19 August 2022 07:57 PM

Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque

Sunday، 15 May 2016 - 12:00 AM

Al-Nasir Muhammad was a prolific builder who reigned as Sultan of Egypt during three different periods. He built his famous mosque in the Citadel during his third and longest reign (1309 through 1340 AD).

The Mosque of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad was the royal mosque of both the Citadel and Cairo itself.

There were several mosques within the Citadel, but that of Sultan al-Nasir was one of the most glamorous in Cairo until the original dome covered with green tile over the nine-bay maqsura in front of the mihrab, collapsed in the 16th C and the marble was carried off by the Ottoman conquores.

This hypostyle mosque is built as a regular free-standing rectangle around a courtyard with a large dome covering the prayer niche area. There are three entrances, including one on the northeastern side with a trilobed shallow recess and another on the northwestern wall with a stalactite portal. The third entrance is on the southern wall and is adorned with a pointed arch including a sun-rise motif in ablaq masonry. None of the entrances has a maksala or bench, making them the exception to the rule in Cairo.

The position of the two minarets and two asymmetrically located portals are dictated by the orientation and location of the mosque, which faces the northern enclosure of the Citadel on one side with its official and military buildings, and adjoins the residences of the sultan on the west and south.

Originally, the mosque had a number of large iron-grilled windows that are now walled up. It was also paneled with high marble dados which were later removed by Sultan Selim (the Grim) and shipped to Istanbul with other marbles from the palace. However, the qibla wall has been completely restored. 

Al-Nasir Muhammad’s mosque has another interesting feature, consisting of a small loggia located above the northwestern entrance, reached by the staircase that leads to the roof. It is perhaps a dikkat al-muballigh, like the bench on columns in the sanctuary of other mosques that is used for call to prayer, recitations and Quran readings.

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