Egypt’s fourth pyramid: The Mosque of Sultan Hassan


The architect of Sultan Malik al-Nasir Hassan bin Mohammed bin Qalawun, one of the preeminent sultans of the Mamluk state in Egypt and the Levant, began work on the mosque’s structure in 1356 CE.

View from the Citadel

The mosque covers 7,906 square metres and takes on a polygonal shape.

Sultan Hassan mosque

Trimmed stones were mainly used in the construction of the mosque in addition to marble and plaster.

The entrance to the Mosque of Sultan Hassan

The main entrance to the school is adorned by stalactites, which is unmatched in the complexity of its engineering.

The entrance to the Mosque of Sultan Hassan

Above the gate of Masjid-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan

The entrance

The elegant entrance leads to the school of the mosque, showcasing its prowess at the time.

Entrance to the school

In terms of architectural design, the School of Sultan Hassan echoes Mamluk motifs of the time alongside its orthogonal development.

The school’s design reflects Mamluk motifs of the time (photo: hajij)

The School of Sultan Hassan contains rectangular dimensions ( 43.6 m × 32 m) alongside a wooden dome mounted on eight poles.

Wooden dome mounted on eight poles of  white marble

Ewan Qibla

Mihrab Budaiya

The platform of the mihrab is made of marble and accented with copper.


Some parts of the area containing the mihrab were allegedly robbed in the 19th century by antiquities traders.

The Ottoman governor Ibrahim Pasha refurbished the area in 1671 CE.

The Dome

The outside structure was originally set to include four minarets. However, one of the minarets built atop the main entrance fell off and killed some passersby in 1361 CE, forcing the sultan to retract the decision to have four minarets.

Minarets at Sultan Hassan


Given the magnitude of the school building, it was used by rebels against Mamluk rulers in order to protect themselves.

The school and mosque is unique in that it reflects Islamic architecture of the time, though with a twist. In and of itself, the spire is estimated to have cost 20,000 gold dinars.

There is no doubt that the enormous building for the school is striking as an architectural marvel, especially as it was able to withstand artillery bombardment from the Mamluk castle.