The Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque is the most historic and most beautiful mosque in Alexandria. It was built primarily in 1775 over the tomb of a Spanish scholar and saint, Abu El Abbas El Mursi (1219-86), and stands on Mosque Square overlooking the eastern harbor.
History of the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque
Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi (whose full name is much longer) was born to a wealthy family in the Andalusia region of Spain in 1219. In the wake of increasing Christian control of Spain, he and his family left for Tunisia in 1242. He later went on to Alexandria, a popular destination of many Muslim scholars at the time.
Abu al-Abbas lived in Alexandria for 43 years as a scholar and teacher until his death in 1286. He was buried in a small building near the eastern harbor in Alexandria.
In 1307, El Sheikh Zein El Din Ibn El Qattan, one of the richest traders of Alexandria, visited the tomb. He funded a mausoleum and dome for the tomb, along with a small mosque. The tomb of Abu al-Abbas became a place of pilgrimage for many Muslims from Egypt and Morocco who passed through Alexandria on their way to and from Mecca.
The mosque was periodically restored over the centuries by rulers who built themselves tombs next to the saint. Most of the present structure dates from 1775, when the Algerian Sheikh Abu el Hassan El Maghreby built a much larger mosque on the site. It was fully renovated in 1863, and an annual festival was established to celebrate the birth of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi.
The mosque was again beautified in 1943 under King Farouq I (r.1937-1952), who built the Midan el Masaged, or "Mosque Square." The square covers some 43,200 square meters and includes five other mosques centered around the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque. The mosque was renovated in the Arabian style that was popular when the saint came to Alexandria in the 13th century, at a total cost of about 140,000 LE.
What to See at the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque
The cream-colored Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque stands 23 m high and dressed in artificial stone, with a minaret on the southern side rising to 73 m. Situated near the shore of the eastern harbor, the mosque and its neighbors can be clearly seen from the sea. The minaret has an Ayoubids design, with four sections of different shapes. The mosque has an entrance on the north and one on the east, both of which overlook the square. The main part of the mosque is an octagon, with internal walls are dressed in artificial stone except for a 5.6 m-high mosaic.
The high ceiling is decorated with arabesque and contains a great octagonal skylight known as a Shokhsheikha. Each side of the skylight has three windows of colored glass in arabesque designs set into aluminum frames. This skylight is surrounded by four domes, placed over the four mausoleums within the complex.
The floors are paved in white marble. The doors, minbar and windows are made of joined and finely carved teak, citronia and walnut. The minbar (pulpit) is capped by a dome and has verses from the Qur'an written at the top in French gold. The mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca) stands at the base of the mosque's minaret and is flanked by the creed, ”There is no god except Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah” in Arabic script. Also on either side of the mihrab are two columns of Egyptian granite, with the name of Muhammad written in Kufic Arabic calligraphy at each end.
The mayda, an absolution area, along with the lavatories, are on the western side of the mosque with their own entrance overlooking the square. According to a royal order, the necessary alterations were made to reserve a special worship area for women with a private entrance.
Quick Facts on the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque
|Names:||Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque · Abu el-Abbas el-Mursi Mosque · Abul Abbas al Mursi Mosque · Abul Abbas al-Morsi Mosque · al Mursi Mosque|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||31.205644° N, 29.882158° E|
|Address:||Midan el Masaged (Mosque Square)|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque|
- Abu el-Abbas el-Mursi Mosque - TourEgypt
- Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque - ArchNet
- Reviews of the Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi - TripAdvisor
- Photos of the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, Alexandria
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