NileGuide Expert Says:
Ibn Tulun Mosque is the most interesting mosque in Cairo, with stunning architecture and a serene atmosphere.
Off 'Abd al-Magid al-Labban (Al-Salbiyya) Street
Ibn Tulun Street
tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
NileGuide Expert tip:
If you experience a sense of déjà-vu, it's because part of James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me was filmed at Ibn Tulun Mosque!
This beautiful mosque is considered to be the oldest in Cairo that has survived in its original form, and is the third largest in the world by area. Completed in 879 AD, Ibn Tulun Mosque was built by Ahmed ibn Tulun, founder of the Talunid dynasty that was ruling Egypt at the end of the 9th Century.
The mosque consists of a huge open courtyard, including fountain, and is surrounded on three sides by enclosed wings known as ziyadas. The art and architecture of Ibn Tulun Mosque has a distinct Iraqi flavour (Ahmed Ibn Tulun was born in Baghdad) – make sure you check out the crenulated tops of the walls, which look like the paper-chain dolls that children cut out.
Interestingly, a local legend claims the mosque was built on the hill where Noah's Ark landed after the flood, and that the floral frieze that runs around the arches was originally carved on to the ark. Finally, a trip to Ibn Tulun Mosque is not complete without climbing its minaret. With the staircase spiralling up the outside of the tower, the minaret is unique in Cairo, and offers fantastic views of the city.
Ibn Tulun Mosque is next to the Gayer-Anderson Museum
, and a short hop from the Citadel
and the other sites of Islamic Cairo
. The best way to visit is by taxi.