In Salah al-Din Square, Cairo, one cannot help but notice the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan, with its eye-catching structure, grandeur, distinctive motifs and 81-meter-high minaret.
The mosque’s rectangular and circular windows, its distinctive inscriptions and golden circular dome draw onlookers.
The mosque is considered to epitomize Mamluk architecture and was built by Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad between 1356 and 1363 during Egypt’s Mamluk era.
It covers an area of about 8,000 square meters, with an open courtyard surrounded by four iwans. The courtyard boasts a fountain and is covered with a dome built on eight columns. The courtyard also has four doors leading to four madrasas. Each madrasas is considered a small mosque.
Among the most prominent historical monuments in Cairo, the mosque is a prime destination for tourists and political figures alike. Former US President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the mosque in 2009.
French historian Edme-Francois Jomard labelled the mosque in his book, Description of Egypt, as “one of the most beautiful buildings in Cairo and Islamic architecture. Its high dome, high minarets, and its majestic decoration place it at the top of Arabic architecture.”
French orientalist Gaston Wiet described it as “a majestic and an unparalleled mosque in Egypt and the rest of the world.”