Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan

sights / Religious

Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan information

Cairo , Egypt
Midan Salah ad-Din
admission E£25
Opening hours
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Massive yet elegant, this great structure is regarded as the finest piece of early-Mamluk architecture in Cairo. It was built between 1356 and 1363 by the troubled Sultan Hassan, a grandson of Sultan Qalaun; he took the throne at the age of 13, was deposed and reinstated no less than three times, then assassinated shortly before the mosque was completed. Tragedy also shadowed the construction when one of the minarets collapsed, killing some 300 onlookers. Beyond the striking, recessed entrance, a dark passage leads into a square courtyard whose soaring walls are punctured by four iwan s (vaulted halls), one dedicated to teaching each of the four main schools of Sunni Islam. At the rear of the eastern iwan, an especially beautiful mihrab is flanked by stolen Crusader columns. To the right, a bronze door leads to the sultan’s mausoleum.

Opposite the grand mosque, the Mosque of Ar-Rifai is constructed on a similarly grand scale, begun in 1869 and not finished until 1912. Members of modern Egypt’s royal family, including Khedive Ismail and King Farouk, are buried inside, as is the last shah of Iran. Their tombs lie to the left of the entrance.