Inauguration of the Aqsunqur Mosque Conservation Project
Aqsunqur mosque, built in 1347 by Emir Shams ad-Din Aqsunqur, is located in Cairo's Darb al-Ahmar district. The building was renovated in 1652-1654 by Emir Ibrahim Agha al-Mustahfizan who decorated the back wall of the prayer hall, as well as his own mausoleum, with blue Iznik-style tiles, which led to the structure being known as the “Blue Mosque."
Conservation work at the mosque was a partnership between WMF and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The work was carried out by a team of Egyptian conservators from 2009 to 2012. The mosque had been closed because of structural instability following damage suffered in the earthquake of 1992. The project addressed these structural problems, introducing seismic retrofitting solutions, and also addressing problems of water infiltration and decay of the decorated surfaces. Cleaning of the entire exterior and interior surfaces, new illumination, and training of a maintenance team were also implemented in order to re-open the monument both to visit and to use by the local community.
The official inauguration of the newly restored mosque was celebrated on May 2, 2015. At this ceremony, H.H. Prince Karim Aga Khan and representatives of the Egyptian government and civil society, including the Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh El Damaty and Cairo Governor Galal Saeed, offered remarks on the importance of this conservation project and its meaning to local residents and international visitors. After official speeches concluded, guests attended the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the completion of the project, and the opening of an exhibition presenting the various projects conducted by AKTC and WMF in the Darb el-Ahmar district.
The completion of the Aqsunqur mosque conservation project marks a partnership between AKTC and WMF that has spanned the past 15 years in Cairo, during which major Islamic monuments were conserved and returned to the local community for their use and benefit.