Al-Rifa'i Mosque, Cairo

Al-Rifa'i Mosque, Cairo

Al-Rifa’i Mosque was built on the site of a small shrine dedicated to the medieval Islamic saint Al-Rifa’i. It was later called the Royal Mosque because part of the complex houses the mausoleum of members of the royal family and serves as a storehouse of many royal treasures.

The mosque was commissioned by Khushyar Hanim, the mother of the then Pasha, Khedive Isma'il Pasha. It was built between 1869 and 1912. The building has many architectural styles from the Mamluk period of Egyptian history. The dome and the minaret are particularly reflective of Bahri Mamluk Architecture that was popular in 19th and 20th century Egypt. It consists of a large prayer hall, shrines for the three Islamic saints, Al-Rifa’i, Ali Abi-Shubbak and Yahya al-Ansari and a mausoleum where members of the royal family are interred. It has a rectangular shape and covers an area of 6500 square meters.

The Al-Rifa’i Mosque is the final resting place of the Egyptian Royal family and other Royals. Kushyar Hanem who commissioned the mosque and her son, Ismail Pasha and the last reigning King of Egypt, King Faroukh are interred in the mausoleum. The last remains of Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran were first interred in the mausoleum until they were returned to Iran after World War II. The burial chamber is today the final resting place of his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The Al-Rifa’i Mosque is the living reminder of Egypt’s royal past.

Why You Should Visit:
Probably the most impressive and beautiful building of the neo-Mamluk style (the style imitating medieval Cairo architecture).
Along with the much older but equally large Madrassa of Sultan Hassan next to it, it forms one of the most extraordinary set-pieces of Islamic Cairo.

Tip:
At all times, throughout the building, make sure to look up at the richly decorated ceilings, or at the stone portals of the various entrances to the mosque.
Admission is charged. Wear socks and bring some small cash to tip the shoe collector.
Women: dress modest, cover your ankles, knees and arms. Wear headscarf.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Cairo. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Al-Rifa'i Mosque on Map

Sight Name: Al-Rifa'i Mosque
Sight Location: Cairo, Egypt (See walking tours in Cairo)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Cairo, Egypt

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