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The Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque: the oldest mosque in Egypt

art & culture

A sanctuary of peace with a Mesopotamian influence.

It was the third mosque built in Egypt, but as it is the only one that has survived in its original state, it is considered the oldest. It is also the largest. Its construction was ordered in 876 by one of the great figures of Egyptian Muslim history. It was under the reign of Ahmad Ibn Tulun that Egypt's status changed from a provincial Abbasid Caliphate to that of an independent state.

The mosque experienced a number of mutations thereafter. It was transformed into workshops, then into an asylum for the infirm, before being restored in the early 20th century. You will be struck by the immensity of its courtyard, which is like a tranquil enclosure amidst the incessant noise from neighbouring souks. Placed on the north side of the court, its minaret has an external spiral staircase, which is typical of Mesopotamian architecture.

Ahmad Ibn Tulun stayed there. You will also notice its arcaded galleries and carved wooden ceilings, which include verses from the Koran. Two hundred years later, these ogive arches inspired those of the great Gothic churches.

Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun
Cairo

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