Khanaqah of Faraj ibn Barquq

Date: 1400–1411
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Egypt
Description: A multipurpose architectural complex was built in a cemetery near Cairo for the Mamluk sultan Faraj ibn Barquq (1382–1399). It is precisely dated by the Arabic inscriptions on the facade. Faraj faced external attacks from the Timurids and internal ones from rival emirs, and his reign was short-lived; he was assassinated in Damascus at age 23.

Unlike most Mamluk complexes, this one is symmetrical in plan (85 m/side) because its extra-urban location permitted unencumbered construction. It functioned as a residence for Sufis (a khanaqah), centered on a four-iwan courtyard bounded by a mosque, madrasa, and twin mausolea, one for Faraj and his father (Sultan Barquq, d. 1399) and the other for female relatives. The hypostyle qibla iwan of the mosque is vaulted with multiple shallow pendentive domes, built of brick, which evoke the domes in the earlier al-Aqmar mosque in Cairo.

The square mausolea, accessed from the qibla iwan via carved wooden screens, are topped by large domes (14 m diam.) raised on pendentives formed of muqarnas tiers. On the exterior, the stone domes are carved with a distinctive repeating zigzag pattern. With the two minarets at each end of the complex's facade, these domes—the largest in Cairo—made the complex highly visible to travelers along the adjacent caravan route. Meanwhile, Sufis lodged inside the complex could contemplate the cemetery for Sufi sheikhs from windows in their cells.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 10

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Khanaqah complex of Faraj ibn Barquq, 1878 Khanaqah of Faraj ibn Barquq, view of facade Khanaqah complex of Faraj ibn Barquq, view from courtyard to qibla iwan Khanaqah of Farah ibn Barquq, south mausoleum interior Khanaqah of Faraj ibn Barquq, plan and section