Khan As'ad Pasha Al 'Azem - Damascus - Syria.

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The khan of As'ad Pasha al-Azem is situated along Suq al-Buzuriyyah in the old city of Damascus. It was built between 1751 and 1752 by the city governor As'ad Pasha al-Azem. It is one the most prominent khans of the old city, and covers an area of 2500 square meters.


The building follows a typical khan layout with two floors giving onto a central courtyard. The Khan is entered from Suq al-Buzuriyyah, through a monumental gateway lavishly decorated with stone carvings and roofed by a muqarnas semi-dome. The entrance leads to a square courtyard with shops on the ground floor, used for commerce and storage. The second floor, accessible by a staircase located to the right of the main entrance was used mainly for loadging, and has eighty rooms arranged along a gallery facing the courtyard.


The space of the courtyard is divided into nine equal square modules, where each module is covered with a dome raised on a drum pierced with twenty windows. The domes are supported by pendentives that transfer the load onto four piers and to the courtyard walls. An octagonal marble fountain occupies the center of the courtyard below the central dome. Each of the four courtyard walls has three doorways on the ground floor, flanked by two rectangular windows. The symmetry is maintained on the second floor where each gallery façade has three archways flanked by two smaller ones. The khan is built of alternating courses of basalt and limestone.


Three of the courtyard domes were destroyed in an earthquake seven years after the khan's completion. The openings were covered with wooden planks until 1990 when the khan was restored and the domes rebuilt. No longer used for commerce at the beginning of the twentieth century, the khan was used for manufacture and storage until it was restored in 1990 for touristic use. The khan will probably host the Natural History Museum of Damascus in the future.

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Taken on January 12, 2011