The Qalawun complex (Arabic: مجمع قلاون) is a massive pious complex in Cairo, Egypt, built by Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun from 1284 to 1285. It is at Bayn al-Qasrayn on al-Mu’izz street and like many other pious complexes. Including a hospital (bimaristan), a madrasa and mausoleum. Despite controversy surrounding its construction. This building widely regarded as one of the major monuments of Islamic Cairo and of Mamluk architecture. Notable for the size and scope of its contributions to legal scholarship and charitable operations. As well as for the richness of its architecture.

Funerary Complex of Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun
Qalawun complex

Historical context and background

In fact, the Qalawun Complex built over the ruins of the Fatimid Western Palace, with several halls in the Palace. It took Qalawun half a decade to construct his monument after he consolidated his rule and fought off the Mongols in Syria. The structure is situated in the heart of Cairo, on the prestigious Bayn al-Qasrayn street, and has been a center for important Islamic religious and court ceremonies and rituals for centuries, stretching from the Mamluk dynasty through the Ottoman Empire.

This complex is one of many Mamluk buildings that made Cairo a flourishing metropolis in the 13th through 16th centuries. It is one of many pious complexes. (fully-integrated multifunctional complexes often centered around the tomb of religious figures or patrons that included turbas or funerary complexes, khanqahs, and other buildings) that served many purposes including exalting the patron through displays of their wealth, piety, and legitimacy.

Description of Qalawun complex

In fact, the complex consists of a tomb, madrasa, mosque, and a hospital. Arranged on either side of a long, central corridor. Upon entering through a slight, horseshoe-arched portal, the cruciform madrasa is to the left with four iwans arranged around an open court with a pool in the center. The long passage that follows supports the minaret above and is covered in a wooden ceiling, making the monument’s lighting rather dark. The mausoleum, which houses the bodies of Sultan Qalawun and his son, al-Nasir. Stands on the street side of the complex between the entrance passage and the subsequent adjacent madrasa of Sultan Barquq. The qibla wall of both the mausoleum and the prayer iwan are both next to the street. The hospital is not visible from the alley since it is located at the rear of the long passage.