Rosetta Mosque reopens

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

The Al-Mahaly Mosque in the Delta city of Rosetta has been reopened after the completion of its restoration

Rosetta Mosque reopens
Rosetta Mosque reopens

 

T

he inhabitants of the Delta city of Rosetta celebrated the reopening of one of their most important mosques, the Al-Mahaly Mosque, after seven years of restoration on Monday as part of plans to preserve the city’s monuments and transform it into an open-air museum of Islamic art.

“The inauguration of this mosque is a gift to Rosetta inhabitants on the occasion of the blessed month of Ramadan, given its importance to the people of Rosetta,” said Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mustafa Waziri.

He expressed his appreciation of the fruitful and constructive cooperation between the Ministries of Tourism and Antiquities and Religious Endowments that had resulted in the reopening of a large number of restored historic mosques.

He added that the reopening of the mosque underscored the SCA’s commitment to protecting Egypt’s Islamic shrines, especially in Rosetta which is considered to be an open-air museum of Islamic art and the second-largest city housing Islamic buildings after Cairo.

As part of the restoration work on the mosque, all cracks were filled and restored, structures strengthened, and problems with water and sewage fixed as a groundwater-lowering project was implemented.

Hisham Samir, assistant to the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities for Archaeological Projects and Museums, said the mosque had been in a bad condition, with numerous cracks, a high rate of humidity, and a high level of groundwater. The restoration work began in 2017 with joint funding from the SCA and the Ministry of Religious Endowments, totalling approximately LE105 million.

Samir said that the restoration work had included meticulous architectural work in addition to the architectural, topographical, photographic, and archaeological documentation of the archaeological evidence beneath the mosque before, during, and after the execution of the restoration work.

This had encompassed the disassembly and reinstallation of the mosque’s marble flooring, construction work on the wooden shrine, the completion of woodwork and the replacement of damaged parts, the disassembly and reinstallation of the mosque’s columns and minaret, and work to reduce groundwater levels and the construction of wells for water extraction.

 

There were also site coordination works, the establishment of new ablution areas, and the building of new restroom facilities. The poor sewage system in the area that had negatively impacted the mosque was fixed, preventing the leakage of sewage water into the walls. A new lighting system was also installed.

The gypsum decorations of the mosque gates were restored along with the woodwork of the mihrab (pulpit), Quran reciting chair, and wooden ceilings. All the damaged wooden elements of the doors and windows were repaired and replaced, and the marble elements of the columns were cleaned.

The Al-Mahaly Mosque is composed of a central courtyard surrounded by arcades with a total of 99 columns each of a different shape upholding the ceiling. It has six decorated doors, and its facades are decorated with carved bricks.

Ali Al-Mahaly, who died in Rosetta in 1495 CE, founded the mosque, which was later restored in the Ottoman era. Ali Mubarak, minister of education in the time of the Khedive Ismail in the 19th century, poured praise on the mosque, claiming that its size and the number of its columns placed it on a level with the Mosque of Al-Azhar in Cairo.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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