24 February 2024 09:40 PM

Islamic monuments in Cairo

Wednesday، 13 July 2022 - 03:38 PM

Cairo city was established in the Islamic era by Jawhar al-Siqali leader. It played an important role as a beacon of Islamic civilization. Therefore, Cairo city flourishes with many of the remaining monuments and shrines, bearing witness to the status and construction of this city in the successive Islamic eras. Among the most prominent Islamic monuments in Cairo are as follows:

-Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque

It is in Fustat, in the Old Cairo district. It is the first mosque built in Egypt after Amr Ibn Al-Aas opened it in the year 20 AH corresponding to the year 641 AD.


 This mosque was built in 21 AH corresponding to 641 AD.


On its establishament it was a center of governance and a nucleus for the call to the Islamic religion in Egypt. Then the Fustat city, which is the first capital of Islamic Egypt, was built around it.  


The significance of the location is overlooked both the Nile and the Babylon Fortress. This mosque is the first mosque built in Egypt. The mosque was referred to as both "the Crown of the Mosques" and "the Antique Mosque"


Mosque of Ibn Tulun

Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque has been considered the third mosque in an Islamic Egypt.


It was established by Ahmed Ibn Tulun to be a   gathering mosque for Muslims to meet at Friday prayer. Its area is about six and a half acres. The living of Ibn Tulun in Iraq had an impact on the transfer of Iraqi architectural styles to Egypt during his reign and the emergence of those influences on the mosque’s architecture, whether in terms of design or in terms of planning and decoration.

 At the eastern portico there is part of a marble plaque that included the name of the builder and the date of the mosque’s establishment written in Kufic script.

 The mosque consists of a square courtyard in the middle, an open courtyard of about 92 square meters, surrounded by four corridors, the largest of which is the qibla gallery, which consists of five naves, and each of the remaining three galleries consists of only two naves.



 Al-Azhar mosque

 Al-Azhar Mosque (359 - 361 AH) / (970 - 972 CE), is the most important in Egypt and the most famous in the Muslim world. It has been a mosque and a university for more than a thousand years now.


It was established for the purpose of spreading the Shiite Doctrine when Egypt was conquered by Jawhar Aṣ-Ṣiqilli, the army leader of Al-Mu‛izzulidīn Allah, the first Fatimid Caliph in Egypt.


Currently, Al-Azhar teaches Islam according to the Sunni Doctrine. After founding the city of Cairo, Aṣ-Ṣiqilli started building Al-Azhar Mosque and completed it. The first Friday Prayer was held in it on the 7thRamadan 361 AH /972 CE. It is thus the first mosque to be established in the city of Cairo and the oldest Fatimid monument existing in Egypt.



Historians have disagreed on the origin of naming this mosque. It is most likely that the Fatimids named it Al-Azhar after Fatima Az-Zahrā᾿, daughter of Prophet Muḩammad (peace be upon him), out of love for her and in commemoration of her high esteem.


 -Muhammad Ali mosque


It is located inside the Citadel of Salah al‑Din al‑Ayyubi (Saladin) in Cairo. It was built by Muhammad Ali Pasha (1220–1264 AH/1805–1848 AD), the founder of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty (1220–1372 AH/1805–1953 AD), on the site of Mamluk palaces.

This mosque was built for praying and for Mohamed Ali to be buried in. Mohamed Ali was buried in the tomb situated on the southern-east side of Beit Al Salah, to the right hand side of the entrance which leads to the main section.



The plan of this mosque was made according to the model of Sultan Ahmed Mosque at Istanbul. The Mohamed Ali Mosque is also called the Alabaster Mosque because of the shining marble which covers its inner and outer walls.


The mosque is rectangular in shape and it consists of two sections: The Eastern Section, the main section ( Beit al Salah ) and the Western Section or the courtyard (the Sahn).


The Eastern section is the part which is dedicated for the prayer, also it includes the Mohamed Ali's Tomb, while the Western section is a large open courtyard of about 177 feet in length and 173 feet in width.


 Al-Nasir Muhammad Ibn Qalawun Mosque


 It was built about 700 years ago. It is located approximately in the center of the citadel. In the past, it occupied the southeastern corner of the yard, which was known as “The Red Rahba” in front of the citadel door. This mosque remained the mosque of the citadel until Muhammad Ali Pasha set up a mosque opposite it. It was built by King Al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun in the year 718 AH / 1318 AD.


 Salah El-Din Citadel,


 It is known as the Citadel of the Mountain. It  is one of the most important landmarks of Islamic Cairo. This location provides it with defensive importance because it controls the cities of Cairo and Fustat, and it also forms a high natural barrier between the two cities.


