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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mosque of Muhammad Ali

The largest mosque to be built in the first half of the 19th century, is, with its animated silhouette and twin minarets, the most visible mosque in Cairo. The mosque was built in memory of Tusun Pasha, Muhammad Ali's oldest son, who died in 1816.

The mosque was built on the site of old Mamluk buildings in Cairo's Citadel between 1830 and 1848, although not completed until the reign of Said Pasha in 1857. The architect was Yusuf Bushnak from Istanbul and its model was the Yeni Mosquein that city.

Before completion of the mosque, the alabastered panels from the upper walls were taken away and used for the palaces of Abbas I. The stripped walls were clad with wood painted to look like marble. In 1899 the mosque showed signs of cracking and some inadequate repairs were undertaken. But the condition of the mosque became so dangerous that a complete scheme of restoration was ordered by King Fuad in 1931 and was finally completed under King Farouk in 1939.

The main material is limestone but the lower storey and forecourt is tiled with alabaster up to 11,3 meters. The external facades are severe and angular and rise about four storeys until the level of the lead-covered domes.

The mihrab on the southeastern wall is three storeys high and covered with a semicircular dome. There are two arcades on the second storey, rising on columns and covered with domes. Although there are three entrances on each side of the forecourt, the usual entry is through the northeastern gate. The forecourt measures 50m. It is enclosed by arched riwaks rising on pillars and covered by domes.

The Eastern Section (The "Beit al Salah" or "House of Prayer")
The eastern section is the part that was dedicated to prayer. It is square in shape, each side measure 41m, and has a roof with a central dome (52m in height) resting on four large arches supported by massive piers. Surrounding the big central dome there are four half domes, while there are four more small domes covering the corners.
The marble mihrab is covered by a half-dome at the lower level. The domes are pointed and covered with medallions and other motifs. The interior dome is impressive because of its size and shape, similar to the Mosques of Istanbul. There are 6 medallions around the dome, which include the names of Allah (God) and Mohamed (the Prophet), as well as the names of the four rightly guided Caliphs, namely Abou Bakr, Omar, Othman, and Ali.
The mosque has 2 Minbars or pulpits; the original one is the larger, it is made of wood decorated with gilded ornaments, while the smaller one is of marble, it was gifted to the mosque by king Farouk in 1939
Above the entrance is a grand gallery supported on marble pillars with bronze balustrade. To the right of the entrance is the tomb of Mohamed Ali. It is made white marble covered with floral motifs, and pointed and gilded inscriptions. originally Mohamed Ali was not buried in his mosque but later during the time king Abbas I (1849-1854), His body was transferred from Housh El Basha to the inside of the mosque where it rests inside The bronze grill.
The Western Section (The Courtyard or the Sahn)
It is a large open courtyard of about 54 m in length and 53 m in width. It is surrounded by a single arched riwaqs or naves raised on pillars and roofed with small domes.
In the middle of the courtyard there is the ablution fountain, it is octagonal in shape and covered by a large leaded domed canopy resting on 8 pillars with natural ornaments. Inside the dome is another marble small dome and it is octagonal in shape, decorated with floral motifs. In the walls of the riwaqs of the courtyard there are 46 widows. While the Eastern wall which overlooks the Eastern Section, it has 8 windows above which there is a frieze of inscription of the Koran (Surat Al Fath),
Above the entrance to the Easter section there is frieze that bears the name of the Turkish sultan Abd Al Maguid.
Opposite to the doorway of the prayer House, at the far end of the centre of the NW Riwaq is a pavilion, above which is an elaborate French Clock, presented to Mohamed Ali in 1845 by the King Luis Philip in exchange of the obelisk which is now standing in the Concorde square in Paris. This clock has never been working properly!
At the west and the North Corners are 2 slender octagonal minarets that rise to 82 M in height. And has with 2 balconies.
When you visit Mohamed Ali mosque make sure of visiting the citadel of mohamed ali and the military museum illustrate the battles and wars of the Egyptian military.

Time to visit:

all seasons
How to drive to mosque of Mohamed Ali from el tahrir square:
You can get there by car from el tahrir square
Via salah salem 13 minutes
Take Talaat Harb to Kasr Al Nile
3 min (550 m)
Turn right onto Kasr Al Nile
4 min (850 m)
Take Kobri Al Azhar to Salah Salem St in Al Abageyah

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