Louay Dakhel, an Aleppian architect, revisits several sites in Aleppo providing photos, analysis, and commentary on what he finds. The following is a translation of his text as well as photos posted on Facebook from his visit to Madrasa Al-Fardoos on February 9, 2017.
The seventh round… Madrasa Al-Fardoos
Almost the entire school remains in tact from the days of the war, with the minor exception of the secondary dome near the entrance and the back wall of the iwan, both of which can easily be repaired.
It was built in the time of Queen Deifa Khatoun, wife of the King of Aleppo Zahir Ghazi son of the King Salah Al-Din Al-Ayoubi in the year 633 Hijri. This was an era when Aleppo was the capital of the Ayyubid Kingdom, among one of the most beautiful and famous kingdoms in the world.
Scientists, artists, and others who changed the course of history graduated from this school. The structure of the school represented the utmost creativity in the details of its shape and proportions, as well as its size, colors, and function poetically built leaving a visitor in awe of its transcendental power.
When the President of the French National Assembly (of the 20th century) visited the school, he was surprised to see the great mihrab and the central basin/pool of water masterpiece. He suggested to take them to Paris, but his advisors told him that there is no one in France who knows how to bring them together again and to install them as they were, thus canceling the idea.
And thus… with the call to prayer resonating and echoing off the Ayyubid stones and the birds singing, I entered the prayer hall full of rays of light shooting out of the windows and into the hearts of the worshippers… I stood under the dome calling to the sky, near the platform radiating with art and creativity, and in front of the mihrab considered by many historians to be among the wonders of the world; many art critics consider it the most beautiful art in the entire Muslim world… and I prayed… and I knelt on the old carpets of the mosque… and humbly bowed…and I saw in my heart tears of the Ayyubid King who built in Aleppo and of the most important founders of civilization… and so I cried. Aleppo/9 February 2017/Louay