Al Rifai mosque has gained the reputation of being the Royal mosque as the mosque was constructed by an order from Queen Khushyar Hanim, the mother of Khedive Isma’il Pasha in 1869 A.D, to replace the zawiya of Al-Rifa’I which was small mosque unworthy to carry the name with even more massive and extravagant mosque resembling the mosque of Sultan Hassan in magnitude and height to be fit act as a mausoleum for the royal family of Egypt, the descents of Mohamed Ali and a prayer house for the Sufi relics.
Al Rifai Mosque Facts
Al Rifai mosque is located in Midan Al-Qal’a in Cairo next to the glorious Cairo citadel and across the road from the Sultan Hassan mosque. The mosque was built on a 6,500 square m, and began construction in 1868, but was put on hold in 1880 until khedive Abbas Hilmi II resumed the work in 1905, he entrusted a Hungarian architect called Max Herz Bey, who was in charge of the Committee for the Conservation of Arab Monuments in Cairo, to complete the mosque.
Herz was aided by an Italian architect called Carlo Virgilio Silvagni and was advised by ‘Ali Pasha Mubarak who was the Minister of Public Works under Khedive Isma’il, and the mosque was completed in 1912.
Al Rifai Mosque Architecture
Al Rifai mosque has a combination of architectural styles based on the Mamluk period. The exterior of the Al Rifai mosque is decorated with two beautiful minarets on both sides of the main entrance.
The interior of Al Rifai mosque consists of two sections; the first section is the house of worship that contains the Quibla iwan which was designed based on a basilican style and has three Riwaqs circled by four marble piers supporting the pointed arches while the ceiling was made from golden colored wood decorations. The mihrab is cased with colored marble and golden decorations and is located at the center in the Qibla wall. The Minbar is made of wood and decorated with ebony and ivory and located on the right side of the mihrab.
The second section is the tombs of the royal family as the mosque holds three domes of Khedive Ismail, his mother, his wives, and his sons and daughters. The mosque contains the remains of Ismail, King Fouad, Farouk (the last King of Egypt), and the last Shah of Iran, who was married to one of Farouk’s sisters’ princess Fawzia and contains two mausoleums for Sheik Yehia Al-Ansari and Ali Abu-Shebak.