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Austere but hugely influential as an institution, the Zincirli Medrese was built by Mengli Giray Khan in 1550, close to the original khans’ palace, and just below the important domed türbe where Mengli and his father Hacı Giray Khan lie buried.
In the 19th century, the school was attended the great thinker and journalist Ismail Bey Gaspiralı who was taught here and would later experiment with educational reforms that brought immediate literacy to Muslims all over the world – his grave stands behind the school, although the tomb had to be reerected after being flattened by Soviet bulldozers. The medrese remained a school until the Russian Revolution and it has recently been sympathetically restored with Turkish government funding. It now serves as an archaeological museum exhibiting local finds, including interesting pottery.
The chimneys outside mark the individual cells. An unusual domed arcade takes up most of the central courtyard, perhaps against the winter cold. The has now been glazed over. The medrese takes its name from the chain over the modest entrance, which obliges visitors to bow as they enter the medrese.
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