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Notes on the Geography of Egypt: Historic Cairo 2: Photo 3

world pictures Egypt: Historic Cairo 2

The fame of this mosque and its university is such that it's a lot more crowded than any other mosque on this tour. Access for non-Muslims used to be tricky. Here's Creswell talking about the duplicity of one 19th Century French visitor: "In or about 1820 Pascal Coste made the first plan of the mosque. Muhammad 'Ali had asked him to submit plans for two mosques. Coste replied that before doing so he must make himself acquainted with the interiors of the principal mosques of Cairo, and was therefore given a firman for this purpose, but was told not to go to the Mosque of al-Azhar. However, being very anxious to complete his series of plans, he went one day to see the chief of this mosque, was extremely well received, and remarked that he had been told by the Pasha to report on the pavement of the various parts of the mosque which needed repair. By this means he was able, without being troubled by the students, to take a number of measurements, sufficient to make a very rough plan of the general layout of the mosque...." (Creswell, vol. 1, p. 41)

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