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NileGuide Expert Says:
The al-Refa’i Mosque is certainly not simple or understated. In fact, it is possibly the most resplendent of all Cairo mosques, and for this reason if no other is a must-see!
Beneath the Citadel
tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
Al-Refa'i Mosque, opposite Sultan Hassan Mosque, is one of the most spectacular Cairo mosques, and well worth the 25 LE entrance fee. It was completed in the early 20th Century for the mother of Khedive Ismail, and is built in a mock Mamluk style. Al-Refa'i Mosque is absolutely stunning inside: not only is it incredibly ornate, it is in very good condition. The floors and walls are covered in bright marble in differing colours and patterns, and ample gold leaf garnishes everything. The high ceilings are dark wood embossed with mother of pearl, looking similar in design to the boxes sold in Khan al-Khalili! Beautiful wooden Arabesque doors, incense, stained glass, chandeliers – you name it, and it graces the al-Refa'i Mosque. The mosque also houses ornate marble tombs of various luminaries: including King Fouad and his mother, King Farouk, Khedive Ismail and his harem, and even the last shah of Iran. The tomb of Sheikh Ali al-Rifa'i, founder of the Rifa'i sect of Sufis, is also housed in the al-Refa'i Mosque: a grey marble tomb housed behind an ornate mashrabia screen, the tomb is decked with plastic flowers and softly lit by other-worldly green lighting. The overall effect manages to be both solemn and slightly tacky at the same time. Because al-Refa'i Mosque is so large, and with so much to explore and marvel at, you should try to allow an hour or so to visit it.