Mosque of Al Refaie in Cairo

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Mosque of Al Refaie, its walls rising to the same height as those of Sultan Hasan’s madrasah.

Al Refaie Mosque – Mosque of Al Refaie – Egyptian Mosues

In 19C this site was occupied by the Zawiyat al Refaie, which contained the tombs of Sh. Ali Abu Shibbak al Refaie, a local sufi, and Sh. Abd Allah al-Ansari. It was purchased together with the surrounding buildings by Princess Dowager Khushyar, mother of the khedive Isma’il, in 1869. She wished to build a mosque incorporating tombs for the two shaykhs and herself and her descendants. The mosque was designed by Husayn Fakhri, minister of Awqaf, and supervised by the chief eunuch, Khalil Agha. Princess Khushyar died in 1885 and was buried in the incomplete building, as was lsmail in 1894. In 1905 the khedive Abbas II ordered that the mosque be completed under the supervision of Herz Pasha, chief architect to the CPAM, and the Italian architect Silvagni. It was finished in 1911.

Although immense, there is little innovation in the design of the mosque, all the decoration being derived from Mamlùk sources. The principal (NW) façade, admittedly impressive, faces a garden and contains the main entrance (formerly reserved for the royal family). It is regular, with the entrance reached by a high flight of steps.The SW facade contains two entrances flanked by semi-round bastions from which rise the two neo-Mamlûk minarets. It is a covered mosque, a wooden roof with central lantern being raised on four massive piers with pointed arches. The workmanship is of high quality if a little gaudy, and one of the most interesting aspects is the chance to see marbles in pristine condition, giving some indication of the original appearance of the weathered stone in the older mosques. Great marble tabuts surrounded by mashrabiyyah screens cover the tombs of Sh. Ali and Sh. Abd Allah.

Behind the tomb of Sayyid Ali lies another tomb chamber, which contains the tombs of King Ahmed Fuád (1868—1936); his mother Firyal (died 1912), a wife of Khedive Isma’il; King Fãrúq (1920—65), son of Ah. Fouad , his body transferred from the Hawsh al-Basha in 1975, and Fawqr’yyah (1897—1974), daughter of Ah. Fouad and Princess Shawikar. Also buried here is Muhamed Reza Pahlavi (1919—80), the last shah of Iran; he died in Cairo.

Leave by the rear entrance. A vast arcade with four pavilions contains further tombs of the former royal family. The first chamber to the left contains the Tomb of Princess Khushyár (died 1885), wife of Ibrâhîm Pasha and mother of the Khedive lsmail; she was responsible for the foundation of this great mosque. Beside her tomb is the Tomb of Khedive lsmail (1830—95). He reigned in from 1863 to 1879 when he was deposed and exiled to Italy and then Turkey where he died. The second pavilion contains the tombs of Isma’il’s wives: Jasham Áffat (died 1907), the third wife; Jananyar (died 1912), the second wife; and Shuhrat (died 1895), his principal wife. Inside the third pavilion is the Tomb of Sultan Husayn Kãmil (1853—1917), son of Khedive Ismail , who succeeded upon the deposition of his nephew Abbas II in 1914. Beyond is the Tomb of Princess Malak (1869—1950), his second wife.

In the pavilion to the right of the exit are the tombs of the children of the Khedive lsmail . Left of the door lies САП Jamil (died 1893), and to the right of the door lies Ibrahim Hümï (1860—1927), lsmail’s favorite son and the one he really wished to succeed him. In the center is the Tomb of Tawhi’dah (1850—89) and close to the wall is the Tomb of Zaynab (1856—76), full sister of Ibrähîm Hilmi.

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