Mosques of Cairo



Description:

Cairo is known, amongst other things, as “the city of 1000 minarets”. In fact, there are many more than 1000 mosques in Cairo, though nobody knows for sure exactly how many. The Mosques of Cairo trip has been designed with mosque lovers in mind, and will introduce you to some of the most important, most interesting, and most beautiful Cairo mosques. To visit these Cairo mosques is to travel through time, since the trip includes mosques from all periods of Islamic history in Cairo, from the 7th Century all the way through to modern times. It’s important for both men and women to be conservatively dressed when visiting the Cairo mosques, and women may be asked to cover their head. Since you must remove your shoes to enter, footwear that you can easily slip on and off is convenient. Finally, most mosques are free to enter, though it is expected that you will tip the attendant who watches your shoes.

user rating

Author: Nicholas Rowlands


Day 1 - Cairo


Start the day by getting a taxi to take you to the Citadel. It’s best to get here as early as possible, before the crowds. You don’t need the taxi to wait, because you are going to walk from the Citadel to the next mosques. Spend some time exploring the Citadel (entrance fee 40LE). The mosques here give a good introduction to the differing architectural styles you are going to encounter. The an-Nasir Mohammed Mosque is a simple and elegant Mamluk mosque; the Suleiman Pasha Mosque is very typical of Ottoman architecture, with beautiful Quranic calligraphy; and the Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali is as ornate and sumptuous as you would expect. Make sure you also check out the views over Cairo from the Citadel – sometimes you can even see the Pyramids! Depending what time it is when you are ready to leave, you may want to eat lunch at the Citadel. There is a pricey but adequate restaurant here. Otherwise, you’ll have to try to grab a snack from a street stall later on. After the Citadel, walk down to the complex housing two of the most impressive Cairo mosques: Sultan Hassan and al-Refa’i. There is a 25 LE entrance fee for each mosque, but they are well worth it. The Mosque and Mausoleum of Sultan Hassan is almost fortress-like, with a huge open courtyard and ornate mihrab (indicating the direction of Mecca). Al-Refa’i Mosque is simply stunning, adorned with various hues of marble and mother of pearl, and containing a number of splendid tombs. Allow at least an hour to do these two Cairo mosques justice. After this, walk along al-Salbiya Street to Ibn Tulun Mosque. This huge Cairo mosque is considered to be the oldest in Egypt that has survived in its original form. Make sure you check out the floral friezes that run around the arches, because local legend maintains they were originally a part of Noah’s Ark. Climb the unique, spiral minaret for another perspective of Cairo from on high. Next to Ibn Tulun Mosque is the zany Gayer-Anderson Museum, home to an eclectic collection of art and furnishings from all over the Near East. Although not a mosque, it’s still well worth the visit since you are here! This is a great place to get some photos of beautifully restored, 16th Century Arabic architecture. Spend your evening exploring the Downtown area of Cairo – perhaps grabbing a bite to eat in the relaxed Estoril restaurant/bar.


1

The Citadel

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 512 9619


2

Citadel: An-Nasir Mohammed Mosque

user rating

Location:

The Citadel
Salah Salem Highway
11211 Cairo, Egypt


4

Citadel: Mohammed Ali Mosque

user rating

Location:

Citadel Historic Complex
Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


5

Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa

expert pick

Location:

El-Qalaa Street
(Beneath the Citadel)
Cairo, Egypt


6

Al-Refa'i Mosque

user rating

expert pick

Location:

El-Qalaa Street
Beneath the Citadel
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


7

Ibn Tulun Mosque

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Off 'Abd al-Magid al-Labban (Al-Salbiyya) Street
Ibn Tulun Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


8

Gayer-Anderson Museum

user rating

expert pick

Location:

4 Maydan Ibn Tulun
Ibn Tulun Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 364 7822


9

Estoril

user rating

Location:

