Saturday, December 22, 2012

Imposingly beautiful

The Cairo skyline is as dominated as it is shadowed by the Citadel.  From most parts of the city, it seems to be visible.  It locates you wherever you are and it is a constant reminder of the militaristic past of this country.

Together with a few people I met at the hostel, we made the journey to the top of the hill.  We flagged the first taxi we could find and told the driver we wanted to go to the Citadel.  The driver said they didn't know where that was.  I found this difficult to believe considering I could see it out the window of the taxi.  We pointed to the Citadel and the driver grunted and began driving in its general direction.

The closer we were to the Citadel, the more I was impressed by its enormity.  It wasn't just a single building, but rather a complex of buildings, centred by the imposing Mohammed Ali Mosque.
The Mohammed Ali Mosque was the first building we went into.  Its size and position drew us towards it (like a gravitational pull really).  It was one of the biggest mosques I had ever seen.
It wasn't particularly beautiful in terms of its decorations.  In fact, it felt relatively utilitarian compared to some of the mosques I had seen over the years.
Yet the sheer size of the place made it impressive.  It was the biggest mosque I had been to for several years.  I craned my neck to look at the detailing on the roof of the dome and for a moment I felt like I was back in the Blue Mosque in Turkey.
We left the mosque and went next door the less famous Al Nasir Muhammad Mosque.
At one point, this mosque had been used as a stable.

It had been constructed in the old Mamaluk style and I couldn't stop looking at the beautiful arches and pillars.
Standing in this mosque I found myself thinking of the old stables in Akko.

My love of this region clearly hadn't been eroded by my poor Egyptian experiences.

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