NileGuide Expert Says:
Simultaneously imposing and austere, yet elegant
(Beneath the Citadel)
The Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa, built over the latter half of the 14th Century, is one of the largest and most imposing mosques in Cairo. It costs 25 LE to enter, and initially feels like walking in to a castle, through a huge entrance decorated in red, white and blue. You emerge from a dim vestibule into an immense open courtyard, with red, blue and cream marble floor slabs arranged into geometric patterns. There is a huge central fountain, complete with domed roof, and four giant, vaulted niches known as liwans, complete with hanging lamps on incredibly long chains. Each liwan was used to teach one of the four versions of Sunni Islamic law, and were linked with madrassas. The mihrab in the Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa is a work of art: as immense as the rest of the mosque, but decorated with fine gold calligraphy and pieces of blue, white, orange and yellow marble fitted together in a jigsaw-type pattern. The whole effect is set off by elegant grey marble columns. Behind the main mihrab of the Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa is a dimly lit room housing the mausoleum of Sultan Hassan: a surprisingly restrained marble tomb, set in a room with a huge domed ceiling of gilded woodwork, that looks a little like melting chocolate. The walls here are also comprised of coloured marble, arranged in to rectangular patterns.