Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrasa in Cairo
The Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hasan lies in Maydan El-Qalaa. It was established by Sultan Hasan who assumed power at the age of 13 and ruled the country for 12 years. His character was very weak and his decisions were usually affected by the group of powerful Emirs including Emir Taz, Shaykhu, and Sarghatmish who were surrounding and manipulating him. The construction of the mosque completed after the murder of Sultan Hasan in 1361 who died in mysterious conditions and his body was not found. The Building was used as a shelter for some belligerent parties through out the history of Egypt and this led to the destruction of some parts of it like what happened between the dissident Emirs and Sultan Barquq in 1391. One of the Minarets of the mosque was destroyed in 1360 killing a huge number of people under it while the other one collapsed in 1659 but it was restored in 1671. The Madrasa of Sultan Hasan is beautifully designed on the Bahri Mamluk style of decoration and is regarded as a good model for architecture that was used in that period. The Façade of the mosque is very huge since its length reaches 76 and its height is about 36 meters. It is made of stone and is divided by some bays that end with a beautiful cornice along the top of the walls and this makes the façade looks larger than its real mass. The walls of the façade as well as the walls of the mausoleum were ornamented with fleur-de-lis cresting but it was erased from the façade by the passage of time. The portal of the Madrasa can be seen in a corner at the end of the façade and it was once sided by two handsome Minarets. It is supported with vertical panels and spiral-cut pilasters. In addition to that there is a medallion on one of the sides of the portal while the second was unfinished. The entrance of the Madrasa stands in Sharia El-Qalaa and it is magnificently decorated with stalactites that give the impression of entering a magical cave. From that entrance one goes through a corridor with inlaid panels and surmounted by a dome with stalactite ornate. The interior plan of the mosque consists of a courtyard with inlaid marble floor and four vaulted aisles. In the middle of the courtyard stands the current ablution that traces back to the Ottoman period and was established originally as a fountain. In the past the mosque was illuminated with oil lamps that were usually placed on chains suspended from the arches. The mosque was used as a Madrasa for studying Quran and prophetic instructions and a place for the students of the main four Islamic rites: the Hanafy Madrasa, the Shafey Madrasa, the Maliky Madrasa, and the Hanbaly Madrasa. Each of these Madrasas has its own place in the mosque where the students gather around their teacher or Shaykh. The mosque is ornamented with some arches of ablaq marble courses and mosaic vestiges and interlocking vossoirs. The eastern aisle is also charmingly ornamented with harmoniously colored marble and beautiful Kufic inscriptions for some Quran verses. Some of the worth seeing things in the mosque are the Minbar with its inlaid paintings and the Dikka or platform that was dedicated to the teachers or Shaykhs who were reciting Quran. The mausoleum of Sultan Hassan stands behind the wall of the Qibla One can enter overlooking Maydan El-Qalaa. Inside the tomb lies the bodies of two of Sultan Hassan's sons are buried in this mausoleum. One can enter it through the main door that appears on the right side of the Mihrab and is decorated with gold and silver inlaid and Thuluth inscriptions or from another door on the other side. The cenotaph is decorated with marble vestiges and carved Quran inscriptions. Of special interest in this mausoleum is the dome that is supported with niches of gilded decoration and the base of it has beautiful arabesque designs.