A man walks through the courtyard of Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, surrounded by white columns, minarets and a large dome.

Al Azhar Mosque: An Ultimate Visitor’s Guide (By A Local)

Al-Azhar Mosque is a recently restored masterpiece – and an easy drop-off point for any Uber that also makes a good starting point for a Khan el Khalili tour.

Established in 972, Azhar Mosque is the highest authority in the Islamic world for the study of Sunni theology. And it attracts students from around the world – you’ll probably see Southeast Asian students around its walls.

azhar mosque

azhar mosque cairo

The courtyard at Azhar Mosque is paved in white marble and surrounded by Mamluk-era minarets.

If you’ve never been inside a mosque, this is a breathtaking introduction with its bright masonry, wooden ceilings, mashrabiya windows and ornaments. It includes five intricate minarets – remnants of the city’s various dynasties and their influence.

Historical facts:

azhar mosque cairo

  • Built under a Fatimid caliph, Al-Azhar Mosque was the first Fatimid monument in a newly established capital.
  • Today, it’s around double its original size with a capacity of 20,000 people.
  • It’s also the home to Al-Azhar University – the prestigious center of Sunni theology and the world’s second oldest continuously-run university.

A visit to Al-Azhar Mosque is always a calming experience. The honking cars and vendors of the nearby market are silenced, and the breeze winds around the mosque’s rows of columns. It’s a real treat on a hot summer day.

Insider’s tip: If you’re a woman wearing jeans or tight pants, you’ll probably be issued a long skirt at the entrance to cover up. Those can be awkward to walk in, so consider wearing a long skirt if you’re headed to Islamic Cairo and plan to visit lots of mosques.

Need to know:

Tickets: Free.

On Google Maps: 27W7+73