Mosque of  

Mohammad Bek Abu Al-Dahab

This mosque is located opposite Al-Azhar Mosque.

It is one of the hanging mosques, as it is constructed higher than road level; the lower floor contains shops



This mosque is located opposite Al-Azhar Mosque. It is one of the hanging mosques, as it is constructed higher than road level; the lower floor contains shops.

The mosque has two facades; the main facade is to the north, facing onto Al Azhar Square. The main entrance is in the middle of the facade, with a double staircase leading up to it. The other facade is opposite Al-Azhar Mosque; at the end of that facade there is an entrance similar to the main one.

The minaret is located at the southwestern corner; it consists of two stories surmounted by five finials that resemble urns. This is considered to be unique among Turkish minarets.

The mosque is built on a square plan surrounded on the outside by three domed aisles. The domes are carried on top of arches, which rest on stone shoulders and marble pillars. The three aisles are connected to the interior by three doors.

Inside, to the left of the main entrance, there is a copper loge, which contains the tomb of the builder.

There is a large dome covering the square roof; it is supported on top of the walls of the mosque by four arches one in each corner of the square. The dome originally had gilded and painted ornamentation, of which only traces now remain.
On the lower part of the dome's drum there is a gilded frieze inscribed with Quranic verses and ending with the name of Mohammad Bek Abu Al-Dahab.

 At the center of the Qibla (direction of prayer) wall there is a mihrab (prayer niche) adorned with colored marble and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Beside the niche is a wooden minbar (pulpit). Opposite the prayer niche, on the northwestern wall, is the dikkah (bench of the informer), which is carried on two corbels and has a balustrade of turned wood.

As well as the mosque there is a hospice, a water trough for animals, and a public fountain. All were constructed at the same time.

The mosque was built in 1774 by Muhammad Bey Abu al-Dhahab, who, along with his master 'Ali Bey al-Kabir, attempted to restore the Mamluk dynasty in Egypt between 1771 and 1772. It boasts a prominent location between the Mamluk complex of al-Ghuri and the Fatimid Mosque of al-Azhar. The mosque, along with a two-storied takiyya on its south side, is all that remains of a major religious complex which also included a library, latrines, and fountains. Although this mosque was built after the ambitious Abu al-Dhahab had abandoned his master's intrigues and reverted to acknowledging the suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, it displays bold Mamluk features assimilated into an Ottoman scheme. It resembles the Ottoman Mosque of Sinan Pasha in Bulaq (1571), whose spatial configuration and dome size and profile it imitates. Among Mamluk features are the dome's zone of transition, employing a tripartite squinch reminiscent of that of al-Qubba al-Fadawiyya, attributed to Qaytbay (1479); the incorporation of the founder's tomb into the mosque, a Mamluk legacy appearing here for the first time in a Cairene Ottoman building; the dedication of the mosque like that of Sultan Hasan as a madrasa for the four rites of Islamic law with the exclusion of the Sufi services commonly accommodated in late Mamluk mosques; the typical facade paneling with muqarnas recesses containing windows; and, above all, the square minaret which is almost a replica of that at the nearby complex of al-Ghuri. Unlike the Mosque of Sinan Pasha, whose porticos look out onto gardens on the port of Bulaq, this mosque is situated in the center of the city and is built on top of shops generating income for the upkeep of the mosque as was usually the practice in commercial locations. Remarkable is the partial screening of the porticos facing the streets with a wall which, along with the ziyada created by setting back the mosque and porticoes from this facade or screen as well as the raising of the mosque above street level, serves as a buffer zone providing the necessary accoustical insulation and eliminating visual distractions for the worshipers inside the mosque and the latecomers in the porticos.

 The approach to the serene interior of the mosque from the crowded street has two stages. First, stairs rising directly from the sidewalk to the abstracted Mamluk trefoil portal, which is centered on the facade following Ottoman traditions in Istanbul, provide a vertical transition. Since this portal is shifted off the mosque's doorway by one portico bay, the horizontal transition from the top of the stairs to the interior of the mosque follows an L. This sequential experience recalls that of the bent entrances of elevated Mamluk mosques, where a dark passage extends between the inner gate of the entrance unit and the open courtyard surrounded by the four iwans; thus the horizontal "bent" sequence is amplified by a dramatic play of light. In this example, however, the ziyada, which is open to the sky, is cleverly exploited to fulfill the purpose of the dark passage. Coming from out of doors one turns left into the open ziyada and walks in the shadow of the surrounding walls, then turns right into the shaded area underneath the covered portico and walks through the mosque's door to find oneself underneath a huge dome. The dome lets in light through the windows around its drum whose brightness contrasts with the daylight filtered through the grilles on the windows in the walls.



 Variant Names :       Mosque of Muhammad-Bey Abu al-Dhahab,

                                    Mosque of Muhamad Bey Abu ad-Dhahab,

                                    Mosque of Muhamad Bey Abu al Dhahab,

Street Address :        facing Maydan al-Azhar
Location :                  

Style/Period :          Ottoman
Constructed  :           1773 – 1774 AD        1187 – 1188 AH
Century :                   18th

Building Type :        religious

Building Usage :      mosque         



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