About Egyptian Mosques
A curious feature of this Mosque is the use of piers sustaining cross-vaults which could be
explained as the beginning of departure from the Bahri-Mamluk structural style, originally consisting of arcades formed of marble columns carrying arches supporting a flat wooden ceiling. Both square and octagonal pillars support the Mosque's arches giving it an unusual and unique aspect.
The name "Blue Mosque" derives from its East wall, the Qibla (direction of the Ka'ba, toward which believers turn to face for prayer) tiled from floor to ceiling in beautifully colored Majolica, the predominant shade being blue. This floral tile work was a later addition from one of the renovations carried out by Ibrahim Aga Mustahfazan. These tiles are in the style of ceramics manufacture in Iznik in Turkey, although the quality suggests they are provincial imitations possibly from Damascus.
The Mosque's Minaret that was restored at the
beginning of the 20th Century has features that are rare in Cairene Minarets. Originally composed of four stories, now only three remain; the first story, plain and circular rising from the square base, the second also circular and ribbed and the third is open, octagonal and carries a bulb. The original minaret of Aqsunqur and the rectangular minaret of al-Ghuri are the only documented four-story minarets in Cairo. It had an exceptional view of the street, this was subjected to many illustrations showing the four-story instead the regular three.
The Aqsunqur Mosque is very characteristic of the Mamluk architecture, a carefully composed monumental faade, it presents the street viewers with a view of a tall dome, elaborate carved surfaces and a slender minaret. Instead of the usual position at the portal, the minaret is strategically located at the southern corner of the faade, which projects into Bab al-Wazir Street. This provides it with a complete visual domination of the street and the surrounding area.
Lara Isklander is employed in the field of Islamic monument restoration in Cairo, and this article draws from her experience in that field.
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