top of the portico at a later date. 

The door to the madrasa, below the porch, has a wide lintel built of joggled voussoirs that form geometric motifs. Similar stones were used to make the shallow arch above the lintel. The hall, which is largely destroyed, was composed of two rows of six cross vaults, carried on two monolithic columns at the center with Corinthian capitals.

The Shuaybiyya was restored in 2007.


Allen, Terry. "Madrasah al-Shu'aybiyah". 2003. In Ayyubid Architecture. Occidental, CA: Solipsist Press.
ayyarch/ch2.htm#alep.mshu [Accessed August 2, 2005].

Herzfeld, Ernst. Matériaux pour un Corpus inscriptionum arabicarum. Part 2: Syrie du nordInscriptions et monuments d’Alep, vol. 1, pt. 1, p. 222-227. 2 vols. in 3 parts. Cairo: Institut Francais d'archéologie orientale, 1954-1956. 

Qalaji, Abd al-Fattah Rawwas. Halab al-Qadimah wa al-Hadithah, 89-90. Beirut: Mu'assassat al-Rissala, 1989.

Raby, Julian. "Nur Al-Din, the Qastal al-Shuaybiyya, and the "Classical Revival"" Muqarnas21, (2004): 289-310. 

Tabbaa, Yasser. "The Architectural Patronage of Nur al-Din." Thesis (Ph.D), New York University, 1982.

Tabbaa, Yasser. The Transformation of Islamic Architecture, the Sunni Revival, 85 and 155. Seattle: The University of Washington Press, 2001.
Souq Bab Antakia (Suq Bab Antakiyya), al-Jalloum District, Aleppo, Syria
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1150/544 AH
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المدرسة الشعيبية
Shu'aybiyya Madrasa
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