Medieval Arts of Syria and Lebanon Part IV

By | December 17, 2021

The small building was simple, but it already showed the essential architectural scheme of the later madrasas, with the four īwān and a courtyard that appears to have been covered by a wooden roof. Among the most beautiful examples of the architecture of this troubled era are the hospital of Nūr al-Dīn in Damascus, from 1154, and its madrasa, built in 1167. the Lebanese region prospered under the Fatimids until the arrival of the Crusaders, who came down from Constantinople and Asia Minor and returned to the Byzantine Empire much of the land along the coast that had been conquered by the Selgiuqids. As soon as he reached the coast, Count Raymond of Saint-Gilles occupied the fortress of Ḥiṣn al-Akrād, on which the strategic passage between the maritime plains and those of the Biqā῾ depended. Here arose the great Crac des Chevaliers (v.), Currently the best preserved of the Crusader castles in Syria. Godfrey of Bouillon occupied Tortosa, where an imposing Crusader cathedral still stands. The Franks soon took possession of the entire coast, from Antioch and Edessa in the N, to Jerusalem in the S, with the exception of Tripoli. The cities of Aleppo, Ḥāma, Damascus and Baalbek occasionally paid tribute, but were never conquered by the Latins. Forts were built along the coast to provide support for ships and castles connected by watchtowers to protect the strategic ports of Acre, Tire, Sidon and Gibelet. As the Crac des Chevaliers controlled the northern passes towards the Biqā῾, in the Orontes area, so the Beaufort castle controlled the southern extremity, in the Leonte area. Vestiges of these castles testify to the extraordinary interchange between Europe and the East: Marqab, Ṣahyūn, Sāfīthā, Apamea to the North, Beaufort and Niha to Syria As an example of Arab military architecture, the castles of Maṣyāf, Musaylaha, Chaizar, Bosra and Baalbek. For Syria 1999, please check estatelearning.com.

In addition to military installations, the cathedrals of Beirut, Tortosa and Gibelet are also preserved, which testify to the presence in this area of ​​large Christian communities, occupied, as well as in war activities, in trade, teaching or studying. The number of small rural churches around these main centers erected in the mountainous region close to the coast indicates the presence of thriving local communities of Christians dependent on the Crusader cities. As evidence of the fact that trade was the lifeblood of both Christians and Muslims, there are also the gigantic caravanserais of Tripoli and Sidon and other smaller ones along the main roads. Written sources describe the splendid decoration of the churches and palaces. Crusaders, but very little of these paintings are preserved today (fragments in Marqab and the Crac des Chevaliers). Remains of wall paintings from this era also remain in small churches and rock chapels, once belonging to the anchorites, in the deep valleys of the Lebanon mountains. Examples are the frescoes of the churches of Ma῾ād and Bahdeidat, above Gibelet, of Amyūn and Bziza, above Tripoli, of Dayr Ṣalīb and Mart Shmouneh in the so-called holy valley of Kadisha. There are also examples of paintings of the Syrian Orthodox communities: the frescoes of Qar῾a Deyr and the monasteries of Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Qar῾a, of Mar Elian in Ḥimṣ and ​​of Mār Mūsā el-Ḥabashī near Nebeq, which indicate Christian communities also survived well in Syria. After the loss of Jerusalem, the Crusades continued and, despite internal rivalries between the Crusaders themselves, between Crusaders and Muslims and between the different Muslim factions, the regions of St. and Lebanon produced splendid monuments, together with paintings, ceramics and metal objects, most of which were sent by sea to Europe.

The conflict in the region was still fueled by the second and third crusades, while in the middle of the century. 13 ° the Mongols made their appearance. In 1260 Hülegü, grandson of Genghiz Khān, destroyed Aleppo, massacring fifty thousand residents; the same fate suffered immediately after Ḥāma, Baalbek and Sidon. The Ayyubids were so weakened that they had to give control over Egypt to the Mamluks, who in turn managed to stem the advance of the Mongols and drive them out of Syria. The Mamluk Sultan Baybars I alBunduqdārī (1260-1277) quickly subdued the rulers of Syria and Egypt and then proceeded to conquer the Crusader fortresses along the coast, a feat which was later completed by one of his successors, Qalāwūn al-Alfī (1280- 1290), who took Tripoli in 1289. Acre fell in 1291, quickly followed by Tire and Beirut. Thus ended an era of violence that had been unprecedented for the Syria The Syria and Lebanon remained under the strong government of the Egyptian Mamluks until their defeat by the Ottoman Turks at Marj Dābiq, N of Aleppo. in 922 aE / 1516; however they left splendid architectural and artistic testimonies. Although the Mamluk monuments in Syria and Lebanon are smaller and less impressive than those in Egypt, they are more original and deserve special attention: in Aleppo, Damascus and Tripoli (see) the Mamluk governors built splendid mosques, madrasas, hospitals, baths and caravanserai and at the same time made these cities the most refined centers of production in the technique of enamel, ceramics, metallics, of fabrics and glass. The Mamluk objects made in Syria were in great demand and continued to be imported into Europe by the merchants of Genoa, Pisa and Venice, as evidenced by their presence in the most important collections of Islamic art in the Western world.

Medieval Arts of Syria and Lebanon Part IV