Cairo, Egypt’s lounging capital city, flourished along river Nile. On one side of the river, downtown Cairo is the modern development that is dominated by luxury hotels, and a skyline that includes the Cairo tower. On the other side, old Cairo and Islamic Cairo portrays a complete opposite picture of the city with intrinsic mosques and palaces crammed in tiny alleys and striking citadel complex. Furthermore, Cairo is a home to one of the best surviving ancient Seven Wonders of the World – the pyramids of Giza. Here are 15 architecture marvels of Cairo that every architect must visit.
1. The Great PyramidsofGiza | 2560 BC
Every architect has studied about The Pyramids in the history of architecture. Still sitting as bold as before, the great pyramids of Giza are the only intact marvel of original seven wonders of the ancient world. The pyramids are a good lesson to inspire every architect with their précised geometry and use of math in architecture.
2. Nilometer | 715
Nilometer is an object measuring the Nile’s water level, and is included in the list because it is big enough to enter and occupy its interior space. Its usage was concluded in the 19th century. A central column with measuring markings made up the device. A set of stairs leads all the way down in to the tank from where the water of the river flooded in. The current conical roof was a newer addition and is richly ornamented with a very strict geometry. The small opening in the roof brightly lit up the interior. Although small in comparison with other buildings, Nilometer is a must visit place in Cairo for architects due to its innovation and geometrical aesthetics.
3. Ibn Tulun Mosque | 879
Build entirely of well-fired red bricks layered with stucco, this mosque is designed in a traditional style. The courtyard is surrounded by a columned arcade, engraved with geometrical patterns, topped with a flat roof with the same width on three sides and a wider arcade in the direction of Qibla or Mecca. In the centre of this courtyard once stood a fountain/fauwara, that was later converted into Sabil (a water kiosk) with a dome by Mamluk Sultan Lajin by the end of 13th century.
4. Al-Hakim Mosque | 1020s
Built in 11th century, The Mosque, as it stands today is minimalist with its decoration. The marble floor and the light cream interior that washes out the whiteness of the space to give it a warm shade when illuminated by nature light, naturally becomes an ideal space for some contemplation and tranquillity. Oher than it’s illuminated interiors, the mosque is known for its western minaret.
5. Mosque – Madrassa of Sultan Hassan | 1363
Considered as a masterpiece of Mamluk architecture, this building narrates a beautiful story in its rich ornamentations and renovations. The most noteworthy feature of this mosque is its northern façade and its distinct minarets. The rich marble inlay work in the interior is a rewarding experience and an important reminder of local artisan expertise.
6. Sabil of Abd Al-Rahman Katkhuda| 1744
A rich blend of Mamluk and ottoman architecture, Sabil Qutab is a two-tiered square structure that houses a fountain within the first level topped by a space for a school on the upper level. Decorated with marble mosaics on the façade, this jaali structure perfectly functions delivering a comfortable atmosphere with no mechanical ventilation. It demarcates termination of al-Mu’izz Street and bifurcates it further into two
7. Muhammad Ali’s sabil | 1820
There was a time when there were more than 300 sabils that formed a rich part of ottoman architecture, but, today, most of them have fallen to despair. Muhammad Ali’s sabil is more of a piece of art that stands frozen in time today. The architecture is a palette of rich blend of Turkish motifs, overhanging wooden eaves and opulent engraved marble façades.
8. The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha or Alabaster Mosque| 1848
A mosque situated in Citadel of Cairo; Build in ottoman style of architecture, Mosque of Mohammad Ali Pasha is the first icon to greet you, when you enter the city from any direction. Planed in 41meter by 41 meters square, this mosque with the two levelled dome will make you crane your neck upwards as you pass, ant-like, under this colourful marvel.
9. Abdeen palace |1863
A part of Abdeen palace is the formal residence of Egypt’s president, and a portion of the palace is now a museum. Designed by a French architect, Abdeen palace brings you a strong reminder of European architecture on foreign land. The ornate interiors reflect Italian, oriental, Turkish and hints of French style. Not just limited to the main buildings, the garden of Abdeen palace houses a semi open structure with heavy decorations carved and frozen in time.
10. All Saints’ Cathedral | 1891
Built in concrete, All saint’s cathedral, is a modernist inspired church with a distinct dome shaped like a lotus that sits at the intersection of the cross-floor plan. The underside of this dome, from inside, is as picturesque as the exterior. The architecture surely reminds us of Cathedral of Brasilia, designed by Oscar Niemeyer.