Turkey to restore historic mosques, buildings in Egypt

Turkey to restore historic mosques, buildings in Egypt

The historic Al-Azhar Mosque is among several buildings in Egypt that TİKA will restore after signing an agreement with Egyptian officials. (Photo: AP)

March 26, 2012, Monday/ 17:42:00/ CUMALİ ÖNAL

The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) will undertake the restoration of a number of historic buildings, mosques and fountains left by the Ottomans in Egypt, most of which are currently in bad shape.

A protocol was signed on Friday between TİKA President Serdar Çam and Ahmet Tayyib, the Sheikh of Egypt’s al-Azhar region. TİKA is preparing to begin restoration of the Azhar and Hussein Mosques, two historic buildings in Egypt.

Speaking to the press about the deal, Çam noted that TİKA’s efforts to restore old mosques and other edifices built by the Ottomans will not remain limited to the two mosques, adding that he hoped to increase the number of buildings restored over the next few years.

During the restoration work to be carried out on the al-Azhar Mosque, a segment of the religious complex -- which in the past served as a dormitory for Turkish students -- will be renovated. The electrical equipment and rugs inside the Imam Hussein Mosque, which is next to the Khan el-Khalili suq, will also be renewed as part of the restoration.

The al-Azhar Mosque, located by al-Azhar University, is a quiet spot where students frequently study. The Imam Hussein Mosque offers religious education and sermons to its congregation. Both edifices were built during the time of the Fatimid Islamic Caliphate, which reigned between 909 and 1171, and were restored many times by subsequent rulers of the area. The most significant restoration work carried out on both mosques was ordered by an Ottoman kethüda -- or chamberlain -- in 1753. TİKA will also renovate the Mosque of Shafi’i, located in Cairo’s cemeteries district, one of the most neglected neighborhoods in the city. The restoration will focus on stopping the water that is continuously seeping through the mosque’s walls, a situation which experts say is seriously threatening the mosque.

The Mohammed Ali Mosque, commissioned by an Ottoman ruler of Egypt, Mehmet Ali Paşa, will also be renovated by TİKA. The madrasah of Sultan Mahmud in Cairo will also be restored and will later serve as the Egyptian-Turkish Center for Islamic Research.

Surviving examples of Turkish architecture in Egypt date from the reigns of the Tulunoğulları, İhşitoğulları, Ayyubi, Memluks and the Ottomans. Over the past few years, the number of Turks visiting Egypt’s historic sites has more than doubled, due to improvements in the cooperation between the two countries over tourism.

Restoration in Skopje

In a related development, the Anatolia news agency reported last week that TİKA will be restoring the house where Ali Rıza Efendi, the father of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk -- the founder of the Turkish Republic -- is located, in Kocacık, a village in a district of Skopje, Macedonia.

The protocol for the restoration of the village house was signed between TİKA’s president and the Macedonian Culture Ministry on March 23. Speaking to the press after the signing of the protocol, Macedonian Culture Minister Elizabeta Kamchevska said the completion of the project will contribute significantly to tourism in the area.

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