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Ibn Tulun Mosque

Architectural Marvel: Ibn Tulun Mosque in Egypt

The Mosque of Ibn Tulun is one of Egypt’s most prominent and oldest, and it was built by an Abbasid governor from Egypt who was sent to Baghdad. The courtyard of the “Friday mosque,” which has an open arch, is big enough to hold all of the men who come to pray on Friday, the holiest day of the week.

The mosque is made entirely of clay bricks and has a courtyard outside to keep strangers away. The mosque is the only one of its kind in Egypt because of this courtyard and its strange spiral minaret.

The boundary wall and walkway should have kept people at a respectful distance from the place of worship, but this was not always the case in the busy trading city of Cairo in the Middle Ages.

The outside walkway of Ibn Tulun was used as a bazaar for a long time. It wasn’t until the 19th century that shops and stables were moved out of the way.

So that the carpets where people kneel to pray don’t get dirty, they are given cloth slippers to wear over their shoes (for which you must offer a tip). The mosque is almost square, and the large courtyard in the middle is surrounded on all four sides by arches that provide shade.

Three have two bays, and the fifth bay, which faces Mecca, is used as a prayer room. People say that the patterns on the small windows that line the back walls of the aisles are different and don’t repeat.

From the outside passage, you can get to the minaret. From the small room at the top, you can see a great view of the mosque below, the minarets of the Sultan Hassan mosque, and the typical shape of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in the citadel.

The nearby Gayer Anderson Museum is just as fascinating as the Ibn Tulun mosque, if not more so. It was started in 1937 from two old homes, the Beit el-Kiridiliya from 1632 and the Beit Amna Bent Salim from 1540.

You can get there from the courtyard outside the mosque, which is to the left of the mosque. The museum is full of jasmine-scented courtyards, carpeted floors, fountains, winding hallways, and loggias with grates that cover their eyes.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun

Gayer Anderson Museum

The outside walls are another strange thing about the mosque. In Baghdad, the purpose of these walls was to separate the holy area of the mosque from the site in front.

In Egypt, this building was later filled with the homes of wealthy Egyptians, who built doors into the mosque walls so they could get to their homes quickly and privately.

All of these houses have been torn down, and their front doors have been locked, except for the two now used as the entrance to the Gayer Anderson Museum.

Robert Gayer Anderson was a British colonial officer who got permission from the Egyptian government to live in one of these houses in the 1930s.

Gayer Anderson was an expert on the Middle East and a greedy collector. He had filled his home with art, furniture, and carpets from around the world and was in charge of restoring them.

When she left Egypt in 1942, she gave the Egyptian government everything in the house. The result is a fully restored heritage site now considered one of the best examples of Cairene architecture from the 17th century.

“The Spy who loved me,” a new James Bond movie, was recently filmed in the house. Even though they aren’t very popular with tourists, these two places are some of the best in Cairo.

The beautifully restored mosque and museum are next to each other, giving an unbeatable look back at the old city. Both buildings are in Sayeda Zeynab, close to Sultan Hassan’s mosque and the Citadel of Saladin, making it easier to see all three in one day.

About the author

Egypt Planners Team is a highly experienced travel agency specializing in memorable trips to Egypt. The team comprises expert travel planners and tour guides with a deep knowledge of Egypt's history, culture, and top tourist destinations.