Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha - Table of Contents.........................Architecture Around the World

Exterior - Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha
The Alabaster Mosque
Cairo, Egypt

Built:
1830-1848
Renovations:
1931-1939 ... 1980s.
In 1931 serious structural deviancies were found in the dome and it had to be totally rebuilt. It took two years. Between 1937 and 1939 the decoration was renewed.
In the middle of the 1980s the whole Citadel complex was once again renovated.
Architect:
Yusuf Bushnak, Greek architrect from Istanbul (Constantinople)
Style:
Islamic
Note that there are no typically Islamic stalactites, geometric shapes or arabesques. Only the inscription bands continue any type of Islamic tradition.
Exterior materials:
Walls are limestone but the lower story and courtyard are tiled with alabaster ... Domes are lead-covered.

Before completion of the mosque, the alabastered panels from the upper walls were taken away and used for the palaces of Abbas.
Location: The Citadel -  the fortified structure designed to provide protection during a battle - is sometimes referred to as Mohamed Ali Citadel because it contains the Mosque of Mohamed Ali Pasha perched on the summit of the citadel.
Namesake:
Mosque commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha, ruler of Egypt, and founder of the country's last dynasty of Khedives and Kings, in memory of Tusun Pasha, Muhammad Ali's oldest son, who died in 1816.  Muhammad Ali was the first independent ruler of Egypt  and he chose to build his state mosque entirely in the architectural early style of royal Ottoman mosques of Istanbul.
Historic importance:
When Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali Pasha took control from the Mamluks in 1805 he tore down the remains of Mamluk palaces and altered many of the additions to the Citadel that reflected Cairo's previous leaders.

Placing the mosque where the Mamluks had once reigned was an obvious effort to erase the memory of the older rulers and establish the importance of the new leader. The mosque also replaced the mosque of al-Nasir as the official state mosque.

Muhammad Ali was more eager to build modern factories than religious foundations.
Distinction:
The most visible mosque in Cairo, with two minarets which are the highest in Egypt.
2009 photos

One of two minarets, unusual for Cairo, were the highest in Egypt, unrivaled by any of the Ottoman counterparts ... Citadel walls ...  The Citadel is sometimes referred to as Mohamed Ali Citadel because it contains the Mosque of Mohamed Ali Pasha perched on the summit of the citadel.


Central dome surrounded by four small and four semicircular domes, constructed in a square plan ... Note the scaffolding of the center dome which was being repaired when these photos were taken in 2009 ... Two Turkish style minarets.

"The use of this style, combined with the presence of two minarets and multiple half-domes surrounding the central dome - features reserved for mosques built on the authority of the Sultan - were a defiant declaration of de facto Egyptian independence." - Wikipedia (online August 2013)



The main material is limestone but the lower story and forecourt is tiled with alabaster ... Lead-covered domes



Open courtyard.
Fountain in repair.  It would have been used for rinsing before prayers.



Open courtyard, west wall.
Brass clock - which never worked - presented to Muhammad Ali by King Louis Philippe of France in 1845. The clock was reciprocated with the obelisk of Luxor now standing in Place de la Concorde in Paris.



Open courtyard.
Arcade ... Alabaster



Open courtyard.
Arcade



Open courtyard.
Alabaster  capital ... Cf., Alhambra



Open courtyard.
Finials.



Finials atop 47  cupolas/domes  ... Note windows (detail below)



Open courtyard.



Photos taken in March 2009
Photos and their arrangement 2009
Chuck LaChiusa
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