Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya

Holy Land Revealed

Step back to the 15th century, when Jerusalem was under the rule of the mighty Mamluks, and the city was about to witness the construction of a remarkable Islamic educational institution. Enter the Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya, a historical treasure built between 1480 and 1482 by the illustrious Mamluk sultan, al-Ashraf Qaytbay.

Jerusalem Ultimate Guide
Al Aqsa Dome

Sultan al-Ashraf Qaytbay: A Patron of Grandeur

Primarily, Al-Ashraf Qaytbay is known for his long and effective rule. However, he was not just a ruler but a patron of architecture. Moreover, he had a vision to enhance the architectural significance of Jerusalem. So he decided to rebuild a madrasa that had initially been started by a previous sultan but never completed.

The Madrasa, With Its Main Entrance On The Left. Its Entire Facade Projects Forward From The Other Structures Around It. To The Far Right Is The Domed Sabil Of Qaytbay; In The Middle Is The Fountain Of Qasim Pasha.
Credit: Ludvig14, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Masterpiece in the Making

With a commitment to excellence, Sultan Qaytbay brought a team of skilled builders and artisans from Cairo to ensure that the madrasa met his high standards. The result was a breathtaking edifice that graced the western side of the Haram al-Sharif, facing the iconic Dome of the Rock.

Sabil Of Qaytbay
Sabil Of QaytbayA Marvel of Mamluke Architecture.
Credit: Godot13, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Architectural Highlights

The Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya featured a large courtyard surrounded by student living quarters. However, what set it apart was the triple-arched loggia on the eastern side, providing an unobstructed view of the Dome of the Rock. This architectural marvel showcased the sultan’s vision.

Mameluke Architecture
Mamluk Architecture Arches Temple Mount

Preservation and Restoration

Despite enduring an earthquake in 1496 that damaged much of its upper floor, parts of the lower stories of the madrasa have survived to this day. Furthermore, In the 2000s, it underwent extensive restoration efforts to preserve its historical and architectural significance.

Old City Jerusalem Tour

A New Purpose: Al-Aqsa Center for Islamic Manuscripts

So, in recent years, Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya has been repurposed as the al-Aqsa Center for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts. Lastly, it has become a hub for restoring invaluable Islamic manuscripts, bridging the gap between history and modern scholarship.

Tankiziyya Madrasa
Al-Khatuniyya Madrasa

A Historical Gem

Historically, the Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya was considered one of the treasures of the Haram al-Sharif, alongside the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. So today, it stands as a testament to the rich heritage of Jerusalem during the Mamluk period, where the past and the present converge in an architectural masterpiece.


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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