About Al-Azhar Mosque
A central and highly important figure in Egyptian Islam, the Al-Azhar mosque was built in AD 970 (one of the earliest mosques built in Cairo) as an outstanding landmark of Fatimid city which had just been established. The mosque’s Sheikh is seen as the most influential leader in Egyptian Islamic community.
In AD 988, the mosque had its own Madrassa, which eventually developed into the world’s second oldest university. It used to be an educational mecca of some sorts, drawing a wide studentship from countries all around Europe and other parts of the Islamic empire.
Even at present, the Al-Azhar University is still a highly reputable center of learning for students of Sunni theology. The physical structure of the university itself shows visible proof of architectural evolution and various renovations and extensions spanning all the school’s more than 1000 years of existence.
One of the first buildings to be erected on the university campus, the central courtyard, has three minarets, each of them built in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. Sultan al-Ghouri, after whom a mosque and mausoleum were constructed close to the central courtyard, was also responsible for building the 3rd Minaret.
For visiting tourists, an attraction in the vicinity of the courtyard is the tomb chamber, cited in a passage close to the entrance, not far from an aesthetically decorated Mihrab- a place meant to show the direction of the holy city of Mecca.