Published: Lehnert & Landrock, Cairo
360 Cities (360o view of interior)
The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan is a monumental mosque and madrassa located in the historic district of Cairo, Egypt. It was built between 1356 and 1363 during the Bahri Mamluk period, commissioned by Sultan an-Nasir Hasan. The mosque was considered remarkable for its massive size and innovative architectural components, and is still considered one of the most impressive historic monuments in Cairo today.
The mosque’s construction is considered all the more remarkable as it coincided with the devastation wrought by the Black Plague, which struck Cairo repeatedly from the mid-14th century onwards. Its construction began in 1356 CE (757 AH) and work proceeded for three years “without even a single day of idleness”. In fact, work appears to have continued even up to 1363, even after Sultan Hasan’s death, before eventually ceasing. An inscription on the mosque notes the name of amir Muhammad ibn Biylik al-Muhsini as the supervisor of the construction of the mosque. Unusually, his name was placed near Sultan Hasan’s in the inscription, which demonstrates how important the undertaking of the project must have been.
The Complex of Sultan Hasan was built between 1356 and 1363, and included a madrasa, congregational mosque, and mausoleum. The free-standing complex, which had a monumental domed mausoleum flanked by minarets, only one of which survives, is located in a prominent position below the Citadel, toward which the monumental portal is oriented. The muqarnas-hood portal occupies the entire length of the façade. The height of the exterior walls and the arrangement of the windows give the facades a strongly vertical emphasis.
Built between 1356 and 1363 by the Mamluk ruler Sultan Hassan, the scale of the mosque is so colossal that it nearly emptied the vast Mamluk Treasury. Historians believe that the builders of this mosque may have used stone from the pyramids at Giza. Early in construction, some design flaws in the colossal plans became apparent. There was going to be a minaret at each corner, but this was abandoned after the one directly above the entrance collapsed, killing 300 people. Another minaret toppled in 1659, then the weakened dome collapsed. The early history witnessed by the mosque was as unstable as its architecture: Hassan was assassinated in 1391, two years before completion, and the roof was used as an artillery platform during coups against sultans Barquq (1391) and Tumanbey (1517).