THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
5.THE MAMLUK PERIOD, 648 - 923H. (1250- 1517 A.D.) .
13- THE MOSQUE OF SULTAN AZ- ZAHIR BAYBARS 665- 67H. (1267- 69) . BAYBARS had been a Mamluk of the Amir 'Ala ad- Din Aydakin al- Bunduqdari. He was later transferred to the ownership of al- Malik as- Salih Negm ad- Din, who noticed his sagacity and wit, and set him free. He was promoted to several high government posts, until by treachery and perfidy, he ascended the throne of Egypt in 658H.(1260) , with the title of al- Malik az- Zahir. He was one of the greatest Sultans of the Bahrite Mamluk dynasty. He was successful in his wars against the Crusaders and the Mongols and he brought the rebellious Syrian Princes to submission. After securing several victories and great territorial gains. he died in 676H. (1277). His military campaigns did not deter him from showing interest in architecture, and he left numerous edifices, religious and civil, one of the most important being his great mosque at az- Zahir Square, begun in 665H. (1267) and completed in 667H. (1269). This mosque is one of the largest in Cairo for it measures 103m. x 106m. Nothing remains of it except the external walls and some of the sanctuary arches, as well as a certain amount of ornament either in stucco or engraved in the stone. In plan, it is similar to previous mosque. It has an open sahn, surrounded by four riwaqs, the largest being the sancturary. The arches around the sahn and those of the third arcade, in the east riwaq, were supported on rectangular piers; those on which the dome in front of the mihrab once stood are supported on square piers with columns at the corners, and the rest of the arches were supported on marble columns. Its dome was large and covred nine bays, unlike the domes of previous mosques which covered one bay only. The four faades are built of ashlar, with arched windows in the upper part of the walls, and stepped cresting on top of the parapet. This mosque is remarkable on account of the salients at its four corners and the three entrances projecting from the faades. The largest of these monumental entrances stands in the middle of the west faade, opposite the mihrab. This entrance, as well as the other two in the north and south faades, are decorated with recesses, with arched heads, or niches with stalactite hoods. Most of the elements of the decoration were taken from the faades of the Mosque of al- Aqmar and as- Salih Tala'i', and the entrance of the Salihiya Madrasa. The minaret once stood in the middle of the west faade, over the main entrance. This mosque, with the exception of a part of the sanctuary, where prayers are held, is now used as a public garden for children. Plate 37.