The Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Cairo, Egypt. It was constructed in the 9th century during the Tulunid dynasty by Ahmad ibn Tulun, the Turkic governor of Egypt. The mosque is located in the historic district of Sayyida Zeinab, on the outskirts of the old city.
Ahmad ibn Tulun ruled Egypt from 868 to 884 AD, and during his reign, he sought to create a new capital outside of Fustat (old Cairo). He commissioned the construction of the mosque as part of his ambitious new city, called Al-Qata’i.
The mosque was designed by a Syrian architect and is influenced by styles from Mesopotamia and Persia, with its distinctive spiral minaret being inspired by the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq. The mosque’s architectural elements showcase a blend of Abbasid and Fatimid influences, and it is considered a prime example of early Islamic architecture.
The construction of the mosque took around three years, and it was completed in 879 AD. It consists of a central rectangular courtyard surrounded by four arcades. The prayer hall, located at the qibla (the direction of Mecca), is supported by marble columns that were salvaged from ancient Egyptian temples.
The mosque was initially much larger than its current size, encompassing a sprawling complex with palaces, baths, markets, gardens, and other facilities. However, most of these structures have been lost over time.
Over the centuries, the mosque underwent several renovations and additions. One notable addition was the Sabil (public water fountain) and the Ottoman-style minbar (pulpit), which were added during the Mamluk period.
Today, the Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque remains an important religious site and a popular tourist attraction. It is known for its architectural beauty, historical significance, and its peaceful ambiance. The mosque has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and continues to be an active place of worship for the local Muslim community.