According to its inscription read by art historian M. van Berchem in 1922-23, the wikala was built by Sultan al-Zahir Barquq, (1382 to 1399), the founder of the Burji or Circassian Mamluk dynasty.
The wikala is a long rectangular structure aligned north-south, and is entered from a portal among shops on Tariq Bab al-Silsila Street to its south. It is seventy-seven meters long and measures thirty meters at its widest. It contains three separate functions: a market street parallel to Tariq Bab al-Silsila (south), a market hall with stables (center), and a caravanserai centered on a courtyard (north). The market street and market hall were either built or rebuilt during the Crusader Period (1099-1187) and were integrated into the wikala complex during the construction of the caravanserai.
The market street is entered through Tariq Bab al-Silsila Street with a passageway at its east end. It has seven mirror-vaulted bays that contain fourteen shops. The passageway also leads directly into the market hall, which is a cross-vaulted corridor flanked by a total of nine rooms to its east and west. An archway among the four western rooms opens into a large hall used as the stable. Twelve additional rooms are located on the upper floor of the market hall; they are accessed via balconies that project into the corridor carried on Crusader style corbels.
A portal at the north end of the market hall opens into the caravanserai courtyard, which is about eighteen meters wide and thirty-two meters deep. Two tiers of barrel-vaulted cells adjoin the courtyard on its east and west sides; merchants from the rural areas were logged in the upper story chambers while their goods were stored and sold in the cells below. A dedication inscription on the north wall indicates that a fountain, no longer existing, was built there under in 1763. The upper story was also rebuilt during the late Ottoman period, at which time stairways were added at the southeast and southwest corners of the courtyard.
The caravanserai now houses industrial workshops.
Burgoyne, Michael. Mamluk Jerusalem: An Architectural Study, 479-484. London: The British School of Archeology in Jerusalem Press, 1987.
Najm, Yusuf. Kunuz al-Quds, 261-263. Milano: Sagdos, 1983.