The Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo is also fondly referred to as the Alabaster Mosque, and thanks to its outstanding beauty, it’s the most visited mosque in Egypt.
Sometimes called the City of Minarets, Cairo is home to a seemingly endless number of mosques. Some are relatively small and are of little interest to traveler, while others are absolutely magnificent. One such example is the Muhammad Ali Mosque which sits majestically on the summit of the Saladin Citadel.
Thanks to its outstanding splendor, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, which is also known as the Alabaster Mosque, is today one of the most frequently visited mosques in all of Egypt. In fact, it might even be the most visited mosque in the country. There are several reasons why the mosque has proved to be so popular, over and above the fact that it’s such an exquisite site. For example, the mosque also has impressively high minarets, the view one gets from the top of the minarets is second to none. Visitors can see practically the entire city, including the Giza Plateau.
The mosque is also the most viewable structure in Cairo apart from the pyramids.
Mosque of Muhammad Ali – A Brief History
The Mosque of Muhammad Ali was built over the course of many years. Most records indicate that construction of the mosque was started in 1830, and was probably completed by 1857. The mosque got its name from its tremendous reliance on the lovely alabaster stone quarried from Beni Suef. The minarets are considerably higher than average, measuring a staggering 270 feet in height. It was designed by the famous architect Yussuf Bushnaq, and was financially funded by Muhammad Ali Pasha, who was then the ruler of Egypt. Muhammad Ali Pasha was also the last of the line of kings in the country.
Distinctive Features Of The Alabaster Mosque
In addition to its unusually high minarets, the mosque’s distinctive domes are also a contrast to the needle-like minarets, and as any visitor can attest to, the interior of the mosque is an ideal match to the impressive exterior. The mosque is also home to a huge solid marble pulpit which interestingly enough is the largest in the country, and the light reflects from cut crystal, gilt covered surfaces. The site is also famed for its more than 136 stained glass windows in the domes.
The courtyard is also impressive because it is actually larger than the mosque itself, and its massive central fountain, along with its 47 arched doorways give the setting a regal and palatial look.
Visiting The Mosque
Most travelers who visit the Cairo Citadel (Saladin Citadel) will also tour the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. One of the great things about this particular site is the fact that there are several attractions. These include a military museum; Joseph’s Well, several other mosques, and even a very interesting carriage museum.
The site is clearly a combination of military and government history, but is also considered a religious site too. Because the site is also a Muslim religious site, all visitors must give proper attention to the way they dress and behavior while visiting the grounds. Tour guides are always available, and this may be the best way to get a comprehensive view of the site whether you have a lot of time or only a few short hours to dedicate to the area.
The Mosque of Muhammad Ali and the Cairo Citadel are conveniently located in Islamic Cairo nearby other popular Cairo attractions as well. The Citadel complex which is open daily from 08h00 to 17h00 is easily reached by taxi. Most hotels and resort also offer a shuttle service to the complex, and those that don’t will more often than not be happy to make the necessary arrangements for you.
Alternatively, you can simply book a package tour that includes a trip to the mosque. If would like to explore all that Egypt has to offer, including places like the Cairo Citadel and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, please be sure to visit our Egypt tour packages, all of which can be fully customized.