Cairo is the capital of Egypt and one of the cities that attracts many tourists from all over the world. Cairo is rich in its history, where you can find traces of the Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Christian, and Islamic eras. Each era has its own style and architecture that is reflected in the buildings.
The Islamic structure is found in the bazaar of Jan El-Khalili, the Citadel of Saladin, and especially in the mosques. One of the oldest and most important mosques in Cairo is the Al-Azhar Mosque. This mosque is considered the first Islamic university in Cairo and the second in the world.
The History of Al-Azhar Mosque
The Mosque was built in the Fatimid dynasty. In 969 Caliph Al-Muiz ordered Gawhar Al-Seqely to build the new city “Cairo”. Then one year in 970, Al-Muiz ordered to build the first mosque in his new city Cairo. The construction of the Mosque was completed in 972 and it was first opened for prayer. In 988 a school was founded in the Mosque and it was considered as the center of the Shiite doctrine.
The mosque was not only for religious studies but also for science, medicine, and other studies. After the end of the Fatimid dynasty, the Ayyubid dynasty was started by Saladin. Saladin wanted to finish the Shiite doctrine, so the Mosque did not matter. Since the arrival of the Mamluks they added schools, others built minarets and imported extended, and restored the Mosque. So the Mosque was the center of the Sunni doctrine until now.
The Construction of Al-Azhar Mosque
The Mosque was built in the center of Islamic Cairo. Changes in Egyptian governments are reflected in the construction of the Mosque as monuments of Ancient Egypt, Romans, and Greeks. The original Mosque was small, rectangular of 85 m and 65 m. There were a prayer room and a courtyard in its center around which there was a wall. The current Mosque is bigger than the original one.
The current Mosque has almost 6 doors, but the main entrance is “Bab Zewela” the barber’s door (it was built in the 18th century). There is a large white marble courtyard surrounded by ancient pillars. There is also a study room and a library where you can find 100 thousand volumes, some of them are ancient manuscripts from the 8th century. The five minarets are from different dynasties (14th, 15th, and 16th centuries).
About Al-Azhar Mosque
It was said that the name of the Mosque was chosen because of the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter “Fatima Al-Zahraa”. Al-Zahraa means the bright or shining one. Although the changes and renovations in the Mosque, some Fatimid ornaments are found such as natural plant motifs, geometric styles, and Kufic writing. In some details of the Mosque resembles the Mosque of Amr Ibn Alas (the first mosque in Egypt and Africa).
Explore the Immortal City of Cairo
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city of Cairo and learn more about its history, through our day trip to Cairo. You can also visit Luxor and Aswan for a Nile cruise or visit other destinations with Cairo for our Egypt travel packages. Choose your preferred vacation now.