Al Rifai Mosque
The Refai Mosque is located across from the Sultan Hassan Mosque. Both mosques have impressive structures and beautiful decorations. From a distance, they may appear to be one mosque split into two. The Al-Rifa’i Mosque ticket includes entry to the Sultan Hasan Madrasa Mosque, which is worth seeing as both structures are similar despite being built over 500 years ago in different places.
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History of Al Rifai Mosque
The Refai Mosque was built in phases between 1869 and 1912. Khushyar Hanem, the mother of Khedive Ismail, ordered its construction as a burial place for her family and herself. Engineer Hussein Pasha Fahmi was assigned to design the mosque to complement the Sultan Hassan Mosque. It was built over the mausoleum and chapel of Sheikh Ali Al-Refaai, the grandson of Sufi Refaaiya tariqa (sect) leader Sheikh Ahmed Al-Refaai. Sheikh Ali Al-Refaai was considered a saint during his lifetime. The Refaai Mosque is just as grand as the Sultan Hassan Mosque, and neither one overshadows the other.
Al Rifai Mosque’s Architecture and Design
The Al Rifai Mosque has a unique and impressive design, featuring a tall minaret that is often referred to as the oldest in Cairo. The minaret's spiral staircase is a remarkable example of medieval engineering and is believed to have been inspired by the Samarra minaret in Iraq. This reflects the multicultural influences of the time.
One of the most recognizable features of the mosque is its spacious courtyard, enclosed by graceful colonnades. The courtyard was an unconventional choice for the period, but it demonstrates the architectural innovation of the time. It provides a peaceful and contemplative space for both worshippers and visitors.
The mosque's interior boasts a prayer hall decorated with stunning stucco and geometric patterns. The mihrab, or prayer niche, is particularly breathtaking and showcases the skills of craftsmen from the 9th century. It's a place where visitors can appreciate the beauty and artistry that have been a fundamental part of Islamic architectural heritage.
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Visiting the Al Refai Mosque
Visit Al-Rifai Mosque with a combination ticket to Sultan Hassan Mosque, just across the street. It's located in Islamic Cairo and is often visited as part of a tour along with the Citadel, Alabaster Mosque, and Ibn Tulun Mosque. Day tours usually also include Coptic Cairo, with stops at the Hanging Church, Ben Ezra Synagogue, and Church of Saints Sergio and Bacchus.