Look across the city of Damascus skyline and you’ll undoubtedly catch a glimpse of the three towering minarets of the Umayyad Mosque (الجامع الأموي). Part of the uniqueness of the Great Mosque of Damascus, are its three distinctive minarets: Minaret of Qaitbay, Minaret of Isa (Jesus) and Minaret of the Bride.
While initially built without minarets, all three were built (and rebuilt) at different times and by varied rulers - Each include layers of architectural styles reflecting how they evolved over time.
Late 19th century general view of Damascus and the Great Umayyad Mosque and her three Minarets (from the left: Qaitbay, Isa and Bride). Take home this memory!
Minaret of the Bride | مئذنة العروس
Built along the northern wall, local legend claims that the minaret is named after the daughter of the merchant who provided lead for the minaret's roof.
The upper segment was rebuilt by the Ayyubids after the fire of 1174. The minaret is used by the Muezzin for the call to prayer (adhan) and it boasts a spiral staircase of 160 steps leading to a platform near top of the minaret.
Attached to the Minaret of the Bride is an 18th century replica of the sundial used to calculate prayer times built by astronomer Ibn al-Shatir (ابن الشاطر) in 1371/72.
Likely originally built by Abassids in the 9th century (others attribute the Umayyads) the Minaret of Isa (Jesus) is the tallest of the three at 77 meters / 253 feet.
The main body was rebuilt by Ayyubids in 1247 after the tower was destroyed by as-Salih Ayyub (الصالح أيوب) aka Abu Al-Futuh (أبو الفتوح), Sultan of Egypt while besieging as-Salih Ismail (الصالح إسماعيل), Sultan of Damascus in 1245 CE.
It was burnt down in a fire in 1392 and the upper section was built by Ottomans – hence the square-shaped base and (Ottoman) octagonal spire.
According to Islamic traditions the Prophet Isa (Jesus) will descend from the heavens via this minaret (the white eastern minaret of Damascus) on Judgement Day to confront the antichrist.
Minaret of Qaitbay | مئذنة قايتباي
Late 19 century photo of Minaret of Qaytbay. Take home this memory!
Known as the Western Minaret (Madhanat al-Gharbiyya), it was built in 1488 CE by Mamluk Sultan Qaitbay (السلطان أبو النصر سيف الدين الأشرف قايتباي) and is the most ornate of the three.
The Egyptian-Mamluk styled minaret is octagonal in shape and is built in receding sections with three galleries.