I try to visit Egypt every other year for a dive trip. It is time to go back. Last time I was there I visited Cairo town and took some photos for Air Etihad in-flight magazine. Cairo is such an eclectic mix of old and new- mixed with extreme heat and dust. The traffic is rough and it’s busy. There are some incredible Mosques though. One of my favourite is the Al Hazar- the big one on the hill ! Amongst other things, Cairo is known as the “City of 1000 Minarets.” Many of these pictures were taken at the peaceful and serene Ibn Tulun Mosque. This beautiful mosque is considered to be the oldest in Cairo that has survived in its original form, and is the third largest in the world by area. Completed in 879 AD, Ibn Tulun Mosque was built by Ahmed ibn Tulun, founder of the Talunid dynasty that was ruling Egypt at the end of the 9th Century.
The mosque consists of a huge open courtyard, including fountain, and is surrounded on three sides by enclosed wings known as ziyadas. The art and architecture of Ibn Tulun Mosque has a distinct Iraqi flavour (Ahmed Ibn Tulun was born in Baghdad) – check out the crenulated tops of the walls, which look like the paper-chain dolls that children cut out.
Interestingly, a local legend claims the mosque was built on the hill where Noah’s Ark landed after the flood, and that the floral frieze that runs around the arches was originally carved on to the ark. Finally, a trip to Ibn Tulun Mosque is not complete without climbing its minaret. With the staircase spiralling up the outside of the tower, the minaret is unique in Cairo, and offers fantastic views of the city.