Mohammad Ali mosque
Information about Mohammad Ali mosque Cairo
Mohammad Ali mosque is indeed the most popular Islamic mosque among tourists. Moreover, it is one of the most ancient mosques in Cairo. The mosque is also one of the most historic mosques because of its grandeur and its location in Cairo Citadel. In fact, Mohammad Ali mosque also sometimes referred to as the Alabaster Mosque. This is because of its extensive use of marble on some of the exterior walls and other surfaces. Mohammad Ali Mosque is the largest such structure built during the first half of the 19th century. It is more impressive at a distance than close up. Its artistic merit is questionable. Furthermore, the mosque is an unparalleled contribution to the skyline of Cairo. It is visible high atop the Citadel grounds.
In fact, Mohammad Ali Mosque has a great dome and towering minarets. They give Cairo Citadel a romantic and oriental quality. It makes up for any shortcomings in its detail. Mohammad Ali Mosque is the first feature that catches ones eyes at the fortress. Moreover, Mohammad Ali tore down the remains of Mamluk palaces and their dependencies. Mamluk palaces luckily described only a short time before by Napoleon’s scholars. They were the most impressive buildings in Cairo despite their dilapidated condition. To build the mosque on top of the preexisting structures, some ten meters of rubble filled in. Mohammad Ali, who was more eager to build modern factories than religious foundations. In fact, he erected this mosque, where he buried, as a monument to himself.
Mohammad Ali mosque is also an imperial mosque which challenged those of Istanbul. Salah al-Din, many centuries earlier, abolished all traces of Fatimid power and status. He refused to live in their palaces. Moreover, he dismantled and parceled them out to his courtiers. Mohammad Ali did the same. He destroyed all traces of the Mamluk palaces from Egypt. It was the reason that here is no royal palace left from these periods in Egypt. In fact, Mohammad Ali was viceroy and king of Egypt, as well as the founder of Egypt’s modern era. He achieved a radical break with all traditional characteristics of Cairo architecture. It was from the Mamluk to the late Ottoman period. Mohammad Ali mosque became a symbol of the city. The mosque of Mohammad Ali is the most visible of Islamic monuments in Cairo.
Mohammad Ali acted of Istanbul. He came closer to that of Istanbul than ever before in the architecture style. It included even its Western, and particularly French, influence. He came close to take the Ottoman Empire as his own. Moreover, he set out in Cairo to abandon the oriental Middle Ages. He built a city that would surpass Istanbul. The planning of Mohammad Ali mosque assigned to Mohammad Ali’s French architect. He was Pascal Coste. Pascal Coste wanted to build the mosque in the local Mamluk style. Mohammad Ali changed his mind and hired a Greek architect, Yusuf Bushnaq. That was to design Mohammad Ali mosque on a plan like Sultan Ahmad mosque in Istanbul. In fact, Mohammad Ali mosque built between 1830 and 1848. The long time it took to complete may be due to its size.
Mohammad Ali mosque combined with its prominent location and its profile of domes. They flanked by a pair of slender high minarets, contribute to its prestige. The Egyptians themselves place a great deal of pride in this monument. Moreover, the pencil shaped minarets are over eighty meters high. They stand on bases only three meters wide. In fact, the architecture of Mohammad Ali mosque is Ottoman. The domes are relative to their width, higher and less squat than those in Istanbul. The complex consists of two parts. Mohammad Ali mosque proper to the east and the open courtyard (or Sahn) to the west. The plan of Mohammad Ali mosque is a central dome carried on four piers. The spherical pendentives, flanked by four half-domes, and four smaller domes on each corner. There is also a dome that separates the Mihrab ceiling from the Qibla wall.
Measuring 41 meters square, the interior is impressive because of its size. It shows the wonderful arrangement of mass and space. It is characteristic of Istanbul Mosques. The main, high dome of Mohammad Ali mosque soars 52 meters high, with a diameter of 21 meters. The grandeur of this single, large chamber enhanced by the circle of small lamps. It hung in the middle of the praying area, and just above the main dome of the mosque. Other smaller lamps, many of them more modern, hung elsewhere in the mosque. They creating a spectacle of light that is grand in its own right. Within Mohammad Ali mosque are two minbars, or pulpits. The larger one of wood decorated with gilt ornament, and is original. It said to be one of the largest in Egypt, incorporating significant gold in its decorations.
The smaller one of alabaster was a gift from King Faruq, dates back to 1939. The Mihrab, or prayer niche, made of Egyptian marble. Mohammad Ali was not interred here. In fact, he buried at Housh el Basha. One of his successors, King Abbas I, had his body moved to this location. Mohammad Ali mosque has three entrances, on the north, west and east walls. The western entrance opens onto the courtyard. The courtyard surrounded by rounded arcades carrying small domes. It is like the Mosques of Sulayman Pasha and Malika Safiyya. These domes supported by large, though simple marble columns. The courtyard is almost square, measuring 54 by 53 meters. Moreover, the courtyard has a northern and southern entrance from the mosque.
In the middle of the courtyard is a marble ablution fountain with a carved wooden roof on columns. The fountain decorated in a style like that of the sabil-kuttab. In fact, it faces the madrasa of al-Nasir on Mu’izz street. That structure built by Ismail Pasha in 1828. The sabil and the upper part of the courtyard facade decorated with small oval wall paintings. On the west wall of the courtyard is an iron clock. It presented to Mohammad Ali by the French King Louis Philippe, with a tea salon on the upper level. Its style is a mixture of Neo-Gothic and oriental elements. In fact, it never worked, and never will. The clock, given as a gift in exchange for the obelisk now in the Palace de la Concorde, Paris. The decoration of the building is alien to Cairene traditions, and in fact, to Islamic art.
There are no stalactites, geometric shapes or arabesques. Only the inscription bands continue any type of Islamic tradition. Six large medallions around the dome enclose names. The names are God, Mohammad and the first four Khalifs. The script written over a royal blue. It often adorns windows in Mohammad Ali mosque. It actually represent verses from the poem, “Al Burda” Which written by Imam al Buseiry. Even the marble chosen for decoration is different from that of earlier Mosques. The decorations, which were not finished until 1857, are at odds. They are with the simplicity of the architectural structure itself. Many tourists and Egyptians themselves find Mohammad Ali mosque decorations beautiful. Its use of greens, golds and reds can be appealing to many.
The walls and piers of Mohammad Ali mosque paneled with alabaster. It is from Beni Suef in Upper Egypt. which is inappropriate for architecture as it deteriorates quickly. A gesture of baroque luxe, unless cleaned, the stone also becomes terribly grimy. In 1931 serious structural deviancy found in the dome and it had to be rebuilt. It took two years. Between 1937 and 1939 the decoration renewed. In the middle of the 1980s the whole Citadel complex was once again renovated.