I was accompanying my friends from Jordan around Cairo when we stopped by an ancient mosque near Qala'at (Citadel) Salahuddin.The old mosque is one of the attraction in Egypt because of its beauty and its age.It is one of the oldest mosque in Cairo dating from the era of Abbasid Dynasty in Baghdad.
General view of the mosque
(Excerpt from the article of Ibrahim Abaza)
The Ibn Tulun Mosque was completed in 879 AD on Mount Yashkur in a settlement named al-Qata'i by the founder of Egypt's Tulunid Dynasty (868-905 AD), Ahmad ibn Tulun. Al-Qata'i was about two kilometers from the old community of Fustat. He was born in Baghdad, the son of a Turkish slave of Mongol origin owned by the Caliph, al-Ma'mun. He would later rise to became governor of Egypt after his stepfather, who died in 870, was awarded that position.
The mosque that he had built over a period of three years of mudbrick became the focal point of the Tulunid capital that lasted only 26 years. It was the third congregational mosque to be built in what is now greater Cairo, and at approximately 26,318 square meters in size, is the third largest mosque in the world. It is the oldest mosque in Egypt that has survived in a fairly original form. An ancient calligraphy in 9th century Kufic script provides:
"The Amir... has ordered the construction of this blessed and happy mosque, using the revenues from a pure and legitimate source that God has granted him...".
The mosque's original decorations, presenting in both stucco and wood the most valuable and best preserved examples of the Samarra style, are of considerable importance from the standpoint of Islamic art/history. The stucco decorations are found both inside and outside the mosque, and the soffits of the arches were decorated with bands of stucco ornamentation, although they have been extensively restored. However, a number of them have survived in their original state, revealing a geometric band with floral filling.
The minaret of Ibn Tulun Mosque, resembles the characteristic of Samarra's minaret
The minaret, with its only remaining original element being the square base, communicates with the mosque by way of a passage. Its second story is cylindrical which is in tern surmounted by later Mumluk restorations in stone. The original minaret was built of brick. This is Cairo's only minaret with a spiraling external staircase and the overall structure is unique in Egypt.
Artist's depiction of prayer hall of Ibn Tulun Mosque during its golden age
Aerial view of Ibn Tulun Mosque's courtyard