Mosque Name: Country: The Monsouri Mosque of Tripoli, Lebanon is also known The Great Mosque of Tripoli.
GPS: 34.434520 35.842500
Original Qibla: Petra
Rebuilt facing Mecca: never
As it stands today, this mosque was the first great building built in the Mamluk period, in Tripoli, from 1294 to 1314, around the remains of the Crusader Church of St. Mary which may have been built on the ruins of yet older buildings, possibly a mosque from the early period of Islam.
According to an inscription in the mosque, the Mansouri Mosque was named after the Mamluk sultan who conquered Tripoli from the Crusaders in 1289, al-Mansur Qalawun. The mosque itself was erected by his two sons, al-Ashraf Khalil, who ordered its construction in 1294, and al-Nasir Muhammad, who had the arcade built around the courtyard in 1314. Located on the site of what was once a Crusader suburb at the foot of the Citadel of Tripoli, this mosque is often mistaken for a remodeled Christian church. Two elements, the door and possibly the minaret, belong to an earlier structure, possibly the Christian church and earlier mosque. These were incorporated into the new mosque when it was built, but the building—comprising its court, arcades, fountain, and prayer hall—is essentially a Muslim Mamluk creation.
During Amir Qaratay’s first term as Governor of Tripoli (1316-1326), he endowed the Mansouri’s Mosque’s minbar and also built the Madrasah Qartawiyyah, known as the “finest” madrasa in Tripoli, which adjoins the mosque to the east.
The floor plan of the mosque shows a traditional arrangement with a central courtyard, single porticoes on three sides, a deeper qibla side for prayer, and a central fountain. Creswell regarded the three entrances as a Syrian feature which began with the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, and later became part of other Syrian mosques, such as the mosque in Harran, as well as in other parts of the Muslim world. Is it possible that the original mosque on this location was an Umayyad plan, then converted into a church, and later converted back into a mosque by the Mamluks? Outside of the mosques main entrance are two ancient granite columns, just above waist high, embedded in the pavement, with no indication what previous building they came from. The courtyard which dominates the building is enclosed by porticoes on three sides, north, east, and west, and by the closed prayer area to the south.
The prayer hall covers the entire qibla side of the building. The area in front of the mihrab is covered by a small dome. The qibla wall has three mihrabs - a main central one with a rosette above it and one on either side. The painted rosette above the minbar is reused; the word “Allah” appears in its center and the same motifs as were used inside and outside the main gate. It is believed that the four-pointed rosettes were was a part of the design from the earlier Crusader church.
What is particularly striking of this mosque is the Qibla direction, facing 182 degrees, towards the city of Petra.
See the Sultan Yacoub Mosque and Tomb to learn more about why a Petra Qibla may have been used.