Al-Azhar Mosque, El Cairo . 970

'The Mosque of al-Azhar, was the first to be built in the Fatimid city of Cairo, and is the oldest and biggest Islamic university in the Islamic world, attracting students from a multiplicity of nations. The present standing structure does not date back in its entirety to the original Fatimid mosque, the rectangular surface area of which occupied only 70 m x 85 m. Today the building occupies over double that area, the dimensions reaching to 120 m x 130 m, owing to the various additions made at different periods. The ground-plan of the mosque at the time it was built was an open courtyard surrounded by three porticoes, the largest of which is the eastern portico (that of the qibla), which is composed of five arcades. The arcade that overlooks the courtyard is supported by piers, while the remaining arcades are supported on marble columns.'


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