Most journeys to Egypt begin and end in Cairo, but a mere 3-hour drive from the capital will bring you to Egypt’s second largest city—Alexandria. Here’s how to visit this culturally rich seaside metropolis, at once both ancient and modern that could not feel more different from the nation’s capital.
Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa
El-Darb El-Ahmar, Cairo
A masterpiece of early Mamluk architecture, the Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa was built at huge expense by its namesake sultan, who was assassinated before its completion. After passing through a richly decorated portal, visitors enter a courtyard with an ablutions foundation and four lantern-hung liwans—each adjoining a madrassa. A bronze door from the courtyard leads to the sultan’s tomb.
The Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa can be visited independently or on tours of Cairo’s Islamic quarter. These typically private tours, which include a guide to detail the mosque’s history and design, also visit nearby sites such as the Citadel of Saladin and Al-Rifai Mosque. Other options include multi-day tours that span all Cairo’s highlights, including Islamic Cairo, the pyramids, and the Egyptian Museum—an ideal choice for first-time visitors.
Private Tour: Alabaster Mosque, Sultan Hassan, Khan el-Khalili
$100.92 per adult
Punctual pick-up. Very impressive...
Punctual pick-up. Very impressive buildings. Our guide explained a lot about how to live and behave as a Muslim which was quite interesting. The bazaar these days has a lot of imported products from China but still worth spending 20minutes there. Optional visits to papyrus and perfume shop with presentations which we liked. Don't forget to bargain hard.
Alexandra_v, Jan 2017
Things to Know Before You Go
The Sultan Hassan Mosque will appeal to history and religious buffs.
Dress respectfully to go inside, with shoulders and knees fully covered.
Be prepared to remove your shoes and leave them at the entrance.
Women should wear a headscarf and a long skirt or long pants.
Restrooms are located behind the mosque.
How to Get There
The Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa is in the El-Darb El-Ahmar district southeast of central Cairo, just below the Citadel of Saladin. Parking is difficult, so the easiest options are cabs or guided tours. If you’re going by cab and want to visit both the citadel and Sultan Hassan Mosque, explore the citadel first, as it’s then a downhill walk to the mosque.
When to Get There
The Sultan Hassan Mosque is open daily from 9am to 5pm, but generally closed during daily prayers within these hours—at around midday and 3pm. Try to avoid Fridays, the Islamic holy day, when the mosque is packed with worshippers.
Saladin’s Citadel and Al-Rifai Mosque
Make the most of a visit to the Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa by exploring its two nearby attractions. Visit the 12th-century Citadel of Saladin and its stunning Mohammed Ali Mosque—nicknamed the Alabaster Mosque—before strolling down to the Sultan Hassan Mosque and the 19th-century Al-Rifai Mosque. The latter contains the tombs of Egypt’s last king and the last Shah of Iran, who died in exile in Cairo in 1980.
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- Al-Rifai Mosque (Masjid Al-Rifa'i)
- Islamic Cairo
- Gayer-Anderson Museum
- Alabaster Mosque (Mosque of Muhammad Ali)
- Ibn Tulun Mosque
- Cairo Citadel (Citadel of Saladin)
- Mosque of Sultan Al-Mu'ayyad
- Al-Azhar Mosque
- Cave Church (St. Simon the Tanner Monastery)
- Al-Hakim Mosque
- Tahrir Square
- Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities)
- Mosque of Amr ibn Al-As
- Cairo Opera House
- Old Cairo (Misr Al-Qadima)