Al Azhar Mosque Overview

Immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural magnificence of the Al Azhar mosque in Cairo. The Al Azhar mosque is one of the oldest mosques in the world and was built in the 10th century. You can marvel at the towering minarets, sprawling courtyards, and sacred prayer halls. The Al Azhar University within the mosque is one of the best institutions in the world to obtain Islamic scholarship.

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Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo is one of the oldest mosques and highly revered mosques in the world. The mosque was built by Fatimid Caliph Sultan al-Muizz li Din Allah in 970 AD. Since then, the mosque has undergone several upgrades and renovations. Today, this 1000-year-old mosque stands as one of the most significant mosques in Cairo, Egypt. It serves as a spiritual place for worshippers, who gather here for daily prayers, Friday sermons, and religious festivals.

The mosque’s name “Al Azhar'' translates to “The Resplendent” in Arabic. It means the ones that symbolise enlightenment, knowledge, and spiritual guidance. The Al-Azhar University within the mosque complex is the second oldest university in the world to learn Sunni theology and Islamic Sharia law. Scholars from diverse backgrounds gather here to deepen their understanding of Islam.

In addition to its historical and religious significance, Al Azhar Mosque is also an architectural masterpiece. The majestic Bab al-Muzayinīn (Gate of Qaytbay) serves as an entrance to the famous Al Azhar mosque. Once you enter the mosque, you can find the massive central courtyard that has shaded arcades, mosaics, and fountains. The prayer hall here can accommodate 20,000 people at a time. The Mihrab and Stucco Carvings found at the mosque's dome stand as a testament to the Islamic artistry.

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• Gain insights into the 1000-year-old mosque's historical and architectural significance and observe the rituals that have been carried out here for centuries.
• Marvel at the mosque’s beautiful architecture and be amazed at the grand Ban al-Muzayin gate, stucco carvings in the semi-dome, the minarets, and the spacious prayer hall.
• Visit the prestigious Al Azhar University within the mosque complex and read the religious books available at the library.
• Engage with local scholars and get a deeper understanding of Islam's teachings and its influence on Egyptian society.
• Take a leisurely stroll through the courtyards and gardens of Al Azhar Mosque and admire the serene surroundings of the mosque.

How To Reach

Al Azhar Mosque is located in the heart of Cairo Egypt. It is easily reachable via public transport systems as well as via cars and taxis.

By Car:  The Al Azhar Mosque is located 3 km from the city centre and it will take 5 minutes via Kast Al Nile and Kobri Al Azhar.

By Bus: The nearest bus stop to Al Azhar mosque is the Al Mosky (Port Said St) bus. It is easily accessible via various bus routes across Cairo. You can reach the mosque by taking a quick 13-minute walk from the bus stop.

By Metro: The nearest metro station to the Al-Azhar Mosque is Ataba. From there, you can reach the mosque by walking for about 18 minutes along Kobri Al Azhar Street.

Best Time To Visit

The Al Azhar mosque in Cairo is a year-round destination that can be visited any time of the year.

Best Season: The ideal time to explore the mosque is during the Ramadan months and the winter months from November to March. The winter months have pleasant weather that is ideal for sightseeing. During the Ramadan season, the mosque gets a festive vibe and the souks(markets) around the mosque buzz with activities. 

Best Day: Fridays, if you want to participate in the Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer. For a more relaxed sightseeing experience, you can visit on other days of the week.

Best Time of Day: Early morning is ideal for visiting the mosque as the crowds are less and the sun is not too hot.

Other Essential Information

Tips to visit Al Azhar Mosque

1. Dress modestly with your knees and arms covered.

2. Do not wear tight-fitting and revealing dresses as well.

3. You have to remove your shoes before entering the mosque. There are shoe storage areas available at the entrance of the mosque.

4. Avoid running around and making noises while inside the mosque.

5. Book a guided tour to learn about the history and architecture of the mosque in detail.

6. Photography is allowed inside the mosque. 

7. Avoid visiting the mosque during prayer times and on Fridays to enjoy a leisurely sightseeing experience.

8. Keep at least one hour in hand to explore the mosque.

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Point of Interest for Al Azhar Mosque
The Central Courtyard

The Central Courtyard

The courtyard of the Al Azhar mosque serves as a communal space for gatherings and spiritual activities. It is expansive and measures 275 feet X 112 feet. It features intricate mosaics, lush gardens, fountains, and shaded arcades. It is surrounded by porticos that are supported by piers and 300 marble columns. The ambience here is calm and serene.

Main Prayer Hall

Main Prayer Hall

The prayer hall at Al Azhar mosque can accommodate  20,000 worshippers at a time. The hall’s design reflects the Fatimid and Mamluk architectural styles. It has an intricately patterned ceiling, delightful archways, and a mihrab. The mihrab is decorated with gold and semi-precious Lapis lazuli stone. The mihrab points towards the direction of Mecca.

Al Azhar University

Al Azhar University

This prestigious university lies within the complex of Al Azhar Mosque. It was founded by the Shi'i in the 10th century. Today, it stands as one of the oldest centres of Islamic learning in the world. The university has courses on law, theology, language, and even medicine and engineering.  At the university, you can visit the classrooms, walk through the historic halls and read books at the libraries.

Gate of Qaytbay

Gate of Qaytbay

Also known as Bab al-Qaytbay, the Gate of Qaytbay serves as a passage into the sacred Al Azhar mosque. It was built during the Ottoman era in the 15th century. It portrays the patronage of  Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaytbay who played a pivotal role in building the mosque. As you walk past the gate, be amazed at the sight of ornate embellishments adorning the sturdy stone walls of the gate.



The minarets of Al Azhar Mosque stand majestic even today and are iconic symbols of Cairo's skyline. These towering structures are adorned with intricate geometric patterns and calligraphy. It is an architectural marvel that serves as a platform for the call to prayer (adhan). You can ascend the winding staircases to the top of the minarets. From the terrace, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Cairo's historic neighbourhoods.

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