Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo

Completed in 1848, the Ottoman-style Muhammad 'Ali Mosque or Alabaster Mosque is the most noticeable in all of Cairo; for more than 150 years it has dominated the skyline.


History of Muhammad Ali Mosque

When the Ottoman Muhammad 'Aliassumed power of Cairo in the 1800s he had all the Mamluk buildings of the Citadel razed and the complex entirely rebuilt.

The Citadel's appearance today is the vision of Muhammad 'Ali, particularly the mosque that bears his name. It was built between 1824 and 1848; the domes had to be rebuilt in the 1930s.

What to See at Muhammad Ali Mosque

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.

Also in the courtyard is a Turkish Baroque ablutions fountain, which The Rough Guide to Egypt describes as "resembling a giant Easter egg."

Quick Facts on Muhammad Ali Mosque

Site Information
Names:Muhammad Ali Mosque
Styles:Ottoman Empire
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:30.028733° N, 31.259837° E
Address:Cairo, Egypt
Lodging:View hotels near Muhammad Ali Mosque
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. The Rough Guide to Egypt 6 (November 2005), 144.
  2. Muhammad 'Ali Mosque at the Citadel – ArchNet Digital Library

More Information

© Rom
© Rom
© Daniel Villoldo
© dannebrog
© dannebrog
© Seyerce
Arabic calligraphy. © Aaron Wenner

Map of Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo

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