Muhammad Ali Pasha, a valiant during the Ottoman Empire, rebelled from the central government and established his rule over the Egyptian and Sudanese territories. He decided to build a mosque which he dedicated to his eldest son, Tusun Pasha (Tusun died in 1816). The Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha or the Alabaster Mosque is located in the Cairo Citadel. It is one of the tourist attractions in Egypt's capital. It was built on the site of the old Mamluk building. The construction work began in 1830. The construction was completed in 1857 during the reign of Said Pasha. That year, the body of Muhammad Ali, who died in 1849, was transferred from his family tomb in Hav el Bash to the courtyard of the mosque.
The mosque looks like Jeni Mosque in Istanbul. The main architect was Yusuf Bosniak. Unfortunately, before construction was completed, Muhammad Ali Pasha’s grandson Abas took the alabaster tiles (intended for the upper walls of the mosque) for his palace. Instead of the alabaster tiles, wooden slabs were used in the mosque. In 1899, signs of cracking were noticed for the first time, and a few years later, it became a safety hazard, so the reconstruction was inevitable.
Still, it took about thirty years for it to be reconstructed. It was not until King Fuad that the restoration began in 1931. It lasted eight years and ended under King Faruk’s rule in 1939. Upon completion, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali shone with full splendor. A dome of 21 meters in diameter dominates on the mosque. It is surrounded by four smaller domes and four semi-domes. The height of the mosque is 52 meters and two minarets, the twins rise to a height of 82 meters.
The minarets are located on the west side of the mosque and have two terraces. Limestone was the main material used during construction. The paved courtyard, in front of the mosque, as well as the entire mosque, is made of alabaster stone. There are three entrances, and there are four pillars inside of the mosque that hold the whole structure, and all the domes are decorated with relief motifs.
The courtyard in front covers the surface of 2,500 square meters. Here visitors can see the brass watch that Muhammad Ali received from King Louis Philippe of France in 1845 in exchange for a Luxor obelisk that now stands in Place de la Concorde in Paris.
(!) You have to enter the mosque without shoes. Socks are okay and it is perfectly okay for you to enter the mosque even if you are not a Muslim.
Ticket price for Muhammad Ali Pasha Mosque in Cairo
The regular ticket price is 10$.
Working hours of Muhammad Ali Pasha Mosque in Cairo
The mosque is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm.