Sultan Hassan Madrassa And Mosque
The Sultan Hassan Madrassa is the Islamic world’s most memorable monument. If the Pyramids of Giza are the most astounding features of Ancient Egypt, Sultan Hassan Madrassa is that of Islamic Egypt. The founder of this gigantic monument is the Sultan Hassan, son of the great Mamluke Sultan Al-Nasser Mohamed Ibn Qalawoun. Sultan Hassan ruled twice, the first time in 1347, when he was 13 years old, only to be dethroned by the other Mamluke princes and generals. The second time was in 1356A.D, and before he had time to put an end to the power of the princes and high officials, they revolted against him, attacked by the chief of the army with other generals. It said that he escaped from the Citadel and hid in Cairo, but he was found and imprisoned, never to be seen again! Most probably he was murdered 16 years after his ascension to the throne. He left behind 10 sons and 6 daughters.
The Sultan Hassan ordered that Prince Mohamed Ibn Baylik Al-Muhssani supervise the construction of this Madrassa in 1361A.D, and the work continued for 4 years. The Mosque was almost complete when Sultan Hassan disappeared, it is rumored he was killed. It was finished by one of his functionaries, Bashir Al-Gamdar. The site of the Madrassa was previously known as Souk Al-Khayl, or the Horses Market. The Madrassa was built of stones, but some internal parts and details were built of bricks, faced with stones.
The Madrassa-Mosque resembles a cruciform (the shape of a cross), with an open courtyard surrounded by 4 iwans. An iwan is a vaulted hall with three high walls and an opening where the fourth wall should be. It contains 4 Madrassas (religious schools) and is 7,906 square meters large. Its many sides make it quite distinguishable. It has 4 facades with the 2 main ones being most important.
The northeast facade is 145m long and 38m tall! Its sheer wall has 4 pairs of windows set vertically, and at the top of the wall is a massive cornice of 5 layers of stalactites, projecting about 1.5m.
The mosque’s sahn (court) is almost square, about 34m long and 32m wide, with a large ablution fountain in the center. It’s covered with a wooden dome, carried on 8 marble columns and around its capital it is decorated with a band of inscriptions of The Qur’an (the verse of Al-Kursi). At each corner of the sahn is a door that leads to one of the 4 madrassas; the biggest one being the Hanafiyya Madrassa, which occupies an astonishing 898 square meters.
The qibla iwan is the biggest of the 4 iwans of the Mosque. On its wall there 2 windows in recesses, with an oculus above the mihrab. The pointed-arched mihrab is fine and covered with marble, and there are small double columns supporting the frame with complex joggled voussoirs.
On the rectangular outer frame is a band of Naskhi inscription. On either side of the Mihrab are windows with bronze grills. The marble Minbar is covered with colored panels of marble decorated in its upper part by floral motifs. It is truly an astonishing sight.
The Dekkat Al-Mouballegh known as the bench of the repeater is situated at the front of the quibla iwan, and is constructed of marble, raised on 8 pillars and 3 piers. There are 2 doors opened in the Quibla wall leading to a mausoleum dome behind the mihrab, where the Sultan is rumored to be buried. The Mausoleum dome is 21 square meters and its decoration is similar to that of the qibla iwan.