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An Egyptian monument in Greece: The külliyye of Mehmed Ali Pasha in Kavala

Talk delivered on October 13, 2021 to the Islamic Art Circle of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

This talk tells the story of the külliyye (pious endowment complex) that Muhammad Ali Pasha (r. 1805-1848) built in his home town of Kavala in modern-day Greece over a period of thirteen years, 1808 -1821. It traces the story of this complex of interconnected buildings that includes a medrese (theological seminary), a sıbyan mekteb (primary school), a kütüphane (library), a dershane (lecture hall) which also served as a mosque, a Mühandeshane-i Hayriyye (Charitable College of Engineering), sixty rooms to house the students, and an imaret (soup kitchen to feed the students and the teachers. The talk relies on documents culled from the Egyptian National Archives that shed light on the political, economic and religious background to this huge complex of buildings, as well as on recent scholarship that analyzed the original vakfiyes / wafiyyāt and the dedicatory inscriptions on the complex.

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