El Hakim Mosque: One of Cairo’s Oldest Mosques - Arts & Culture Feature - Cairo 360

El Hakim Mosque: One of Cairo’s Oldest Mosques
El Hakim Mosque: One of Cairo’s Oldest Mosques
Published On: 29/01/2011
A visit to El Hakim Mosque is often overlooked in favour of Cairo’s countless other architecture gems. Though it lacks the intricate, elaborate detailing of other more famous mosques in Cairo, El Hakim Mosque is stunning in its simplicity. It is definitely worth seeing, especially if you’re already exploring everything else that El Muezz El Din Allah Street has to offer. Heading north on this pedestrian street, El Hakim Mosque is on the right, just before Bab El Fotouh.

Upon entering the mosque, you will immediately be struck by how bright and expansive it is. El Hakim Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Cairo and the floor’s shiny, off-white marble extends far in every direction. The maroon-coloured ablution fountain stands out in stark contrast to the rest of the mosque.

The minarets on either side of the façade are one of the mosque’s most distinctive features. They are Cairo’s earliest constructed minarets and have been restored many times since their original construction. The bases that protrude onto the street were added to strengthen the structure. The tops of the minarets were completely replaced after a massive earthquake in 1303. Now the tops of the minarets are encased and, for a little tip to the janitors, it is possible to climb up the northern minaret and observe the decoration up close.

This mosque experienced massive renovations in the early 1980s and, as a result, looks little like it originally did. Now, the archways are outfitted with dark blue curtains pleasing to the visitor’s eyes though the beautiful marble was not originally part of the mosque.

Despite being one of Cairo’s oldest mosques, El Hakim Mosque only seldom functioned as a place of worship. Throughout its history, the structure served as a prison for Crusader captives, a stable, a school, a warehouse, and occasionally a mosque.

The mosque’s construction began in 990AD under El Hakim’s father, El Aziz, and was completed in 1013AD. El Hakim succeeded his father at the ripe age of eleven, becoming the sixth Fatimid ruler. According to many historical narratives, he was known as a sadistic ruler infamous for his brutality towards women, merchants and religious minorities.

During one of his solo night journeys in the Muqattam Hills, El Hakim disappeared, presumably murdered, and his body was never recovered. Interestingly, after his death, one of his followers and an early leader of the Druze, El Darizy, proclaimed El Hakim to be divine and to this day, El Hakim remains a central figure in the Druze sect.

El Hakim Mosque is both calming and captivating, and an ideal place to visit to escape the crowds and hassle of nearby Khan El Khalili. Keep in mind that it is an active mosque; so be sure to cover up and dress modestly before you enter.


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Callie Wallace
Written by:
Callie Wallace
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