THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
5.THE MAMLUK PERIOD, 648 - 923H. (1250- 1517 A.D.) .
23- THE MOSQUE OF AQSUNQUR (IBRAHIM AGHA MUSTAHFIZAN) 747- 748H.(1346 - 1347) . THIS MOSQUE is on the east side of Bab al- Wazir Street. It was founded by the Amir Shama ad- Din Aqsunqur, one of the Amirs of an- Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un, and his son- in- law. He began its construction in 747H. (1347) . It consists of an open sahn surrounded by four riwaqs. The qibla riwaq (sanctuary) was covered with cross- vaults, the arches of which rested upon octagonal piers. In the middle of the qibla wall is a mihrab of coloured marble, with a dome above. Next to the mihrab is a beautiful marble minbar, the two sides of which are panelled with coloured marble; the balustrade, arches, and little dome are carved with various motifs, and the doorway is crowned with a cornice of stalactites in three tiers; the door is in two halves, decorated with geometrical designs, inlaid with ivory and engraved with deep carving. This minbar is the oldest of the few remaining marble minbars in the mosques of Cairo. In the centre of the sahn is a modest shelter which was erected over the fountain founded by the Amir Tughan in 815H. (1412) . The mausoleum in the north- western corner was constructed in 746H. (1345) , i.e. one year before the construction of the mosque. 'Ala' ad- Din Kujuk ibn an- Nasir Muhammad was buried under the dome. The main entrance of the mosque is in the faade overlooking Bab al- Wazir Street, in a recess, covered with an arch, supported on two beautiful fan- shaped brackets. To the left of the entrance is a salient formed by the mausoleum, in the middle of which is a circular window of fine pierced stucco, surrounded with mosaics of coloured marble, in beautiful designs. Below this window is a foundation slab bearing the name of 'Ala' ad- Din and the date of his death, 746H. At the southern end of the faade is the minaret, generally regarded as being one of the most beautiful in Cairo, on account of its simplicity and good proportions. It consists of three storeys, the first being cylindrical and ending with a gallery, supported on magnificent stalactites. The second storey is also cylindrical and ribbed; it ends with another gallery, also resting on beautiful stalactites, similar to those of the first one. The third storey is octagonal; it has an opening in each face, and is surmounted by a pavilion, with a cap and brass crescent. Between 1062H. (1652) and 1064H. (1654) , Ibrahim Agha Mustahfizan repaired this mosque, replacing the fallen cross- vaults with timber roofs. He also lined the back of the eastern iwan with tiles of faience, decorated with floral designs in beautiful blue, hence the name "Blue Mosque" given to it by foreigners. He also built a mausoleum for himself, between the minaret and the southern entrance of the mosque. He lined its walls with a coloured marble dado, with blue faience tiles above. Next to the mausoleum, in the northern riwaq, stands a building of later date, containing the tomb of the Amir Aqsunqur. Plates 72- 75.