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Al Azhar Mosque – the Finest Mosque in Cairo

Mosques and every religious structure play a vital role in organizing social life across all eras. And in Egypt, the importance of such places isn't only for just worship and praying but it also extends to be places for relaxation, meditation, and studying. Al Azhar Mosque which has a great history that deserves to be studied and visited.

The History of Building Al Azhar Mosque

Al Azhar Mosque, Cairo
In 969 CE, Egypt was occupied by Gohar Al Saqli who entered Egypt and started in building Cairo. After the opening of Cairo, Gohar Al Saqli insisted on establishing the great palace for the coming of Al Khalifa Al Moaz and during that period the establishing of Al Azhar Mosque was started to enable Al Khalifa Al Moaz to pray inside it and to make this mosque a symbol for the city as all people can meet, pray, and contemplate on all their life affairs. Although there were restoration works for keeping the architecture across eras, still the Fatimid impact has a great effect on the architecture of Al Azhar Mosque.

The Reason for Calling the Mosque, Al Azhar

The word Al Azhar itself has a wonderful meaning in the Arabic language as it means ''the most brilliant mosque''. Besides, there were some narrations that the name of the mosque is inspired by the name of Fatma Al Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Muhamed. This historical mosque is one of the best mosques in Cairo, the city of the thousand minarets.

The Architecture of Al Azhar Mosque

Al Azhar Mosque is so distinctive that it includes more sides and gates inside it. Actually, there are eight doors for Al Azhar Mosque; on the westside, Bab Al Mezainin and Bab Al Abasi. On the Southside, Bab Al Magrba, Bab Al Saida and Bab Al Shoam, on the north side, Bab Al Goharia and finally on the Eastside, Bab Al Harmin and Bab Al Shorba.

Through the time of establishing Al Azhar Mosque, its design was composed of three porticos. The hugest one of these porticos was called '' Al Qibla'' and on the other two sides, there were the two porticos. The current space of Al Azhar Mosque is about twice the size of the old space which the mosque firstly was established on. A collection of new porticos, minarets, schools, and niches are built to add more beauty to the place. So Al Azhar Mosque becomes like an exhibition for illustrating the beauty of Islamic architecture and how it has a great effect on Egypt's civilization and culture. See more splendid buildings in Islamic Cairo

The architecture engineering inside Al Azhar Mosque is connected to the history of Cairo as the materials used inside the structure are inspired by several periods of Egyptian history. Then the mosque has obtained several renewals made by every era. So the whole architecture is affected by several ways of designs from Egypt and outside Egypt. These impacts were mixed up with each other such as the domes that were made during the Ottoman era, and the minarets that were made during the Mamluk era.
Inside the Al Azhar Mosque
Inside the Al Azhar Mosque

Firstly, the mosque was built to appear as a great room for praying with five aisles and huge courtyards and since that time Al Azhar Mosque has obtained more developments. A central space was added to Al Azhar Mosque and was made by marble in addition to the aisles around the courtyard which had the curved shape with majestic inscriptions on it. And these curved shapes were made during the era of Al Hafez Le Dein Allah. There were also collections of some words from the Holy Quran which were added during the Fatimid era to give a spiritual shape surrounded by the transepts.

Qaitbay Minaret

Minarets of Al Azhar Mosque, Cairo
Minarets of Al Azhar Mosque
Al Azhar Mosque is distinctive by this wonderful minaret because it has a unique design. The shape of this minaret is like a cylinder column divided into two wonderful parts, the minaret also consists of three balconies that help the one move easily to reach the top and see the amazing roof of the minaret.

Al Gohri Minaret

This minaret was built in 1509 and distinctive by having a double head on its end. The top part of this minaret consists of two rectangle columns with brackets that reveal the shape of a horseshoe.

The Current Plan of Al Azhar Mosque

Al Azhar Mosque has several gates but still, the main current entrance to the mosque is Bab Al Mizainin, which leads to the courtyard that was made of white marble, and in front of it, there is the huge main room for praying. Through the northeast direction of Bab Al Mizainin, We find the courtyard that surrounds the Qubghawi School; and through the southwest of the end of the courtyard, we find the Taibrasia School. The niche is recently replaced by marble with golden inscriptions that decorate its sides.

How to Reach Al Azhar Mosque

Actually to reach Al Azhar Mosque is so easy because it is located on the heart of Cairo, exactly on Al Azhar Street, Al Darb Al Ahmer district, south Cairo. So easily you can reach it by car or taking the nearest metro station which is Al Ataba station. Therefore you will be in front of the Al Azhar Mosque.

Visiting Time

Notably, this great edifice is available to be visited without any fees, as it opens its gates for all visitors throughout the day. All that the visitors can do, is introducing respect to the place for its saintliness. Therefore enjoy the spirituality of the place.

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