Lady Tunshuq, of Mongolian or Turkish origin, was the wealthy wife of a Kurdish nobleman. She arrived in Jerusalem sometime in the 14th century and had this large residence built for herself in Al-Takiyya Street. It is considered one of the finest examples of Mamluke architecture in Jerusalem.
- Little is known about Lady Tunshuq. Her full name was Tunshuq al-Muzaffariyya. The title Muzaffariya reveals she had a relationship with someone by the name of al-Muzaffar, who could have been a prince or a king. The hill upon which her palace is built was renamed after Lady Tunshuq, providing further evidence of her affluence.
- The narrowness of the street prevents one from standing back and appreciating the building as a whole, but you can admire the three great doorways with their beautiful inlaid-marble decoration. The third door down is decorated with a Mamluke trademark, the stone ‘stalactites’ known as muqarnas.
- As well as the main hall on the ground floor and a reception hall and courtyard on the upper floor, the residence includes twenty-five rooms and four staircases.
- In 1552 the palace was incorporated into a large complex built by the wife of Sulayman the Magnificent, Khassaki Sultan. After her death in 1558, the building housed a charitable foundation until it became the residence of the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem in the 19th century. Today, the former palace serves as an orphanage with dependent workshops. It is not open to the public.
- When Lady Tunshuq died, she was buried in a small tomb across from the palace. The fine decoration on the tomb includes are panels of different coloured marble, intricately shaped and slotted together like a jigsaw- a typical Mamluke teacher known as joggling.
References: Jerusalem & The Holy Land – DK Travel guides, Archnet.org