Photograph: Zishan SheikhPhotograph: Zishan SheikhPhotograph: Zishan Sheikh

Name of Monument:

Slimaniya Madrasa


In the Medina, Tunis, Tunisia

Date of Monument:

Hegira 1148–69 / AD 1735–56

Period / Dynasty:

Husaynid, Ottoman


Ali Pasha I.


Ali Pasha I dedicated the madrasa to his son Sliman, who died of an illness. Historical sources talk of a poisoning by his brother Muhammad.

In 1168 (1755), during the reign of the second Husaynid bey, the madrasa went over to the Malekite rite. The order of foundation was given on the very day that Sliman Bey was buried in the Turbe al-Bashiya, founded by his father Ali Pasha I and situated next door to the madrasa.


The Slimaniya Madrasa is unusual for its monumental porch, four steps up from the road level. On each side, angled arches are held up by marble columns. These columns come to rest on lower columns set against the wall, which have neo-Corinthian capitals. Over the porch is a wide cornice of green tiles.
The copper-clad door sits in a horseshoe arch with arch-stones in two colours. It opens into a small, square hallway with a bench in the far wall. The hallway is strikingly decorated with Quallaline ceramic panels.
The rectangular courtyard (18 m x 13 m) is bordered on four sides with galleries. Horseshoe arches sit on bulbous limestone columns whose capitals are decorated with crockets. The corners of the galleries are reinforced by three coupled columns. Underneath three of the four galleries there are 18 tiny student cells (from 3.5 m to 4.2 m long by 2 m wide).
The mosque rises up alongside the east gallery.
A main door framed with alternating marble courses and two side doors with straight frames give access to the oratory. This building comprises three naves and four bays on a rectangular plan. This is achieved by the placing of two rows of three bulbous limestone columns. The columns have scrolled capitals from which rise long, parallelepiped imposts which support the groined-vaulted roof. The walls are covered with ceramic panels; over these runs a fine floral frieze, also in ceramic. A second epigraphic frieze, with cursive oriental writing on a white background, lists the 99 attributes of God. The upper parts have motifs carved in plaster.
The mihrab is preceded by a semi-spherical dome with an octagonal tambour which rests on corner-squinches in the form of a shell. The opening arch is decorated with a wide framework of marble arch-stones in two colours. The niche is lined with seven panels of alternating black and light-brown marble.

View Short Description

Situated in the Tunis Medina on a street of the same name, the Slimaniya Madrasa was built in the 18th century at the behest of Ali Pasha I and dedicated to the memory of his son, Sliman, who, according to some sources, was poisoned by his brother Muhammad. The madrasa was given over to Malekite students. Architecturally, its most distinctive feature is a monumental porch over the entrance that is raised on columns with Turkish capitals and crowned by a cornice of green tiles.

How Monument was dated:

Historical sources. The order of foundation was given on the very day that Sliman Bey was buried in the Turbe al-Bashiya, founded by his father Ali Pasha I and situated next door to the madrasa.

Selected bibliography:

Brunshvig, R., “Quelques remarques historiques sur les medersas de Tunisie”, Revue tunisienne, No. 6, 1931.
Mamouri, T., Djamic al-Zaytuna wa madaris al-ilm fi al-ahdayni al-hafsi wa al-turki (The Zaytuna and madrasa of the Hafsids and Turks), Tunis, 1980.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954, pp.469–70.
Zbiss, S. M., Les monuments de Tunis, Tunis, 1971, p.56.
Ifriqiya: Thirteen centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, p.88.

Citation of this web page:

Mohamed Béji Ben Mami "Slimaniya Madrasa" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020.;ISL;tn;Mon01;14;en

Prepared by: Mohamed Béji Ben MamiMohamed Béji Ben Mami

Né le 27 janvier 1950 à Tunis, docteur en archéologie islamique, Mohamed Béji Ben Mami est directeur général de l'Institut national du patrimoine et vice-président de la Municipalité de Tunis. Il a restauré, sauvegardé et mis en valeur plus d'une cinquantaine de monuments de la médina de Tunis, dirigé les fouilles de grands sites islamiques et organisé diverses expositions relatives à la civilisation arabo-islamique.
Depuis 1996, il est vice-président de l'Union des historiens arabes et représentant de l'Union des archéologues arabes de Tunisie.
Mohamed Béji Ben Mami a pris part à divers congrès internationaux et publié plusieurs articles et ouvrages, parmi lesquels Tourbet el-Bey (Tunis, 2004) et Les médersas de la médina de Tunis (Tunis, 2005).

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: David Ash
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: TN 14


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