Saturday, December 29, 2012

Egypt Day 4: The Citadel and Mohammed Ali Mosque

I could bore you with an endless notes about the origins and the purpose of the Citadel and Mosque, but I won't. We were hot and sweaty when we arrived at the Citadel. The sun beat mercilessly down on our heads. Before entering the Mosque, we removed our shoes and then stepped into a beautiful open courtyard that was refreshingly cool. I don't know how or why it was so cool, but the temperature was decidedly different inside the walls of the mosque.
After admiring the beautiful tile work and architecture of the courtyard, we went inside the mosque. I know many of my readers have never stepped foot inside a mosque and may never have a chance to do so. So for their benefit, I'll describe the interior of the mosque. It was open and spacious, with no furniture. The floor was covered in Oriental carpets from the 1800's. The carpets were pretty dirty. I'm sure they get cleaned, but dirty seems to be a state in most mosque carpets I've seen over the past year. There was a beautiful chandelier in the center of the room. Doors opened allowing cross-breezes to keep the interior delightfully cool. It was a quiet room, without pictures of saints or religious paraphernalia. The intent of the room is to give many faithful Muslims room to pray. During prayer times, unbelievers are not allowed to enter. But otherwise, anyone is free to visit the mosque.

After enjoying the coolness of the mosque, we walked outside to look out over the city of Cairo. Cairo has an incredibly hazy skyline. Between the smog and the sand, it is hard to see much of the city. But still, we enjoyed looking over the city. As we stared at the landscape, the call for prayer began, with various voices bouncing and echoing off one another. This is a sound that I'll never forget from my time in the Middle East. 

1 comment:

  1. I went to a mosque once in Washington DC. I was 12 years old traveling with my Girl Scout Troop. We had a tour guide who enjoyed taking us to places one doesn't usually see in Washington. I remember it was wide open with beautiful carpets, we took our shoes off when we entered and sat on the floor. We didn't know much about the culture of Islam then but I remember the place was peaceful and welcoming.