20230606 egypt mosque 1
An internal view of the historical Mosque of al-Zahir Baybars. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: A 13th century mosque that fell into disrepair after being used over the years as a soap factory, a slaughterhouse and a fort reopened in Cairo on Monday after undergoing a long restoration.

20230606 egypt mosque 3
Egypt reopens the mosque of al-Zahir Baybars after the completion of renovation work, in Cairo. Image Credit: Reuters

The mosque of Al-Zhahir Baybars, built under Mamluk rule in 1268, spans an area of three acres just north of central Cairo, making it Egypt's third-largest mosque.

The mosque underwent mechanical and chemical restoration to bring it back to its original condition, said Tarek Mohamed El-Behairy, who supervised the restoration.

20230606 egypt mosque 3
The mosque of Al-Zhahir Baybars is Egypt's third-largest mosque

"Some parts were destroyed, some parts have been dismantled because they were structurally unsuitable to remain in the mosque," he said.

"But we were very keen, even in the reconstruction process, to work according to the correct archaeological style." The restoration, which cost $7.68 million, was co-funded with Kazakhstan and began in 2007.

20230606 egypt mosque 4
Image Credit: Reuters

For 225 years, the mosque was either closed, abandoned or had operated for non-religious purposes that contributed to its disrepair.

20230606 egypt mosque 4
A man walks inside the historical Mosque of al-Zahir Baybars. Image Credit: Reuters

During Napoleon's campaign in Egypt it was used as a military fort, then under Ottoman rule in the 19th century as a soap factory. Later, when the British invaded Egypt in 1882, it was used as a slaughterhouse.

Al-Zahir Baybars was a prominent figure in Egypt's history credited with cementing Mamluk rule in Egypt which spanned three centuries up to 1517.

20230606 egypt mosque 2
The historical mosque of al-Zahir Baybars was built in 1268 by the Mamluk Sultan al-Zahir Baybars al-Bunduqdari. Image Credit: Reuters