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Cairo - Mosque of Amr

The Mosque of Amr
is the oldest of Egypt, first constructed in 641, following what general Amr Ibni l-As thought was a sign from God: At this spot a dove nested in his tent.

But the reason why the Mosque of Amr is not on the itinerary of most tourists coming to Cairo, is that nothing of the present structure is original. The oldest parts date back to 827, but most are fairly recent structures. But one detail gives away the mosque's age: It lies lower than the surrounding quarters. These have been built over and over again, always using the rubble from demolished houses as foundation.

The mosque is huge, its exterior quite different from many other mosques. It is simple, but from some angles quite beautiful. The front minaret is notably small for a mosque with room for perhaps 10,000 believers at the same time. From this you can read something about the history of minarets: the earliest mosques did not have minarets, and when they were introduced (about the time of construction for this one), they hardly rose above the roof the mosque proper.
Islamic Cairo
The back of the mosque. Note the extra minaret facing towards one of Cairo's few empty quarters, as well as the meeting point between the concrete reinforcement of the 1970's and the old facade.

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