Salah al-Din established this fortress on a hill of the Mokattam Mountain. His brother al-Malik al-Adil completed its construction in 1208 AD, with the aim of securing Cairo against possible invasions.


Salah al-Din was completely successful in choosing the location of the citadel. As, it achieved complete supervision over Cairo, to the extent that its garrison was able to carry out two war operations at the same time, namely tightening the home front and cutting off anyone who departs from it from obeying the Sultan, and resisting any external attempts to seize Cairo.


The wall that Salah al-Din built around Cairo to defend it against any external aggression is one of the important military installations that completed the role of the castle in the Middle Ages, and it is the wall that was recently discovered. Outside Fatimid Cairo, between Bab Zuweila and Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque, he divided it into several lines, including the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar line, which is still known by this name until today. At the top of this area is the Mosque of Al-Salih Tala'i bin Razik, which is considered the last monument from the Fatimid era in Egypt.


The Nilometer on Rawda

The Nilometer in Al-Rawdah is one of the most important monuments of the Abbasid state. Since ancient times, the Egyptians knew the construction of gauges in all parts of the country to know the height of the Nile due to its close relationship to land irrigation and the collection of abscess - Arab sources refer to many standards that were established in Egypt after the Arab conquest.

The function of the scale: is to know the amount of Nile water and based on it they know whether it will irrigate all the lands or whether a dry season or a flood will come.


The scale consists of:

1- A stepped octagonal marble column, surmounted by a Roman crown, about 17 cubits long, engraved with measurement marks.


2- In the middle of the column is a square well built with refined stones. Its thickness increases as the depth increases. Accordingly, the well was constructed from three layers: the lower in the form of a circle, above it a square layer whose sides are greater than the diameter of the circle, and the upper and last square has a side greater than the middle square.

It is worth noting that the thickness of the walls and their gradation in this way, indicates that the Muslims were aware of the engineering theory of the increase in the horizontal pressure of the soil as the depth increases to the bottom.


3- A staircase runs around the walls of the well from the inside, leading to the bottom.

4- The measurement is connected to the Nile through three tunnels, the water of which pours into the well through three openings on the eastern side, so that the water remains still in the well, as the movement of water in the Nile is from south to north, and therefore there is no direction of water movement in the eastern and western sides.


5- Above these openings are pointed arches resting on columns built into the walls, with capitals and bell bases.


6- The middle column rests on a base of wood that is not affected by water, in order to install it from below.Inscriptions and archaeological writings on this scale

On the north and east side are archaeological inscriptions in Kufic script.


On the southern and western side are inscriptions dating back to the days of Ahmad ibn Tulun in the year 259 AH.


 Al-Rifai Mosque:


 Al-Rifai Mosque is the twin of the Sultan Hassan Mosque facing it and its similar in size and height. Although the time difference between them is about 500 years. The Sultan Hassan Mosque was established in the year 1359 AD, while the construction of the Al-Rifa’i Mosque was initiated in 1869 AD, As, Khoshyar Hanim, the mother of Khedive Ismail has ordered this. This mosque is also distinguished by the precision of both  its industry and its decoration .Its area  amounted to ​​6500 square meters. It compete with the Sultan Hassan Mosque in luxury, grandeur and splendor.


It is strange that this mosque, despite its name al-Rifa’i. He was not buried there, but al-Rifa’i, the well-known and well-known guardian of God, was buried in Iraq.



Perhaps the reason for this name is that the space occupied by the mosque used to occupy a part of it, a corner called the Al-Rifa’i Zawiya, in which some of the sheikhs of Al-Rifa’i’s students and followers were buried.


Khoshyar Hanim purchased the land of the mosque and entrusted Hussein Fahmy Pasha, the undersecretary of the Diwan of Endowments, to prepare a project to build a large mosque with burial grounds for her and her family and two domes for the two sheikhs, Ali Abu Shubbak and Yahya Al-Ansari. Due to circumstances, the construction of the mosque was stopped from 1880 to 1905 until the reign of Khedive Abbas Helmy II to Ahmed Khairy Pasha, director of private endowments, to complete the mosque and it was opened in

Khoshyar Hanim died in 1885 and was buried in this mosque before the completion of its construction.

 Many members of Muhammad Ali’s family were also buried there, such as Khedive Ismail in 1895 and three of his wives died after him. Sultan Hussein Kamel was buried there in 1971, King Fouad in 1936, his mother, Princess Firyal, and his son, King Farouk in 1965 and the Shah of Iran in 1980.

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