by Céline Crespy
Cairo is known as the city of 1000 minarets due to the presence of numerous mosques that date back to periods such as Abbasid, Fatimid, Ayyubid Mamluk and Ottoman. Since each one has its own architectural styles the city offers a wide variety of buildings from the beginning of Islam to contemporary mosques.
The Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque is the oldest one, not only in Egypt but also in Africa. It was erected in 642 AD after the Islamic army of Amr Ibn Al-Aas conquered Egypt. It incorporates elements of Roman and Greek architectures and underwent a series of works that aimed at enlarging it. It is located in Coptic Cairo that is to say in the more ancient part of the city. As for the most tourist famous mosques of the capital of Egypt, they are almost all situated in the part of the city that is better known as Islamic Cairo.
Among these do not miss the world famous Mosque of Muhammad Ali, at the top of the Citadel of Saladin from where you can enjoy a very nice panorama. It was built in the 19th century, in the Ottoman style by Muhammad Ali Pasha, who is considered the founder of modern Egypt.
In the same area you can also see the Mosque of Ibn Tulun that is an Abbassid building and the Mosque of Qaytbay, who was the last powerful Mamluk ruler in Egypt. Inside the Al-Rifai Mosque there are the tombs of King Faruq and the last Shah of Iran, who came to Egypt after fleeing the revolution in 1979. From there, taking the direction of the Khan Al-Khalili district allows to discover much more than a tourist market from which you can buy any kind of souvenirs. The place was the center of medieval Cairo and remains an important area for major Islamic events including Ramadan. Midan Al-Hussein (Al-Hussein Square) hosts the Al-Azhar Mosque and its madrasa (religious school). Not only is it known as the world’s oldest university but it is still one of the most influential mosques in the world. Unlike the Muhammad Ali Mosque that is a huge tourist attraction, Al-Azhar is very difficult to enter and visit. Only a few non Muslim people are authorized to come into the complex every day but it is very worth taking the challenge because the architecture is a mix of all the styles that have passed through Egypt.