Neighbouring historical mosques damaged in explosion

Nevine El-Aref , Friday 24 Jan 2014

Four Islamic Mameluke mosques neighbouring the Museum of Islamic Art were also affected by Friday's car bomb blast

Cracks at the MIA facade

Four historic mosques in the vicinity of Friday's bomb blast at Cairo's central police headquarters have been damaged in the explosion, reported an archeological committee on behalf of Egypt's antiquities ministry.

Mohamed Ibrahim, head of the ministry of state for antiquties (MSA), said that the four mosques were Agha Al-Hini, Al-Amen Hussein, Fatma Al-Shaqraa and Abdel-Ghani El-Fakhri, also known as Al-Banat Mosque.

All of the mosques' stained glass windows were shattered, as well as parts of their wooden gates and latticed wooden windows known as mashrabiya, Ibrahim said.

The archeological team has already begun inspect the losses in order to begin restoration immediately.

Located near the heart of old Islamic Cairo, a district populated with some of the world's most important and historic Islamic sites, all of the mosques damaged in the blast are notable for their designs.

Most notable is Abdel-Ghani El-Fakhri Mosque, which was constructed in the Mameluke era by Prince Fakhreddin Abdel-Ghani. The mosque is known as Gamaa El-Banat, or the Mosque for Girls, due it once being a supposed lucky place for ageing spinsters who believed that passing quickly between the rows of seats during the first prostration of prayer would break their current loveless spell and reward them with a new partner to marry.

A larger mosque with a huge open court where gypsum windows are inlaid with stained glass, it contains lavishly decorated wooden ceilings, a floor embellished with black and white marble and doors which demonstrate the art of interlocking wood joinery. The building is a beautiful example of Islamic architectural design, and painstaking work has been done over the years to reinforce the mosque's walls, replace missing and decayed stones and clean and desalinate the on-site masonry.

The mosque is not far from Egypt's Museum of Islamic Arts, which also suffered serious damage during Friday's explosion.

Authorities from the MSA worked on Friday to evacuate all objects on display at the museum, as well as collecting broken objects and wrapping them in special linen textiles and plastic bags to save for the restoration process.

Mohamed El-Sheikha, head of the MSA's projects section, told Ahram Online that the ministry is currently restoring and securing the museum's wooden doors to prevent vandalism and theft in the coming days.

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