THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
5.THE MAMLUK PERIOD, 648 - 923H. (1250- 1517 A.D.) .
20- THE MOSQUE OF SULTAN AN- NASIR MUHAMMAD (AT THE CITADEL) 735H.(1335) . THIS MOSQUE is situated within the Citadel, on the left as one approaches the Mosque of Muhammad 'Ali Pasha al- Kabir. It was built by al- Malik an Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un in 718H. (1318) . Later on, wishing to enlarge it, he pulled it down and rebuilt it in 735H. (1335) . Its measurements then became 59m. long and 53m. wide, internally. It has an open sahn surrounded by four riwaqs, the qibla riwaq being four arcades deep while each of the other three riwaqs has two only. All the arches rest on marble columns of different sizes with varying capitals. There are arched openings in the spandrels, over the columns, to lighten the weight. The dome in front of the mihrab was built in 1935 to replace the old one which had fallen at some unknown date. It is supported over the square by large wooden stalactites at the corners. Below, runs a wooden frieze with raised inscriptions of large size, with the name of an- Nasir Muhammad and the date of foundation, 733H. This dome is supported on lofty arcades and ten huge columns of red granite. The ceiling is of timber and is composed of octagonal coffers surrounded by geometrical designs, enclosing raised up bosses; the whole scheme is of remarkable richness. The remains of the ceiling show how magnificent it must once have looked. The Department for the Preservation of Arab Monuments have lately renewed a great part of it. This type of ceiling, which first appeared on a smaller scale, in the Aiyubid period, spread in Egypt and Palestine during the reign of Qala'un and his successor an- Nasir Muhammad. The remains of the marble decoration of the mihrab prove that it was once lined with multi- coloured marble, decorated with fine ornament. Traces, still existing on the internal walls, show that there was once a beautiful marble dado more than five metres high. The faades of the mosque are quite plain except for a row of arched windows high up, which were once filled with stucco grilles. The mosque has two entrances, one in the middle of the north- west faade, the other in the middle of the north- east faade. It has two minarets, of which one is placed to the right of the north- west entrance, and the second at the east end of the north faade. Mosques with two symmetrical minarets are scarce. The unusual style of these minarets, as well as the faience decoration of their tops, are unlike anything built hitherto. By order of H. M. King Farouk I, the Department for the Preservation of Arab Monuments have completely restored this mosque. They have paved the floors, completed ceilings and lined the sanctuary and mihrab with coloured marble, in beautiful designs. They have also constructed a fine wooden minbar. The upper windows in the four faades of the mosque were also filled in with stucco grilles, pierced with geometrical designs. The mosque has thus regained its original appearance, and is once, more ready for public prayers. Plates 57- 58.