NileGuide Expert Says:
It is well worth popping in to Al Azhar Mosque. Don’t be intimidated by the religious and scholastic air, people are more than happy to accommodate tourists.
Opposite El-Hussein Square
tel: +20 (0)2 59 3893
fax: +20 (0)2 59 3893
NileGuide Expert tip:
Remember to remove your shoes, behave modestly, and it's best to avoid prayer times.
Al Azhar Mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques in Egypt, if not the whole world. It was established in 972 AD, the first Fatimid monument built in Cairo. Its name means "the most blooming", after one of the prophet Mohammed's daughters.
Al Azhar Mosque has been renovated and extended over the years, and it reflects a number of architectural styles. The large main courtyard is a particular highlight: 275 by 112 feet, made of glistening white marble, and home to hundreds of ancient columns. The five minarets are particularly elegant, and can be seen from much of Cairo. It is possible to climb some of the towers, though they are often locked and you should remember to give the porter a little something for his trouble.
Al Azhar Mosque is also arguably the most significant in the whole of the Sunni Muslim world: it is home to the second oldest University in the world, established in 975 AD, which specialises in all forms of Islamic studies. The scholars of the university are very well respected, and are often called upon to issue fatwas, or religious rulings.
Al Azhar Mosque is situated in the heart of Islamic Cairo
, opposite Midan al-Hussein
and Khan al-Khalili
bazaar. It is best visited by taxi, though you could also walk up from Ataba Metro station.