The Restoration of Al-Zahir Baybars Mosque
Sunday، 17 September 2023 - 12:07 PM
The mosque is an architectural masterpiece. It is Egypt’s third-largest mosque after The Mosque of Ibn Tulun and The Mosque of Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah.
The Mosque was established by Al-Zahir Baybars on an area of around three feddans in 665 AH, and continued to perform its mission for 550 years, after which its condition worsened and deteriorated as it suffered from neglect during the French campaign. The French turned it into a castle and barracks for their soldiers. During the Ottomans and in the era of Muhammad Ali, the mosque turned into a soap factory, then a bakery to bake the soldiers' rations. By the end of the 19th century, the bakery was removed and the site was cleaned; the British army used it again as a bakery and then an altar.
The Mosque consists of an open central courtyard surrounded by riwaqs (arcades), the largest of these is the qibla riwaq, whose arches were carried on marble columns except for those overlooking the courtyard. The space in front of the mihrab was covered by a massive dome which, unfortunately, collapsed a long time ago. The mosque has three entrances, each surmounted by the foundation slab.
The mosque has been undergoing a major restoration that started in 2007. The process included the upgrading of services delivered to the visitors to improve their experience during their visit. Guide and information signs were set up in the mosque, as well as all means for people of determination to facilitate their visit to the mosque.
Works also included the implementation of the infrastructure facilities in the entire project, such as foundation reinforcement, insulation, construction works, as well as stabilizing the groundwater level, installing a fire extinguishing system, internal and external electricity network works, and installing internal lighting units. Specialized panoramic lighting was installed on the facades, entrances, and gates of the mosque on the inside and outside to display all the decorations and architectural details to become a beautiful lighting icon for the mosque inside Al-Zahir Square.
The internal and external stone facades of the mosque were cleaned using the latest mechanical methods, while preserving the stones that have written and plant motifs and working to strengthen them. The plaster windows at the top of the walls of the mosque were restored and completed, and the internal plaster bands containing Quranic verses on the Qibla wall were also restored.
The entrance doors to the mosque were also restored, in addition to renovating ablution places, and restoring the three stone memorial entrances.