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Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha

Also known as: The Alabaster Mosque
Built: 1830-1848
Designed by: Yusuf Bsuhnak
Type: Holy Place
Cairo, Egypt
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T his mosque is not only a showstopper on the world stage, it is also unique in Egypt. Rather than follow the pattern of so many before it, this is a mosque in the true Ottoman style modeled after the Yeni Mosque in Istanbul. This is not surprising, since Muhammad Ali Pasha, himself, was and Ottoman general born in Albania, however by 1831 his own empire was at war with the Turks in Syria. The building is a square constructed on an ordinal diagonal. The south and east corners feature turrets capped with domes coated in lead. The north and west corners feature classic minarets climbing into the sky. The overall height is about 170 feet. Inside, the use of two levels of domes gives a much greater impression of space than there actually is. The main dome is supported by four arches. Accompanying this are four more domes at the corners which increase the interior volume of the room. If you visit, look for a French clock. It was a gift from Louis Philippe in 1845. Ali reciprocated with the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The building gets its nickname "The Alabaster Mosque" from its alabaster façade. While this was used to cover the entire mosque, now only the bottom 40-feet are coated in this treasured material. The rest of it was stripped off and used for the palaces of Abbas I. The Alabaster Mosque's alabaster was replaced with wood painted to look like marble. This proved unsuitable in the Egyptian heat, and it has had to be restored twice -- in 1899 and again from 1931 to 1939.

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mohammed abdul mateen
Wednesday, April 5th, 2006 @ 6:25am
Rating: Five stars.
excellant massing


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