Mosque of Sultan Al Muayyad

The mosque of Sultan Al Muayyad is a mosque of mamluk style with 1 dome and 2 minarets right next to the Bab Zuwayla initially built in 1421. The mosque holds the honor of being one of the unique architectural buildings . The construction began in 1415 and the mosque was completed in 1421.  Sultan Al Muayyad before becoming a sultan was imprisoned at a jail right where the mosque is now and he suffered so badly from fleas and lice that he vowed that if he came into power he would transform this place and get rid of this prison. So when he came into power he was true to his word and commissioned the construction of the mosque.

The project of the mosque for the sultan was an ambitious one, costing the sultan 40,000 dinars between commencement and completion. According to al-Maqrizi, thirty builders and one hundred workers labored on the structure over seven years. The mosque required such a large quantity of marble that some of it was harvested from pre-existing structures. Besides marble, many other parts of the mosque were taken from other buildings, including the mosque’s columns and a beautiful bronze door and chandelier. The door and chandelier are particularly famous instances of this; both are said to have come from the mosque madrass of sultan hassan . Although the new mosque was not officially completed until 1422, an inaugural celebration was held in November 1419 to celebrate the new building.

The mosque was intended as a funerary complex and for use in Friday prayers, but its greatest purpose was that of a madrasa for Sufi students, according to al-Maqrizi’s story of its origins. The madrasa was dedicated to the study of the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools of Sharia law. According to the mosque’s original documents, the madrasa was to house fifty Hanafis, forty Shafi’is, fifteen Malikis, and ten Hanbalis, and their respective teachers and imams. There were also two classes of twenty students each for students of tafsir and Hadith, and two others of ten each for students of the Quran recitation and legal studies, according to the Hanafi jurist al-Tahawi.

The Mosque of Sultan al-Mu’ayyad was the last great hypostyle mosque built in Cairo. Originally it had four facades and entrances. Over time, the mosque fell into disrepair, and today only the eastern facade and the prayer hall are original to the mosque. Much of what can be seen today has been restored over the past two hundred years and is not necessarily how the mosque originally looked.

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In order to build the mosque, a portion of the Fatimid wall which used to surround Cairo had to be demolished; however, an old section of the wall was recently discovered within the mosque’s structure and can be seen today by visitors. Two towers from the original wall were saved from demolition and serve as the base of the mosque’s two remaining minarets .

The main portal, or muqarnas is set in a pistaq , or rectangular frame, that rises above the mosque’s facade. This was the last grand portal built in the Mamluk period; it is framed with to the mosque is decorated with finely carved marble bands and kufic calligraphic script. The marble was carved in a geometric pattern and decorated by polychromatic stones and colored stucco in high relief. The main door is a masterpiece of bronze work taken from the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan , while the dome is a typical example of Mamluk stone masonry with a cylindrical base and carved zig-zag pattern. The original facades were particularly tall for the period, due to the extra height added by the Fatimid towers at the base of the minarets. The facades were decorated with two rows of windows, and shops beneath each wall of the mosque were added in the original plans and remain today. The shops attached to and around the mosque play an important role in the mosque’s upkeep, as a percentage of their earnings go toward maintaining the building and its staff.

Throughout history mosque has gone through various reconstructions and it must be noted that the present structure of the mosque is not how it looked in it’s early construction . It’s early renovation dates back to 15th century. Later Ibrahim Pasha ordered it’s reconstruction in the 18th century. The last renovation was made in 2001 by the cultural organization of Egypt which saw everything being renovated. The mosque has prayers and sermons going on everyday and is open to tourists and visitors.