12 Talaat Harb Street
11111 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 25743102


Day 2 - Cairo


Start the day by heading to Old Cairo (also known as Coptic Cairo). You can either take a taxi there, or go via metro: get off at Mar Girgis station (4 stops south of Sadat). Here you can visit the oldest mosque in Egypt, the mosque of Amr Ibn al-Aas. The mosque was founded in 642 AD by the first Arab invaders, though not much of the original remains. It’s worth checking out the columns supporting the ceiling – it is said that no two are identical! After this, spend a few hours checking out the Coptic Christian area of Cairo: there are lots of interesting churches to wander around here, as well as a great museum. People are very friendly, and there are some quaint little craft shops dotted about. If you feel peckish, there are also a number of cheap but cheerful restaurants that cater to tourists. After this, grab a taxi to Midan Sayyida Zeinab, to visit the mosque there. It’s not really considered a tourist site, but is a very important Cairo mosque: Zeinab was the prophet’s granddaughter, and she is believed to be buried here. Many Egyptians revere her as a saint. If you haven’t eaten yet, there are lots of restaurants in the vicinity of the mosque. It might be worth asking a taxi to take you to Abou Shakra on Qasr al-Aini, to get some good quality, but cheap Egyptian fare. Spend the late afternoon and evening exploring the greenery, boutiques and cafes of Zamalek. Have a bite to eat in Abou el Sid, or perhaps La Bodega.


1

Amr Ibn el-Aas Mosque

Location:

Sidi Hasan al-Anwar Street
Fustat
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


2

The Religion Compound

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Mari Girgis Street
Old Cairo
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


3

Sayeda Zeinab Mosque

Location:

Al Sayeda Zeinab Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


4

Abou Shakra

user rating

Location:

69 Kasr El Einy Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 20 (0)2 2531 6111, +20 (0)2 3531 6222
fax: +20 (0)2 2531 6222
visit website


5

Zamalek

user rating

Location:

Northern tip of Gezira island
Cairo, Egypt


6

La Bodega

user rating

expert pick

Location:

157, 26th of July Street
Balmoral Hotel
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 27362188 - +20(0)2 27350543 - +20 (0)2 27356761 - +20 (0)2 27361115 - +20 (0)105232923


7

Abou el Sid

expert pick

Location:

157, 26th of July Street, just down from Diwan book store
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2735 9640 / +20 (0)10 100 8500
fax: +20 (0)2 3748 8109
visit website


Day 3 - Cairo


This is going to be a long day, but you will love it! Take a taxi in the morning to Khan al-Khalili. You don’t need to leave early, and the market doesn’t get going till at least mid morning. Spend a bit of time exploring this oriental treasure trove, and perhaps take a break in al-Fishawi coffee shop for a cup of mint tea and some people watching. Try to visit al-Hussein Mosque: this is one of the most beautiful Cairo mosques, though technically, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter. The doormen are often more than happy to help you out though, provided you are behaving respectfully. After this, head north up Muizz li-Din Allah street. There are a number of beautifully restored Cairo mosques and other Islamic monuments up this street. Make sure you don’t miss the pale coloured al-Aqmar Mosque, or the blindingly white, elegant Hakim Mosque. Something else well worth checking out is Beit al-Souhaymi (30 LE): an Ottoman era house that is a veritable maze of passages and rooms, decorated with striped marble and gorgeous mashrabia woodwork. Next to Hakim Mosque is one of the north gates, Bab al-Futuh. Opposite here is one of the finest little restaurants in Cairo, Zizo’s. Make sure you stop here to get some of the best spicy Alexandrian sausage sandwiches in the whole of Egypt! After this, take a taxi to al-Azhar Park: a former rubbish tip turned in to a tranquil green space in the centre of Cairo. Stroll the gardens, admire the water features, and sip coffee in one of the restaurants. Sunset from al-Azhar park is magical, as you are enveloped by the haunting sound of the Call to Prayer echoing from hundreds of minarets. Head back to Khan al-Khalili and have dinner in the Egyptian Pancake House. They specialise in a cheap but hearty dish not dissimilar to a crepe, called fateer. Once you are finished, it might be time to go to the Wikalet al-Ghouri for the free Sufi dancing show (every Wednesday and Saturday). It starts at 8.30 pm, but you should aim to arrive by 8.00 pm in order to get good seats. The show is incredible: the dancers spin and twirl in a blur of multi-coloured skirts, and then don’t so much as wobble when they finally stop, and walk off in a straight line!


