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.
Al-Rifai Mosque (Masjid Al-Rifa'i)
El-Refaey, El-Darb El-Ahmar, Cairo, Egypt
Enter the Al-Rifai Mosque on a combined ticket with the Sultan Hassan Mosque, opposite: Al-Rifai was designed to complement the older mosque, and the two feel very much of a pair. Just outside the walls of Cairo’s old citadel, the Al-Rifai Mosque is often visited as part of a tour of Islamic Cairo, including the Citadel, the Alabaster Mosque, and perhaps also the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. A few day tours combine Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo, adding in sights such as the Hanging Church, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, and the Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Al-Rifai Mosque and Sultan Hassan Mosque are a must-visit for fans of Islamic architecture.
Dress modestly when visiting Islamic religious sites, covering shoulders, upper arms, and legs.
As always when visiting a mosque, women will need to cover their hair, while everyone will need to remove shoes.
How to Get There
The Al-Rifai Mosque and Sultan Hassan Mosque stand on Midan Al-Qala’a, just north of the Bab Al-Azab gate to the Citadel of Saladin. A number of buses run from Midan Abdel Moniem Riad bus station, behind the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square, but you’ll need Arabic-language skills to use them.
When to Get There
The Al-Rifai Mosque is open from morning to afternoon from Saturday to Thursday; on Fridays, it closes for prayers from midmorning. It’s a popular attraction for Cairenes and Muslim visitors to Egypt, so it’s worth visiting outside the Islamic weekend (Friday to Saturday).
The Top Mosques in Cairo
Historic Cairo has been recognized with UNESCO World Heritage status for its grand Islamic architecture. Besides Al-Rifai Mosque and the Sultan Hassan Mosque, don’t miss the 9th-century Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the 10th-century Al-Azhar Mosque, the 15th-century Qait Bey Madrassa, the 13th-century Qalawun complex, and the 10,000-capacity Alabaster Mosque.
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- Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa
- Islamic Cairo
- Alabaster Mosque (Mosque of Muhammad Ali)
- Gayer-Anderson Museum
- Cairo Citadel (Citadel of Saladin)
- Ibn Tulun Mosque
- 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)