Barka Khan (d. 1246) was a prominent chief of the disbanded Khwarizm Shah army. His tomb in Jerusalem is bound by Tariq Bab al-Silsila Street to the north and Aqabat Abu Maydan to the west and southwest. While not certain, evidence shows that the tomb was built by his son Badr al-Din Muhammad Bey, who was interned next to his father and his brother Husam al-Din Barka Khan Bey (d. 1263, Cairo), a year after his death in Damascus in 1280. The tomb, therefore, was built sometime between 1246 and 1280. There is some inconclusive evidence that a mosque was also built to form a funerary complex.
The rectangular plan tomb is centered on the formerly enclosed courtyard with tombstones, which is flanked by a small vaulted chamber at the southeast corner and a large rectangular room to the west. Two shops, entered from the street, occupy the northeast corner.
The tomb incorporates the foundation of an earlier structure on the site, and masonry and arches dating from the Crusader period. Only the façade on Tariq Bab al-Silsila survives from the original Mamluk structure, which was modified in 1390 with the addition of a water trough, five apartments and two shops. The vaulting of the courtyard was also restored at this time. The tomb was incorporated into the residence of the Khalidi family as the family mosque at an unknown date. In 1900, a library of 12,000 books and manuscripts was later created by Shaykh Raghib al-Khalidi and the interior was substantially remodeled per the new function.
Built in two phases during the Mamluk era, the northern elevation currently features the following elements: the courtyard portal, a low drinking trough, a large grilled window giving views into the courtyard, and two windows of the western room. The larger window of the western room, known as the Romanesque portal, was enclosed to form a window sometime at the turn of the century. An inscription on the lintel of the courtyard window identifies this window, the courtyard portal and the water trough as part of the 1390 restoration, commissioned by Muhammad bin Khamad bin Timur al-Ala'i. A second inscription above the courtyard window states the names of Barka Khan and Husam al-Din as the tomb's owners and Barka Khan's date of death.
The triple nestled archway of the Romanesque portal, now a window of the western room, represents a continuation of Crusader-Ayyubid architectural tradition seen in earlier Jerusalem monuments such as the Holy Sepulchre Church and Afdaliyya Madrasa. Red and white stone courses (ablaq) decorate the rectangular doorway inside the shallow recess of the courtyard portal, which is fitted with stone benches. Ablaq masonry is also used in the jambs and lintel of the courtyard window.
Inside the courtyard, the graves of Barka Khan and his two sons are marked with three shallow cenotaphs along the western wall, which has a doorway leading into the reading room and a window to its left. The eastern wall is two stories tall and has a door, a lower window and four upper windows with nineteenth century Ottoman frames. Crusader spolia such as capitals and carved stones with shields can be seen on the courtyard walls.
Burgoyne, Michael. Mamluk Jerusalem, 109-116. London: The British School of Archeology in Jerusalem Press, 1987.