The Ibn-Tulun Mosque is by far the most beautiful mosque in Cairo. Simple, clear shapes make the building of 879 the center of the universe. The huge inner courtyard, in which there is a covered fountain, was built on the model of Mecca. The Ibn-Tulun Mosque is the largest mosque in Cairo in terms of area. However, this type of building is actually a large square that is enclosed on all sides by arcades. The floor plan consists of a square with an edge length of 122 m, which was extended by 20 m towards Mecca (Qibla).
The minaret stands outside the square, on the opposite side of the qibla, slightly offset from the center. It consists of a tower with a square base from which a round tower grows upward, which tapers towards the top. An external staircase winds around the round part of the tower. The minaret of the Ibn-Tulun Mosque is one of the landmarks of Cairo.
The Ibn-Tulun Mosque was built by Ahmad ibn Tulun on a hill where Noah's Ark is said to have landed after the Flood. Ahmad ibn Tulun was the governor of the Abbasids, who ruled an Islamic world empire from Baghdad. Ahmad ibn Tulun broke away from the Abbasids and founded the Tulunid dynasty which ruled over Egypt from 868 to 905.
The "Ottomans" under Pasha Mohammed Ali, built the mosque from 1824-1884 according to Istanbul models. The 82 m high minarets and the location directly on thehill of the citadel, make the mosque visible from far away. Even the view over the city makes the visit worthwhile.
The "Al-Ashraf Barsbey Mosque" was built in 1423. Al-Ashraf Sayfad Din Barsbay was the Sultan of the Mameluks from 1422 until 1438. The dome shows the zigzag pattern typical of Mameluckian architecture.
Amr ibn al-As conquered Egypt in 639 AD for the prophet. The mosque was built in 643 as the first Muslim mosque in Africa. Not much is left of the mosque historic mosque. The present building dates mostly from the late 18th century. But the Amir Ibn al-As Mosque is still famous for beeing the first mosque in Africa.
Construction of the mosque began in 1356 the building was completed in 1363. The Sultan Hassan Mosque is considered to be a beautiful example of Mameluk architecture. Right next to the Sultan Hassan Mosque stands the Al-Rifa'i Mosque.
The construction of the Ar-Rifai Mosque began in 1819. The Neo-Mameluk mosque was completed in 1912. The mosque also served as the burial place of the royal family. Mohammad Reza, the last Shah of Persia, was also buried here in 1980.
The Bab Al-Futhu was built around 1087 as part of the city fortification of Cairo. The rounded shape of the two towers offered less attack surface than rectangular gateways. The historic gate is still very well preserved. The Bab Al-Futuh is located next to the Al-Hakim (Al Jame al Anwar) Mosque.
An oriental dream of 1001 nights. Here you can see everything that shines and looks Arabic. The many beautiful arches and gates made of natural stone, which always block the view, make the bazaar a charming labyrinth. The market was created in the 14th century, on a former Mameluk cemetery.
The Sabil-Kuttab is considered the best example of the symbiosis of Ottoman and Mameluk architecture in the Islamic center of Cairo. Sabil is a public well and Kuttab is a small elementary school, where reading and writing is taught. The Sabil-Kuttab was built in 1744 by architect Abd al Rahman Katkhuda.
The Al-Azhar Mosque was built in 972, making it one of the city's oldest mosques. The school of the mosque is considered to be the leading Islamic university in Egypt. The complex was often rebuilt and the building parts are not created in a uniform style. Worth seeing is the courtyard of white marble.
The Al-Hakim Mosque which is also known as Al Jame al Anwar, sits next to the city gate Bab Al-Futhu. In the large courtyard stands a fountain of red marble, the minarets of the 1013 built mosque, are among the oldest in Cairo. The square in front of the mosque once served as slave market.
El-Moallaka "the floating church" was built in the 9th century over an ancient Roman fortress. The Coptic church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Coptic Christians go back to the Orthodox Church in Byzantium, but split off in 451. Approximately 10% of the Egyptian population belong to the Coptic faith. The interior of the church is supported by a vaulted wooden beams, the light appears in a very mystical nature, while shining through the garret windows.
St. George church (Mari Girgis) is a round church built on a Roman watchtower in 1909. St. George is revered as a martyr because he refused to abjure the Christian faith and was executed by the Romans in 303 AD. The huge church is lacated in the Coptic Quarter of Cairo.
The Nilometer determined the water level of the Nile during the annual floods. According to the height of the water, you could predict the harvest and calculate the tax due. The Nilometer Institute set the tax for Egypt and was thus the most important instrument for the state treasury.
Sultan Nasir Mohammed Ibn Kalaoun ruled from 1293 to 1341 the kingdom of the Mamelukes. He revived the construction industry of the city with numerous projects. The Medrese and Mausoleum of Sultan at-Nasr Mohammed was built around 1300. The cupola of the Mausoleum became iconic and was copied many times in islamic architecture.
The Sayyidna al-Hussein Mosque is the holiest place of worship for Muslims in Cairo, because the severed head of Prophet Muhammad's grandson is kept in here. The screens in front of the mosque are set up for Friday prayers to allow all believers to pray when the mosque is already full.
The Cemetery Qaitbey also called "City of the Dead", was built in the 14th century. The cemetery is characterized by the magnificently decorated mausoleums of the Mamluks. Worth seeing is the Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaytbay Mosque.
The Cairo Tower was opened in 1961 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The tower and the restaurants were completely renovated in 2009. When you move in the streets, Cairo is a confusing chaos of houses, walls and streets. If you stand on top of the 187 m high Cairo Tower you can see the whole extent of this giant metropolis. One sees the citadel, the Nile, the minarets and of course the pyramids of Giza. The view from the observation deck is wonderful and absolutely important to understand the biggest city of Egypt.
Near Sharia Talaat Harb, there is a Babylonian-style synagogue. The Temple Ismailia synagogue was opened in 1899.
Welcome to Cairo
With more than 10 million inhabitants, Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa. Only Lagos in Nigeria has similar numbers of inhabitants. Cairo is located at the point where the Nile passes into the Nile Delta. This strategically important location has contributed to the rise of the city. The old town of Cairo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous interesting Islamic buildings. Cairo's top attractions include the Ibn Tulun Mosque, the Bazaar and the Coptic Quarter.