Saturday, June 21, 2008

Historical Cairo

The amount of history and culture in Egypt is unbelievable - from pharonic mummies to othoman mosques. It is definately worth a visit; and make sure to get on some guided tours to get the most of your trip and soak in all the history.

The photos below are from some of the sites we visited. The architecture is absolutely stunning. Not only are the designs and materials used breathtakingly beautiful, the buildings are designed to meet their function perfectly. There are study areas in mosques designed to be cool and well lit even during the hottest summer day, and the buildings are designed to echo sound so that the athan can be heard beautifully from any corner without any amplification. Click here for some background on each of the historical masajid.

Masjid Amr ibn al As (the conquerer of Egypt)- the first mosque in Egypt built in 642 CE. The above photo is for the wudu` area in the middle of the mosque. Before restoration, this area was reserved for Zakat collection.

These pillars, as well as many others throughout old Cairo, are from Roman and Bizantianne ruins which existed in Egypt before Amr ibn al-As's army conquered the province.

Masjid Mohammad Ali in the Citadel - photo taken from the newly opened Azhar park (not affiliated to Al-Azhar but in a neighbouring area). The mosque's design is similar to that of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It is gorgeous from the inside as well as the outside.

Masjid and madrassah as-Sultan Hassan, 1356 CE. This is the second oldest school for Islamic studies after al-Azhar

The door says "Maliki school". There are three other classrooms with the name of the three other Imams of the major Islamic schools of thought. Students of this school would study all the four school of fiqh before graduating.

The lanterns in the mosque are around 700 years old and still in good condition. This one has the verse from Surah an-Noor inscribed on it.

Masjid ar-Rifai finished early last century. This mosque has inside it the graves of the royal family. It is right next to masjid as-Sultan Hassan, and was designed to reflect similar architecture.

In the area called "Old Cairo" are several historical churches and a Jewish temple. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed in most of them. The photo below is a figure showing the areas Mary and prophet Issa, peace be upon them, are believed to have visited during their trip to Egypt. The churches and temple were built during the Islamic era (Amr ibn al-As donated land areas to priests for religious buildings), since religious minorities were discriminated against during Roman and Bizantine times.

Inside the "Hanging Church" - named due to the fact that it was constructed over the Roman wall protecting Cairo.

Masjid Al-Ghouri

The mosque from the inside. This gem is tucked away in a busy area next to al-Azhar and is still packed with worshippers during prayers (as are many of the other historic mosques).

I was surprised to see a shape resembling the star of david in many mosques.

Next to the mosque is a small rennovated building used for cultural shows such as the Whirling Dervish. The show is free but you have to arrive early to find a seat. It was interesting but more cultural than spiritual.

This is just a glimpse of historical Cairo; there is so much more to see, hear, smell and experience.


Yesi King said...

thanks for posting huda:) its weird that you post this now because i've actually been thinking about islamic architecture a lot lately, particularly in egypt:) btw here is a link to a documentary titled paradise found, a documentary about islamic architecture:)

Yesi King said...

oh that didn't copy well....hmmm.... well just go on google video and search paradise found, you should be able to watch:)

Sarah Al-Habib said...

It worked! I just copied and pasted, thank you!

Huda... I wanna go to Egyppptttt! I loved it! Especially the historical captions you posted. Jazaks!