In Cairo “the City of a Thousand Minarets” you can find many of the pharaonic, Coptic, and Islamic attractions. The importance of the mosques in Cairo is great because they reflect Islamic architecture and art and are sometimes mixed with other Roman, Coptic, Greek, and Ancient Egyptian influences.
One of the mosques that have great importance in architecture is the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. This Mosque is the oldest in Cairo although the Mosque of Amr Ibn Alas is the first mosque but does not retain its original structure. The Ibn Tulun Mosque is surviving in its original form.
The History of Ibn Tulun Mosque
Ahmed Ibn Tulun was a Turkish slave and later began to found his Tulunid dynasty. After the construction of his new capital “Al-Qatai”, he began to build his Mosque. The Mosque was built in the 9th century between 876 and 879. The Mosque was restored several times. The first restoration was in 1177 by the order of the Fatimid “Badr El-Din Al-Jamali”.
In the 12th century, the Mosque was a refuge for the pilgrims so it caused some damage. In 1296 Governor Lachin restored the Mosque and added its famous minaret. In 1999 it was restored with some renovations like the paving of the courtyard and the black marble fountain.
The Construction of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun
It’s one of the biggest mosques in Cairo and the only one left in the capital Al-Qatai. It was built in the west of the Citadel of Saladin. It’s rectangular 140 and 116 m. is a square central courtyard of 90 m. the courtyard is surrounded by arcades as access to the prayer room. In the center, there is a marble fountain for ablution.
The fountain is covered with a dome restored by Lajin in 1296 (the original dome fell in 968). In the prayer room, there are five aisles parallel to the Qibla (the direction that Muslims should face during prayer). The columns are attached and the ceiling is flat wooden. The Mosque is decorated with white plaster ornaments. The famous minaret is because its structure is very special, spiral staircase minaret.
About the Mosque of Ibn Tulun
The Mosque was built on Mount Yashkur. There are many legends about the site of the Mosque; they said it was the site of Noah’s Ark or where Moses saw Pharaoh’s magicians, or it is near the place where Abraham sacrificed Isaac. The structure of the minaret follows the model of Samarra, Iraq (outer spiral staircase). Exterior houses of the Mosque were found but most were destroyed in 1928.
Excursion in the Ibn Tulun Mosque
The Ibn Tulun Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world and the only one preserved in Egypt, if you want to visit the mosque, you can check our travel packages to Egypt where you can see other attractions in Egypt such as Cairo, Alexandria, and enjoy a cruise on the Nile between Luxor and Aswan.