Discovery Visit: Sulayman Pasha El –Khadim Mosque – Sariyat El Gabal

Solely and invisibly positioned in a serene and tranquil area within the confines of Salah Al-Din citadel, and particularly at the very far eastern end of the northern enclosure, exists an
extraordinary Ottoman style mosque – the mosque of Sulayman Pasha El Khadim, remarkably known by Sariyat El Gabal. Years before the construction of the citadel as a fortress and a residence for the rulers and their garrisons in the 12th century, Prince El Mortadi Magd El Khalaafa Abu Mansur Kesta El Aamiri built the first marks of the current mosque in AD 1141, which was dedicated to Sidi Sarayyah, a companion of the prophet
whose shrine is incorporated within the mosque. In AD 1528 Sulayman Pasha ElKhadim –a court eunuch who became wali or governor for the janissary corps of the Ottoman army that were quartered in the northern enclosure of the citadel restored the mosque; thus considered the first Ottoman mosque to be erected in Egypt.

Mosque Sulayman Pasha El Khadim Sariyat ElGaba

A visit to the mosque is highly recommended and it is advisable to take a cab, as parking is a major issue. Upon arrival stroll up the ramp leading to the citadel from the street level, stop to purchase your ticket for around LE 50 for tourists. Pass through the security check point and enjoy a short stride surrounded by the citadel walls and towers until you reach the tourism police office on your right hand side and the stairs leading to the magnificent mosque of Muhammad Ali on your left; stop for a marvelous photo shooting that Proceed towards the mosque, ascend the flight of steps up and pass through a plain façade and a small portal carried on a half dome with stalactites.

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The simplicity observed on the outside does not give any implication of the extravagance to be witnessed in the interior, and principally the prayer hall, which takes the shape of an inverse T with a marble mihrab impressively located in the stem of the T. The hall is covered by a central cupola surrounded by three semi-cupolas similar to the neighboring Muhammad Ali mosque. The cupolas are covered with green ceramic and inscribed with various verses from the Kuran. Smaller medallions interrupting the inscription, incorporate the names of God, Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, which is a typical feature of Ottoman mosques. Domes in Ottoman mosques were used to cover the whole sanctuary of the mosque and not just the mausoleum or the part in front of the mihrab.

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Certainly, more time will be spent in this hall than the rest of the mosque just to admire the exquisite and intricate decoration of the ceiling with its surrounding cupolas. Among the other elements is the marble pulpit or the minbar decorated by geometric motifs based on stars and polygonal forms and has a pointed top just like the minaret, which is a true Ottoman characteristic. Attached to the upper part of the wall facing the prayer niche- mihrab and reached by an inner staircase is positioned, a nicely painted and decorated Dekket El Mobaligh or the so called The Podium of the orator. A door in the western wall leads to the courtyard, surrounded by an arcade covered by shallow domes once covered with green tiles. To the left of the entrance on the south wall of the sanctuary lies the minaret, a tall and slender shaft with a pointed top that used to be covered with green tiles typical of the traditional Ottoman style. On the western side of the courtyard incorporated in the architecture of the mosque and covered by a dome larger than those around the courtyard is the shrine of Sidi Sariyyah as well as tombs of Ottoman officials with cenotaphs covered with various types of turbans in marble. On the northern side of the courtyard a door leads to another courtyard incorporating a building, which is probably a Kuttab.

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5 thoughts on “Discovery Visit: Sulayman Pasha El –Khadim Mosque – Sariyat El Gabal

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