Tripoli, Tripoli district
Serving as a mosque today, the Madrassa Al Burtasiya, originally a place of theological education, also known as the Bertasi, was built in the early 14th century in Tripoli in the north, and was severely damaged by flooding in 1955. It has since been expertly restored by the Lebanese Department of Antiquities and today this imposing monument of the early Mamluk period is one of old Tripoli’s major attractions. The madrassa features a dark stone portal, or entrance and surroundings, and the half-dome ceiling is decorated with traditional stalactites and beneath them is a band of Arabic inscriptions. The lintel or horizontal support, is inlaid with intricate geometric panels. The interior is decorated by a row of arched ornamentation interspersed with arched windows. A marble fountain stands in the prayer hall, while the beautiful mihrab, a niche that indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca for prayer, is bedecked in stone and glass mosaics are overlaid with gold leaf. The designs of the mosaic are floral and geometric with green-blue branches standing out against a golden background. The madrassa has a square minaret and the small decorative column separating the windows has a badly-worn capital, which is the top portion of a column that may be of Crusader origin.