The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque was built Between 1652 and 1654, during Ottoman rule, the emir Ibrahim Agha al-Mustahfizan, who had been an over-all of the Jannisaries, began a significant renovation project for the Aqsunqur Mosque, restoring its roof and arcades, and adding columns to aid the mosque’s southern prayer hall. Significantly, he decorated the building with blue and green tiles, hence the mosque’s unofficial name whilst the “Blue Mosque”. The tiles, of imported from Constantinople and Damascus, were crafted in the Iznik style with floral motifs such as cypress trees and vases holding tulips.


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Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


Aqsunqur Mosque - blue mosque


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Ibrahim Agha built his mausoleum, that was also decorated with marble tiles, in the southern hall. It had been constructed using the normal Mamluk architectural style and included a mihrab (“prayer niche”) resembling the mausoleums of Mamluk emirs also situated in the mosque complex. Consistent with Ottoman tradition during the time, the Aqsunqur Mosque was officially renamed following its restorer whilst the “Ibrahim Agha Mosque.” The latter name wasn’t used frequently.

In 1908 the Aqsunqur Mosque was restored by the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe.The 1992 Cairo earthquake damaged the arches of the mosque’s porticoes, but they certainly were reinforced by the Egyptian government in the mid-1990s to avoid additional deterioration.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) along with the World Monuments Fund began a restoration project of the mosque in 2009. The Mosque opened to the general public in May 2015 following the completion of a six-year renovation project. The mosque was inaugurated in presence of Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty, the Aga Khan, the Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, and Cairo governor Galal Saeed.

Renovation work focused structural stability, conservation of the inside and roof repair. Today, the Aqsunqur Mosque is just a major destination for tourists visiting Egypt.

The overall layout of the mosque includes a large open courtyard (sahn) enclosed by four arcades (riwaqs). You can find three main entrances with the main portal opening to the western arcade. The latter includes a large pointed arch with corbels on leading edges of its roof. Facing the courtyard is the dikka (“tribune”) that the Qur’an is recited. The structure uses Western European-style capitals that Islamic architecture expert Doris Behrens-Abouseif believes were taken from Crusader-era structures in the Levant.

Kujuk’s mausoleum is situated at the portal’s northern side and has two facades facing the street. Of both alternative entrances, one opens to the southern arcade while one other opens involving the northern and western arcades. Unlike other tombs in Cairo, Kujuk’s mausoleum, which predates the mosque, isn’t aligned in accordance with the qibla (“orientation with Mecca”) and instead is aligned with the street. This structure could be the principal feature unique to other major mosques in Egypt.

Above the prayer hall sits a stone one-bay dome carried on four brick squinches.A big brick dome supported by brick squinches can also be situated atop the mausoleum of Kujuk. However, the latter has a pendentive below each squinch. Once the mosque was originally built this manner of using plain squinches was considered classical. Two stone domes are observed within the mausoleum of Tankizbugha and another stone dome is created above the tomb of Umm as-Sultan al-Sha’ban.

The mosque’s interior also posseses an irregular layout mostly as a result of Ibrahim Agha’s renovations which replaced all the original cross-vaulting of the arcades with columns supporting a set wooden ceiling. The sole area of the mosque that continues to employ Aqsunqur’s interior design is the qibla wall which uses cross-vaults that rest on octagonal-shaped piers. The manner of cross-vaults is just a reflection of Islamic Syrian architectural influence. Alongside the Mosque of Amir al-Maridani, the Aqsunqur Mosque has a hypostyle plan that is rare in Cairo and typically connected with Syrian style mosques.

The mihrab (“prayer niche” that indicates qibla) was built-in a geometric interlace style typically present in Mamluk architecture. The look is found in the mihrab’s spandrels.Other options that come with the mihrab are the hood’s relief painted carvings, fluctuating lintel panels, marble panels, carved marble registers and mosaic inlay. To the proper of the mihrab could be the marble minbar (“pulpit.”) Decorated with light gray, salmon, green and plum-colored stone inserts, it’s the oldest and among the handful remaining marble minbars found in a Cairo mosque. The handrail can also be built of marble and has a design of rolling leaf and grape clusters carved from the stone.


City: cairo
Region: El Darb El Ahmar
Place: The Blue Mosque – Aqsunqur Mosque blue mosque
Date: 16/9/2022
Location: see on map


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