Qasr wa-Turbat al-Sitt Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya
Jerusalem
Lady Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya (d. 1398) lived in Jerusalem from around 1391, based on records by Mujir al-Din. Her identity is uncertain, but there are many speculations regarding her origin. There is no direct evidence of her connection to any man by the title or the name al-Muzaffar. Her residence (built 1388) is unique in Jerusalem; based on Haram documents, the hill upon which it was built was renamed after Lady Tunshuq, providing evidence of her affluence. In addition to the main hall on the ground floor and a reception hall and courtyard on the upper floor, the residence includes twenty-five rooms and four staircases. It is recorded by Mujir al-Din that Sitt Tunshuq is buried in a tomb (built 1398) that stood across the street from her palace. In 1552 the palace was incorporated into a large complex built by Sulayman the Magificent's wife, Khassaki Sultan. After the death of Khassaki Sultan in 1558, the building housed a charitable foundation until it became the residence of the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem in the nineteenth century. Today it is used as an orphanage with dependent workshops.

The main hall occupies the greater part of the ground floor plan, with several chambers opening to its east and west. The space measures eleven meters by thirty-six meters and consists of ten cross vaults supported by a central row of four square pillars. There are two arched openings leading to two barrel-vaulted partial spaces in the southern end of the hall, corresponding to the natural rock contours on the site. The hall is aligned north-south and is accessed via the central portal of the three on the main elevation. Further west is an annex of three storerooms attached to the palace. The eastern portal accesses a small square vestibule. The space is topped by an ashlar folded cross-vault crowned by an octagonal shallow dome filled with muqarnas. The vestibule leads mainly to the eastern yard and the main hall. West of the main hall is a second vestibule, square in plan and topped by a shallow saucer dome supported on triple-faceted pendentives.

A stair from the western vestibule reaches the upper floor. The main feature of the second floor is its open courtyard surrounded by a series of cross-vaulted chambers. In the center of the south wall of the courtyard is a passageway leading to the main reception hall consisting of a sunken central court flanked by an east iwan and a west iwan. The central sunken court and the west iwan are topped by folded cross-vaults that culminate in octagonal oculi decorated with multiple tiers of muqarnas. The reception hall with axial iwans is a typical feature in Mamluk architecture, and other examples survive in Cairo. A second passageway, on axis with that leading into the reception hall, leads into additional spaces to the southern end of the palace and the reception hall.

Three entrance portals and a large (over 1 meter in diameter) circular window dominate the elevation. A fourth portal further east on the elevation belongs to the Khassaki Sultan addition from the Ottoman period. The east and west entrances were blocked at an undetermined date in the modern period, and a second-storey addition was built over the western part of the elevation. The east portal is the most elaborately decorated, and is closest to the Haram and directly opposite the tomb of the founder.

The east portal recess, two meters deep, is topped with a slightly pointed semi-dome that rests on four tiers of muqarnas. The portal is built of red and white ablaq masonry in combination with limestone inlaid with black stone used in a string course of ablaq joggling that runs above the door. An oculus in the back of the recess is framed by an elaborate limestone panel, which was once inlaid with red and green glass and black stone (almost all of the inlays are now missing). The central portal leading to the main hall is topped by an unusual multi-foiled (cusped) arch. The portal is the smallest with a shallow recess of one meter, but has the widest door and lacks the stone benches usually found in portals designed for easy access into the main hall. As found in the east portal, red and white ablaq masonry is used. Black stone and limestone (painted red) are used for the joggled voussoirs of the small oculus and the string course above the door. The west portal has a string course of joggled ablaq above the door, similar to that in the east portal. The one-and-a-half-meter recess of red and white ablaq masonry is topped with a slightly pointed horseshoe arch. Stone benches flank the door, which is reached by four steps from the street level. A rectangular window centered above the door has an articulated border, which is further articulated by a secondary frame of a Koranic inscription.

The tomb was built opposite the palace. Various alterations were made to the building, most notably when it was converted for domestic use and a door was inserted into the façade during the modern period, sometime before 1920. Stonework repairs and replacements were made during this domestic conversion in 1935, when more substantial repairs took place, including the removal of the original interior plasterwork, strap work decoration, and the spandrels.

The plan of the tomb is divided into an eastern half occupied by the tomb chamber and a western half occupied by a small courtyard and various small chambers. This division is also reflected onto the elevation. The tomb chamber is square in plan (measuring less than five meters square) and approximately twelve meters high. The vestibule which led to the tomb chamber from its east side also led to an iwan to its north side. The iwan opens onto a small courtyard with a stair leading to the upper floor against its north wall. The remaining chambers served as residence or service spaces for the religious foundation housed in the tomb building.

The tomb chamber is topped by a dome which sits on a twelve sided drum with twelve pointed-arched windows, most of which have been blocked. The walls of the tomb are decorated with shallow wall arches, two tiers of muqarnas, and folded pendentives making the transition into the drum of the dome. A mihrab is centered between the two windows on the south side of the tomb chamber. The mihrab has lost most of its original decoration.

The tomb is built of red, black, and white ablaq masonry. The ornamentation of the façade reflects the spaces behind it. The domed tomb on the east side of the building is emphasized by use of ornamental stonework. Two grilled windows light the domed space. The west side of the building, where a small pious foundation was accommodated, has a relatively simple façade. The entrance portal is immediately west of the central axis of the façade and leads into the small vestibule. The pointed arch of the portal is built of red, white and black ablaq and is framed by moulding. Three small windows in the upper part of the façade light the upper floor rooms, and one lights the tomb space. A decorated cornice with a muqarnas motif defines the top of the façade.

The palace building and the tomb were built together with clear architectural spaces (the main hall in the palace and the tomb chamber in the tomb), but subsequent undocumented alterations and constructions make it difficult to date the various components of the building. Although both the palace and the tomb are clearly Mamluk, the yards to the east and south of the main hall of the palace are now enclosed by later Ottoman constructions. Neither building has foundation inscriptions.

Sources:
Burgoyne, Michael. Mamluk Jerusalem, 485-512. London: The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem Press, 1987.
Najm, Yusuf. Kunuz al-Quds, 249-252, 268-269. Milano: SAGDOS, 1983.
Location
south side of Aqabat al-Takiyya street west of the Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem
Images & Videos
Associated Names
Part of Site
Events
1388/789 AH
Style Periods
Mamluk
1250-1517
Variant Names
Qasr wa-Turbat al-Sitt Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya
Lady Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya Palace and Mausoleum
Variant
Dar al-Sitt Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya
Variant
Palace and Mausoleum of Lady Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya
Variant
Turbat al-Sitt Tunshuq
Variant
Building Usages
mausoleum
funerary
palace
palatial