Sultan Hassan Madrassa And Mosque
The Sultan Hassan Madrassa is the Islamic world's most memorable monument. If the Pyramids of Giza are the most astounding features of Ancient Egypt, Sultan Hassan Madrassa is that of Islamic Egypt. The founder of this gigantic monument is Sultan Hassan, son of the great Mamluke Sultan Al-Nasser Mohamed Ibn Qalawoun. Sultan Hassan ruled twice, the first time in 1347 when he was 13 years old, only to be dethroned by the other Mamluke princes and generals. The second time was in 1356 A.D. Before he had time to end the power of the princes and high officials, they revolted against him and were attacked by the army chief with other generals. It said he escaped from the Citadel and hid in Cairo, but he was found and imprisoned, never to be seen again! Most probably, he was murdered 16 years after his ascension to the throne. He left behind ten sons and six daughters.
Sultan Hassan ordered Prince Mohamed Ibn Baylik Al-Muhssani to supervise the construction of this madrassa in 1361 A.D. The work continued for four years. The mosque was almost complete when Sultan Hassan disappeared; it is rumored he was killed. One of his functionaries, Bashir Al-Gamdar, finished it. The site of the madrassa was previously known as Souk Al-Khayl or the Horses Market. The madrassa was built of stone, but some internal parts and details were bricks faced with stone.
The Madrassa-Mosque resembles a cruciform (the shape of a cross), with an open courtyard surrounded by four iwans. An iwan is a vaulted hall with three high walls and an opening where the fourth wall should be. It contains four large Madrassas (religious schools) and is 7,906 square meters. Its many sides make it quite distinguishable. It has four facades, the two main ones being the most important.
One of the most striking features of the Sultan Hassan Madrassa Mosque is its intricate decoration. The mosque's walls and ceilings are covered in intricate geometric patterns, ornate carvings, and stunning calligraphy. The decoration is considered one of the most beautiful examples of Mamluk decorative art and is a must-see for anyone interested in Islamic art and architecture.
Visitors to the Sultan Hassan Madrassa and Mosque usually spend at least an hour exploring the monument, taking in the intricate decoration and admiring the stunning architecture. Guided tours are also available, which provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the history and significance of the monument.
The northeast facade is 145m long and 38m tall! Its sheer wall has four pairs of vertical windows, and at the top is a massive cornice of five layers of stalactites, projecting about 1.5m.
The Mosque's sahn (court) is almost square, about 34m long and 32m wide, with a large ablution fountain in the center. It's covered with a wooden dome, carried on eight marble columns, and it is decorated with a band of inscriptions of The Qur'an (the verse of Al-Kursi) around its capital. At each corner of the sahn is a door that leads to one of the four madrassas, the biggest one being the Hanafiyya Madrassa, which occupies an astonishing 898 square meters.
The qibla iwan is the biggest of the four iwans of the Mosque. On its wall are two windows in recesses, with an oculus above the Mihrab. The pointed-arched Mihrab is fine and covered with marble, and small double columns support the frame with complex joggled voussoirs.
On the rectangular outer frame is a band of Naskhi inscription. On either side of the Mihrab are windows with bronze grills. The marble Minbar is covered with colored panels of marble decorated in its upper part with floral motifs. It is truly an astonishing sight.
The Dekkat Al-Mouballegh, known as the bench of the repeater, is situated at the front of the qibla iwan and is constructed of marble, raised on eight pillars and three piers. Two doors open in the Quibla wall leading to a mausoleum dome behind the Mihrab, where the Sultan is rumored to be buried. The Mausoleum dome is 21 square meters, and its decoration resembles the qibla iwan.