The Al-Hakim Mosque in Cairo is a major Muslim religious site located in an area of the city known as Islamic Cairo, just a short distance to the south of Bab Al-Futuh, which is the name of the old city’s Northern Gate. It is the second-most religiously significant Fatimid mosque in Egypt, and the 4th most religiously significant complex in the country.
The mosque’s two minarets, along with the irregular rectangular courtyard, make this mosque very unique. Another very unusual feature of the Al-Hakim Mosque, is its monumental entrance which also includes a large stone porch. While these unique features do allow the mosque to stand out from other mosques in the area, they are not the only reason why so many people visit this site.
Al-Hakim Mosque is more than a thousand years old, and it has served several purposes since it was first built. While it was not doubt always a spectacular mosque, it is today more spectacular than ever, not least because of the extensive use of white marble.
Even though Al-Hakim Mosque may not make it onto everyone’s list of top Cairo tourist attractions, it is nonetheless a place well-worth visiting.
Al-Hakim Mosque – A Brief History
Construction of Al-Hakim Mosque began in 990 during the rule of Caliph Al-Aziz, but it was completed by Al-Hakim Bi Amrillah in 1012, and duly named after him. Al-Hakim Bi Amrillah inherited the throne from his father, Al-Aziz, in 996, just six years after building work started.
Unlike his father and his grandfather who ruled before him, Al-Hakim Bi Amrillah was brutal and was routinely accused of torture, and it was no secret that he had rivals assassinated. Ironically, he himself was later assassinated in 1021, just 9 years after the Al-Hakim Mosque was completed.
At the time when the mosque was built, it stood just outside the old city of Cairo, just behind the northern wall. However, in 1087, it was incorporated into the city, at which point its own northern wall, along with its two minarets, became a part of the city’s fortifications.
Sadly, a major earthquake hit Cairo in 1303 which partially destroyed the upper sections of the minarets, and also caused serious damage to other parts of the Al-Hakim Mosque. The following year, in 1304, Baybars, a great Mamluk leader, had the mosque repaired, and as a result, some of the mosque’s original features were inevitably lost. However, much of the original architecture remains, even to this day.
Much of the mosque’s architectural style and design is a combination of the styles and features which were employed during the construction of two other Fatimid mosques in Cairo, the Ibn Tulun Mosque and the Al-Azhar Mosque. It is perhaps worth noting that some of the architectural styles and features found at these three Fatimid mosques were later replicated by architects in Europe.
After the Fatimids
After the Fatimid era, Al-Hakim Mosques served a number purposes, including being a place where captured crusaders were held. It also served as a large stable for Saladin, while Napoleon later used it as a fortress. In fact, it was once also used as a school, but serving so many purposes over the years eventually resulted in the mosque being all but abandoned.
It was only in 1980 that the Al-Hakim Mosque caught the attention of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the head of a small Ismaili sect in India, known as Dawoodi Bohra. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin then took it upon himself to restore and beautify the wonderful Al-Hakim Mosque. Refurbishment of the mosque was extensive, and included abundant use of white marble with gold trim, which enhanced the appearance of the mosque dramatically.
Visiting Al-Hakim Mosque with Egypt Tours Plus
Al-Hakim Mosque is probably not the most exciting or most interesting mosque in Cairo, but a lot depends on what a person’s expectations are. The architectural design and style are wonderful, and it is certainly one of the better mosques to visit if you also want to enjoy some peace and tranquility.
While many people do of course visit the mosque to pray, there are also many who visit simply to enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet.
As is always the case when visiting mosques, visitors should dress conservatively, and they should refrain from visiting during prayer times.
Al-Hakim Mosque gets plenty of good reviews from those who visit, and we also believe it is a very nice attraction, particularly if you are interested mosques and/or Islamic architectural, especially that which represents the Fatimid era.
It is worth noting that the Al-Hakim Mosque does not feature in all of our Cairo Tour Packages or our more extensive Egypt Tour Packages. A visit to this mosque can however be incorporated into any of our existing tour packages on request. If you don’t see it mentioned in your preferred tour itinerary, but you would like to visit this site, just let us know, and we will be had to amend itinerary so that it fits your needs exactly.