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Antiquities Ministry quickly acting to restore Al Zahir Baybars Mosque

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr Moustafa Waziri has ordered quick action to renovate and assemble wooden parts and fillings of the minbar (platform) of Al Zahir Baybars Mosque in al Daher district of Cairo.

Waziri directed Waadallah Abul-Ela, the director of the projects sector, to immediately start the restoration project in line with scientific standards.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz, supervisor of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, said this is the first time the wooden fillings of the platform are assembled as part of the renovation process of the mosque.

A team affiliated with the Ministry of Antiquities will be tasked with the platform renovation, Abdel Aziz said, noting this was not included as part of the mosque restoration project at first.

The project had first started in July 2007 before work completely stopped in 2011, Abdel Aziz made it clear. Thanks to Antiquities Minister Dr Khaled el Anani, who acted to ease obstacles facing the project, work at the mosque resumed last year, he explained.

Besides the architectural renovation, the restoration process also includes reducing groundwater level and renewing all old parts of the qiblah iwan which faces Mecca, Abdel Aziz said. He added that damaged stones will also be replaced and the lighting system changed.

Al Zahir Baybars Mosque was built in Cairo by Mamluk Sultan al Zahir Baybars al Bunduqdari between 1266 and 1268.

Built in el Daher district of Cairo, the mosque covers an area of 10,000 square meters enclosed by a 10-meter wall. It has three monumental projecting entrances. The main one in the western wall leads to a passageway with a domed ceiling at the beginning and ends with a shallow dome. Inside the mosque is a square courtyard surrounded on four sides by aisles. 

Sultan Al Zahir Baybars was an influential leader and established a strong foundation for Mamluk rule in Egypt. He was a successful statesman and warrior, who united Syria and the Hijaz with Egypt, conquered important lands from the Crusaders, raided Little Armenia, and expanded Mamluk rule to Nubian territory.

 Ruling from 1260–1277, Baybars instituted many reform and infrastructure projects that created the groundwork for the Mamluk state. In addition to his madrassa (school), Baybars had two mosques built in his name, the mosque at Husayniyya, and another larger mosque built in rural, southern Cairo in 1273, of which nothing remains.

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