Bayt Shamiyya
Damascus, Syria
Located on Zankat Bab Tuma in the Christian Quarter of the old city, this house was built by the merchant and Spanish translator Antun Afandi al-Shami in 1863 after a less grand structure on the site was destroyed by fire. By 1876 it had been sold to Jibran Afandi Shamiya, a Christian delegate to the City Council.

Its most striking features are riwaqs made of marble and other imported material that are set in the façade behind the saliya. The riwaqs and the qa’a became subjects of famous postcards by Maison Bonfils. There are also elaborate wall paintings, wood carvings and inlays, and many other examples of outstanding craftsmanship in the interior of the house.

For a brief period in the late 19th century it housed the Italian Consulate and in 1918 the charity al-Maqqasid al Khayriyya bought the house to establish a school for war orphans. In 1925 it became a school and convent of the Soeurs de Charité. According to the most recent available sources, it continues to function as such.

--Michael A. Toler, AKDC@MIT 2012


Degeorge, Gérard. David Radzinowicz, translator. Paris: Flammarion: 2004.

El-Mudarris, Hussein I, and Olivier Salmon. Souvenir de Damas = Souvenir from Damascus. Aleppo (Syria): Ray Publishing and Science, 2008.

Keenan, Brigid. Damascus: hidden treasures of the Old City. photographs by Tim Beddow. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

Weber, Stefan. Damascus Ottoman Modernity and Urban Transformation 1808-1918. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2009.
Zanqat Sifl al-Talley wa-Zanqat Bab Touma, Damascus, Syria
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Associated Names
1863-66/1280-83 AH
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Variant Names
Shamiyya House
Bayt Jibran Afandi Shamiyya
Building Usages