Mohammad Bek Abu
This mosque is located opposite Al-Azhar
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
: 1773 –
1774 AD 1187 – 1188 AH
Building Type :
Building Usage :