Creating new perspectives since 2009

Egypt re-opens historic mosque after long restoration

June 5, 2023 at 6:31 pm

A general view of the historical mosque of al-Zahir Baybars, that was built in 1268 by the Mamluk Sultan al-Zahir Baybars al-Bunduqdari in Cairo, Egypt. [Photo by Mahmoud Elkhwas/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

A 13th century mosque that fell into disrepair after being used over the years as a soap factory, a slaughterhouse and a fort re-opened in Cairo on Monday after undergoing a long restoration, Reuters reports.

The Mosque of Al-Zhahir Baybars, built under Mamluk rule in 1268, spans an area of three acres just north of central Cairo, making it Egypt’s third-largest mosque.

The mosque underwent mechanical and chemical restoration to bring it back to its original condition, said Tarek Mohamed El-Behairy, who supervised the restoration.

“Some parts were destroyed, some parts have been dismantled because they were structurally unsuitable to remain in the mosque,” he said.

READ: Huge sandstorm hits Egypt, killing 4 

“But we were very keen, even in the reconstruction process, to work according to the correct archaeological style.”

The restoration, which cost $7.68 million, was co-funded with Kazakhstan, and began in 2007.

For 225 years, the mosque was either closed, abandoned or had operated for non-religious purposes that contributed to its disrepair.

During Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt it was used as a military fort, then under Ottoman rule in the 19th century as a soap factory. Later, when the British invaded Egypt in 1882, it was used as a slaughterhouse.

Al-Zahir Baybars was a prominent figure in Egypt’s history, credited with cementing Mamluk rule in Egypt which spanned three centuries, up to 1517.

READ: Egypt calls for return of Rosetta Stone 200 years after it was deciphered