Jami' al-Qadi Yahya Zayn al-Din
Cairo, Egypt
This mosque stands at the intersection of Sharia Port Said and Sharia al-Azhar. It is the first of three monuments built by the amir and judge Zayn al-Din Yahya, the grand ustadar, or majordomo, of Sultan Gaqmaq. The pen-box blazon appears in small panels on either side of the stalactite hood of the window over the southern entrance.

As the name Zayn al-Din ('ornament of religion') implies, Yahya was a mamluk of the pen, a member of the civil and religious orders; mamluks of the sword, of the military order, were generally called Sayf al-Din, 'sword of religion.' Yahya acquired a great fortune and an exceptional position, which he enjoyed for 25 years, until 1470, when Sultan Qaytbay, succumbing to an old grudge, had this octogenarian thrown into prison and cruelly tortured. 

The mosque, plain and unadorned, is of the congregational courtyard plan. The top half of the minaret is missing. The main features of this complex, an attenuated ground plan and increasingly ornate surface decoration, are typical of the late Burgi mosque-madrasa. The alluring view of the mosque from Sharia Port Said looking north, with merlons and minaret outlined against the sky, is marred by the double row of traffic lanes. (Once the new tunnel under Sharia al-Azhar is operational, this ugly traffic overpass will be removed.) The main entrance is underneath the minaret. The mosque was extensively restored in 1983 by the Comite, which also rebuilt the southern facade. The ceilings in the iwans and in the lantern cupola of the sahn, with its eight interlacing rosettes around a radiating inscription, are especially attractive. 


Williams, Caroline. 2002. Islamic Monuments in Cairo: The Practical Guide. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 129, 229.
Taqatu' Shari' al-Azhar wa-Shari' Bur Sa'id, Cairo, Egypt
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Associated Names
1444/848 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Qadi Yahya Zayin al-Din Mosque
Jami' wa-Madrasat wa-Khanqah al-Qadi Yahya Zayn al-Din
Building Usages