1

Al Hussein Mosque

expert pick

Location:

El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


2

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Off Hussein Square
(Across from El Azhar Mosque)
11211 Cairo, Egypt


3

Aqmar Mosque (Al)

Location:

Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)
visit website


4

Hakim Mosque (Al)

Location:

Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)
visit website


5

Bab el-Futuh

Location:

El Muizz El Din Allah Street
Facing Al-Banhawi Galal Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


6

Beit Al Souhaymi

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Darb al-Asfar Street
Around Bab el Futuh
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509
visit website


7

Zizo's

expert pick

Location:

1 Midan Bab al Futuh
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2025926530


8

Al Azhar Park

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Salah Salem Street
Al Darassa
11562 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 510 3868 / +20 2 510 7378
fax: +20 2 512 1054
visit website


9

Egyptian pancake house

expert pick

Location:

Midan Hussein
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2024505871


10

Wikalet al-Ghouri

Location:

Muhammad 'Abduh Street
11211 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 2285 4363 (Tourist Information)


Day 4 - Cairo


Today it’s time to explore the Cairo mosques south of Khan al-Khalili. Take a taxi to the Khan again, and start off by visiting al-Azhar Mosque – arguably the most important mosque in the Sunni Islam world, and certainly one of the most beautiful. After this, head south down Muizz li-Din-Allah. Immediately on the right is the impressive Mosque-Madrassa of al-Ghouri: a riot of coloured marble and stained glass. If you give the caretaker a bit of baksheesh, he’ll open the minaret for you to climb. Opposite the mosque is the Mausoleum of al-Ghouri, which is well worth a visit if you have the time. Continue heading south down the street, through the local market and past sacks of raw cotton, until you arrive at the South Gate, Bab Zwayla. You can pay to climb on top of the gate and the old Cairo walls, and you can even climb nearly to the top of the minaret. The views of Islamic Cairo are stunning, particularly of the Citadel. Just before Bab Zwayla is al-Mu’ayyad Mosque, another beautiful Mamluk marble-fest, with a huge open courtyard. Just south of Bab Zwayla is the Street of the Tentmakers, a covered market specialising in traditional Arabic appliqué work. You can pick up some great deals here, since prices are much lower than in the Khan. After this, retrace your steps to Bab Zwayla, and head east along Darb al-Ahmar. You can follow this narrow, winding street through local markets all the way to the Citadel walls. Along the way are a number of Cairo mosques that are well worth visiting, including al-Maridani Mosque with it’s simple, shaded courtyard and ornate mashrabia screens, and the Aqsunqur Mosque – also known as the Blue Mosque, owing to its detailed blue ceramic-work. Once you arrive back at the Citadel walls, it’s easy to grab a taxi back to your hotel, or perhaps you’ll even want to revisit the splendour of al-Refa’i Mosque! Either way, you should rest easy this evening and say a leisurely goodbye to Cairo: you’ve been privileged to experience a selection of some of the most beautiful Islamic monuments in the whole of the world!


1

Al-Fishawi Coffee Shop

user rating

expert pick

Location:

El-Fishawi Alley
(Khan al-Khalili)
Cairo, Egypt


2

Al-Azhar Mosque

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Al-Azhar Street
Opposite El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 59 3893
fax: +20 (0)2 59 3893
visit website


3

Mosque-Madrassa of al Ghouri

user rating

Location:

In front of al Ghouri Mausoleum
Islamic Cairo
11728 Cairo, Egypt


4

Bab Zwayla

user rating

Location:

Sharia al-Muizz el-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


5

Al-Mu'ayyad Mosque

Location:

Al-Muizz el-Din Allah Street
Next to Bab Zwayla
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


6

Street of the Tentmakers

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Souq Al-Khiamiyya
Bab Zwayla
Cairo, Egypt


8

Aqsunqur Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Location:

Bab el-Wazir Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
visit website


9

Maridani Mosque (El)

Location:

Bab Al Wazir street
Near Shari El Ahmar, Darb al-Ahmar district
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509


© 2014 NileGuide.com   ·   Blog   ·   Facebook   ·   Contact Us   ·   About Us   ·   Privacy Policy   ·   Terms & Conditions