Alabaster Mosque Overview
The great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha or Alabaster Mosque stands proudly on the highest point inside the courtyard of the Citadel of Saladin. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is the most popular Islamic mosque among tourists .It is one of the first features to be seen when approaching the city from no matter which side.
The mosque, the largest such structure built during the first half of the 19th century, is more impressive at a distance than close up .It is an unparalleled contribution to the skyline of Cairo, visible high atop the Citadel grounds.
The mosque is the Tomb of Mohammad Ali and is also known as the Alabaster Mosque because of the extensive use of this fine material from Beni Suef. Its two slender 270 foot minarets are unusual for Cairo.
From the arcaded courtyard, visitors have a magnificent view across the city to the pyramids in Giza. Just off the courtyard is the vast prayer hall with an Ottoman style dome which is 170 feet above.
The parapet to the southwest offers a good view of the Sultan Hassan and Ibn Tulun Mosques and of Cairo itself. Perhaps because of its location, it is one of the most frequented Mosques by tourists.
Ottoman law prohibited anyone but the sultan from building a mosque with more than one minaret, but this mosque has two minarets. This was one of Muhammad 'Ali's first indications that he did not intend to remain submissive to Istanbul. The mosque is classically Turkish in style, reflecting its Ottoman origins.
The cascading domes, slender minarets, constellation of hanging globe lamps, richly decorated ceiling and spacious interior all recall the great mosques of Istanbul.
The interior also reflects some French rococo influences, and is finished with ornate lines of red, green, and gold. There is a gold-scalloped mihrab and two minbars (pulpits): one faced in alabaster and the other, unusually, in the Art Nouveau style. Muhammad Ali is buried beneath a white marble monument on the right of the entrance behind a bronze grill.
In the courtyard is an ornate clock given by Louis Philippe in exchange for the obelisk that stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It has never worked.
for tourists having more than one day in Cairo they may visit Saladin citadel and the Alabaster mosque withing an organized guided tour to Old Cairo along with other Coptic and Jewish sites. One Hour would be enough to get some in in depth information about the site from your tour guide, getting also some nice pics of Old Cairo from their as the citadel is situated on a high hill overlooking Old Cairo. Foreigners are allowed to get inside the mosque, modest clothing is required ad camera is allowed.
If you choose to spend your holiday time in Egypt in any of Sinai or Red Sea resorts, visiting the Alabaster mosque is still possible if you plan a one of two days in Cairo. It is on your way to or from Cairo international airport even if you would not have time to get inside you may ask your guide for a photo stop for few minutes to view the outer wall of the citadel and the whole mosque for outside as it stands high in the middle of the citadel court.
The Alabaster mosque is a great Cairo sightseeing that you should not miss !
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Frequently Asked Questions
Egypt is safe country to visit with notable low crime rate, tourist attractions are well secured and there is no common negative attitude towards foreigners, with some sensible precautions and preparations you will feel at home and as safe as you'll ever be.
There is no special dress code when visiting Egypt tourist sites, modest dress is recommended in less tourist sites and there is no special concern for women traveling alone.
Egyptian Arabic is the most commonly spoken language in Egypt, it is also the national language in the country but Egyptians speak and understand English as they study it in school. Fewer Egyptians can speak other languages like French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Egyptians working in tourism sector are accustomed to speak enough English and other languages to fulfill the needs of most travelers.
Egypt is very connected to the world, it has many direct flights with Africa, Asia, European Union and United States. Visit Cairo Airport website for a full list of Airlines that fly to Egypt.
Duty free allowances on arrival to Egypt are 1L alcohol, 1L perfume, and either 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200g tobacco. Duty free shops are available in Egypt airports and major tourist cities (Cairo, Luxor, Hurghada, El Gouna and Sharm El Sheikh).
Giza Pyramids and most monuments and Museums in Egypt open between 8 Am to 5 Pm. During Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar, be aware that these hours will change significantly.
Shops and stores in Egypt are usually opened from 10 Am to 10 Pm however in major cities it opens much later and some are open 24 hours.
Visitors are welcome in most mosques throughout the year. Modest dress is recommended, women should cover their hair, arms and legs. Both Women and men will remove their shoes before entering.
Taking pictures for people and streets is fine after people permission While Taking pictures for official type or army structures is not permitted. In most historical sites and museums in Egypt it is allowed to use camera, some of them may charge you for camera but at the Egyptian Museum and some similar historical sites it is prohibited and you will be asked to leave camera at reception before entering.
Egypt enjoys big hotel variety from world class luxury to simple hostel accommodations; Check in time in most hotels in Egypt is around midday, 12 or 1 PM.
There in no health concerns or vaccinations required to visit Egypt but we recommend to check with your own doctor, he knows you and your medical history best.
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (LE), it is about ,06 to USD. Money exchange is widely available, Credit cards are largely used in Egypt major cities and tourist spots.
We do not recommend the public buses in big cities. Taxi and limousine service are fine every where but price is negotiable. Trains go to all big cities in Egypt except Sinai and the Red Sea. Flights from / to tourist cities are always available.
Tipping in Egypt is an appreciated habitual attitude but is Not obligatory. Generally 5 to 10 EGP for small favors is fine for carrying luggage, parking a car or to guys who clean bathrooms. 10 % is fine in restaurant and spa. Tipping your tour guide and vehicle driver should be considered if you're provided with good to great service, feel free to give what you think your experience was worth.
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In Cairo, visit the Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Khan El Khalili Bazaar and relish a walking tour on foot in Old Cairo. In Luxor visit the impressive Luxor temple, Hatshepsut temple, Valley of the Kings and Karnak temple. Aswan tours go to Philae Temple, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Abu Simbel temples. Uncover the Western Desert oases like Siwa and Bahariya. Diving or snorkeling in the magic waters of Red Sea and Sinai beaches like Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Taba, Hurghada and Marsa Alam to explore the magic of the underwater world. Board a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan or vise versa, Lake Nasser Cruise from Aswan to Abu Simbel or vise versa and Cruise from Cairo to Aswan or vise versa.