Fountains in Jerusalem

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Some 30 sabils, built mostly during the Memluk and Ottoman era, are located in the city of Jerusalem (أسبلة القدس). These were built either by government or private individuals having the means to do so. These installations were so important that Turkish authorities would grant tax exemption to anyone who privately built a sabil for public use, on condition that he ensured that water would always be available for travelers at the sabil.

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List of Sabils in Jerusalem

circa 709 CE

Sabil al-Kas
al-Kas (سبيل الكأس), looking northwards, in front of al-Aqsa at Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), first built in 709 CE. It is used by the Muslims for ritual washing before prayer. Older guide books say the fountain is fed from the ancient aqueduct that brought water to the Temple Mount from Solomon's Pools and the hills of Bethlehem. Mameluke Emir Tankaz es-Nasr enlarged the fountain in 1327-28 CE.

circa 1216 CE

Sabil Sha'lan
View of the Sebil Sha'lan (سبيل شعلان) from south-west. Fountain of Shaalan was built by Malik al-Mu’atam Issa and was used as a water reservoir at Haram al-Sharif during most of 13th till 15th centuries CE.

circa 1266/1430 CE

Sabil Ibrahim Rumi
Sabil of Ibrahim Rumi (سبيل إبراهيم الرومي), at Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) also known as Sabil al-Basiri (سبيل البصيري) and Sabil Bab al-Nazir (سبيل باب الناظر), but according to the foundation inscription, the one who renovated it was Ibrahim al-Rumi in the Mamluk era, during the reign of Sultan al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Barsbai, Eypt’s 9th Mamluk sultan.

circa 1460 CE

Sabil Qaitbey
Sabil Qaitbay (سبيل قايتباي), as seen from Dome of Rock platform, the Bab ul-Qattanin (Gate of Cotton Merchants) can be seen in the background. Originally constructed in 1455 on the orders of the Egyptian Sultan al-Ashraf Sayf ad-Din Enal. In 1482, however, Sultan Qaitbay had it rebuilt, and the structure is named after him. The Sebil is fed by an old water cistern.

circa 1527 CE

Sabil Qasim Pasha
Sabil Qasim Pasha (سبيل قاسم باشا) with Qubat ul-Sakhr'a (Dome of Rock) in the background. The Fountain of Qasim Pasha also known as the Fountain of the Bitter Orange (al-Naranj Sabil) is an ablution and drinking fountain located in the western esplanade of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is situated in front of the Chain Gate.

circa 1536 CE

Sabil Birkat Sultan
Sabil Birkat e Sultan (سبيل بركة السلطان), is located adjacent to Birkat e Sultan (Sultan's Pool) at the southern edge. The recessed niche of the sabil has a double pointed arch, with the external arch having a double stone moulding frame. The spandrels of the arch are decorated with stone blocks in relief which were once adorned with stone bosses in the form of rosettes (Alud and Hillenbrand 2000, p.943-947).

circa 1536 CE

Sabil Tareeq ul-Wad
Sebil Tariq ul-Wad (سبيل طريق الواد) Constructed in 1536 CE by commission of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent on the east side of Tariq al-Wad. The sabil is located on Tariq al-Wad, north of the junction with Tariq Bab al-Silsila. The sabil is a single unit structure that consists of a lavishly decorated recessed niche with a pointed arch that rests upon two pillars to either side of a marble water basin.

The inscription reads in part: "Instructed us to build here a drinking place, our lord the Sultan, the great King... Sultan Suleiman son of Sultan Selim Khan, Allah will keep his kingdom and government for eternity".

circa 1537 CE

Sabil Sultan Suleiman
Sabil of Sultan Suleyman (سبيل سليمان القانوني), also known as Sebil e bab e Attim Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). It is located immediatly inside the Bab e Shah Faisal (Dark Gate) and faces Iwan of Sultan Mahmud. It is a free standing fountain and is fed through an aquaduct.

circa 1537 CE

Sabil Bab al-Silsila
Sebil Bab Silsila (سبيل باب السلسله) also known as the Sebil Sultan Suleiman lies in the small plaza immediately outside the Gate of the Chain (Silsileh/Shalshelet) of the Haram al-Sharif. This Ottoman structure is dated to 1537 CE (943 Hj.), and the inscription praises Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (reigned 1520-1566 CE), the great builder of Jerusalem. It is distinctive because of the medieval rose window tracery in the upper part and the sunken/excavated area in front.

circa 1552 CE

Sabil Haseki Sultan
Sabil Haseki Sultan Imaret (سبيل حسكي سلطان الإمارات), located within a courtyard in the Haseki Sultan complex, is an unadorned and very simple structure. It is a geometrically simple, two storey vault that holds the cistern within it. The water is made accessible at the bottom of a large stair that descends from the courtyard. The face of the sabil has four water taps with marble surrounds that face toward the courtyard above. Evidence suggests it was built as a sabil-kuttab (a special type of sabil that has a fountain at ground level for the public and a school or madrassa on its second level meant for young children). (Auld and Hillenbrand 2000, p.920-927).

circa 1579 CE

Sabil Bab al-Maghariba
Sabil Bab al-Maghariba (سبيل باب المغاربة) is a simple square plan structure built around an ancient cistern, located immediatly in front of the Bab al-Magharibah. The al-Buraq Mosque (right) with green window grill, and a couple of Corinthian column capitals are also visible (left). Today the sabil is no longer used, however, an 18th century waqfiyya (endowment document) mentions that a water-carrier was paid to fill the basins daily.

circa 1686 CE

Sabil Shurbaji
Sabil Shurbaji (سبيل شوربجي), is a small single storey stone structure. It sits on the corner of al-Wad street and the inner square of the Damascus Gate, and is covered by a shallow domed roof and is used as a mosque as well. In 1685 CE, Masid Al-Shurbaji donated money for the construction of a sabil to be open for all people to visit for water.

circa 1713 CE

Sabil Khalidi
Sabil al-Khalidi (سبيل الخالدي) is located to the north of Tariq Bab al-Silsila immediately east of its junction with the stepped street Daraj al-Ain leading from Tariq al-Wad Street, near the Bab al Qattanin of Haram al-Sharif. Muhammad San’allah al Khalidi, a member of the Khalidi family, founded the Waqf and the waqfiyya (endowment document) establishes the founder’s title, “Companion of the Prophet, Khalid ibn al-Walid”.

circa 1740 CE

Sabil Mustafa Agha
Sebil Mustafa Agha (سبيل مصطفى آغا) also known as Sebil-i Shaikh al-Budeyar was built by Mustafa Agha and Uthman Beq al-Fiqari in 1740 CE inside Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). It's a free standing fountain with arches on three sides and closed wall on the fourth. A short walk of about 20 meters southwest of Bab al-Nazir leads to this Sabil, located in the northwestern part of al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard. Sabil Mustafa Agha is actually the smallest and most beautiful of al-Aqsa Mosque’s Sabils, built at the northwestern corner of a stone mastaba (bench), the south of which is a mihrab (a prayer niche).


Sabil Sheikh Jarrah
Sebil e Sheikh Jarah (سبيل الشيخ جراح), located along the historical road to Nablus (Shechem) close to Sheikh Jarah Mosque. The Sebil dates from either Abbasid or Ottoman periods and is fed via water cistern.

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