A Tour In Egypt's Mohammed Alis Mosque
By Muhammad "Gogo" Hegab
Welcome to Egypt Welcome to Cairo
"You must be longing to see Egypt. For that youll refuse to go to the hotel, and youll prefer to start from this moment. I know you want to see the Pyramids, now. Its your lifes dream. Well, but do you think youre able now to ride a horse, or a camel in the desert of Pyramids? Will you be able to descend deeply inside Pyramids to see if those great kings lay there? Probably not today, and Im sure you dont want to miss that. Ill advise you to suspend that until tomorrow. You need some rest now. Whats a better place than a Citadel to find rest and safety?! Well, lets go!
"Look! Were still far away, but you can see it clearly. This Citadel that rises on The Hill of Al-Moqattam, in one of the highest areas in Cairo. What a perfect place for a Citadel! Its called: Qalet El-Gabal (Citadel of The Mountain) or Qalet Salah El-Deen Al-Ayouby (Citadel of Salah El-Deen Al-Ayouby). Its about 800 years old, but still firm and grand. It dominated the landscape for many centuries.
"Its too vast to be explored in one day, but we can have a quick look around. You may like to enter this mosque or that. Many mosques have been built on it through all these years. You may also like to enter this museum or that, to discover the Modern History of Egypt. You must be wondering at the wonderful weather and the pure air. Thats because the site that was chosen very carefully. When they thought about building the Citadel, they hung pieces of meat in many places. The healthiest area was where the meat took a longer time to decay. No wonder that its still alive. You can easily imagine the soldiers in the towers and on top of the walls, ready to spend their souls to save this place. "Do you see this great mosque? Its called Mohammed Alis Mosque. He was one of the greatest governors of Egypt in the modern age. When he came to power in the 19th century, he saw that it was necessary to build a big mosque in The Citadel to be a place for prayer and other tasks. With its two high minarets and huge dome, you can easily see it from many places in Cairo and it dazzle eyes everywhere.
"Do you know why you might find it familiar? Because it was designed by the famous Turkish engineer, Yousof Boshtaq, so it came as a mix of Al-Sultan Ahmads Mosque and Aya Sofias Mosque in Turkey. If Pyramids are the mark of Ancient Egypt, and if Al-Azhar Mosque is the mark of Islamic Egypt, Mohammad Alis Mosque iscertainly the mark of Modern Egypt.
"The mosque consists of two parts: The covered space (The place of prayer), and the open courtyard. Lets explore the covered space first. How big is it?! Its about 41x41 meters. Lets go to the center, between these four huge columns. Look up! This is a big dome from inside. It extends up 52 meters and is 21 meters in diameter. It is surrounded by four half domes, with the same diameter, but less in height. The four corners of the mosque are covered with four small domes.
"Lets go now towards the northeast side of the mosque to see this part thats bulging-out, Its the space of the "qeblah" (niche). It is covered with another half dome. Look around! Do you see these two "menbers" (pulpits)? This small one beside the niche is made up of marble. This green one is the biggest pulpit in Egypt. Please dont touch it in order not to affect its gilt. Its so precious!
"Do you notice these colored lights? They come from these big and high windows with stained glass in the walls. Do you see these small windows in the big dome, half domes, and the small domes? They are so nice. They give a beautiful effect, but you dont need to count them. If you asked me, I would tell you there are 136 windows. I see youre dazzled by these wonderful colored decorations in the walls and domes. Well, you have the right to be dazzled, but we arent going to spend all day here. We still have a lot to see.
"Lets go out through the main door in the back wall. Now we are in the open courtyard, the other part of the mosque. Do you feel its size? Yes, its about 53x54 meters, larger than the mosque. Whats this thing in the center of the court? Its a fountain! It would have been used for rinsing before prayers. This bulge beside it is the mouth of the water tank.
"Look around! You see that the courtyard is surrounded by arched arcades and covered by small domes. Dont you think that these 47 domes are very beautiful? Look at this small tower, in the back of the court. Its made of laced brass & colored glass. This clock inside it was a gift from Louis Felipe, King Of France to Egypt, because Mohammed Ali had presented France with the Egyptian obelisk that is currently in the Place de la Concorde, Paris.
"Well, lets walk around the mosque. May be you dont read Arabic, but Im sure youll like these inscriptions on the inner and outer walls. Would you like to have a photo of these high minarets? You shouldnt miss that. They are the highest minarets in Egypt, at 82 meters tall. We are near to the Citadels walls. From here, you can see most of Historical Cairo, and on a very clear day, you may be able to see Pyramids too!
"Well, after you saw this great mosque and its position in the Citadel, I think you can understand why some people become confused. The Citadel is sometimes mistakenly called Mohammed Alis Citadel! But the novel thing, and what they dont know, is that there really is a citadel called Mohammed Alis Citadel, near to Salah El-Dins Citadel!! We hope to visit it one day.
The Mysteries of Qurna By Sonny Stengle
Traveling by Train in Egypt By Dr. Susan Wilson & Medhat A-Monem
The Charm of the Amulet By Anita Stratos
Egyptian Rock-Art Unveiled By Arnvid Aakre
Great Hair Days in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer
Touring With the Young, and Not-So-Young By Jimmy Dunn
A Tour in Egypt's Mohammed Ali's Mosque By Muhammad Hegab
Ancient Egyptian Agriculture By Catherine C. Harris
Why I Keep Going Back, and This is No 'Fish Story'! By Duncan McLean
Off the Beaten Path in the Sinai By Jimmy Dunn
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Hotel Reviews By Jimmy Dunn & Juergen Stryjak
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour EgyptBy Mary K Radnich
The Month in Review By John Applegate
Egyptian ExhibitionsBy Staff
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Nightlife Various Editors
Egypt On Screen By Carolyn Patricia Scott
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek
June 1st, 2001
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