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There are many reasons for choosing the Complex of Sultan Hassan for analysis. It is always educative to enjoy the beauty of the Old City. It is a good chance to learn the peculiarities of Egyptian architecture and understand a true cultural essence. The Complex of Sultan Hassan is a marvelous building of the Mamluks period. The mosque contains many tragic and mysterious facts (“The Rough Guide to Cairo” 102). People of that epoch were not able to give the answers to several questions. The current researchers and philosophers continue making attempts and face a serious challenge analyzing its peculiarities.
The current paper aims at investigating the Complex of Sultan Hassan, its general view, and religious importance. It is not enough to develop some historical perspective and prove its significance. It is more important to analyze the reasons why the building was created in the form of a rood (Ching, Jarzombek, and Prakash 458) and if its creators succeeded in their goals and needs. The Complex of Sultan Hassan contains several religious, philosophical, and political messages that should be defined by the current locals to study from the mistakes made in the past.
If a person gets a chance to look at the mosque from above, it may become the beginning of a wonderful trip to the Complex of Sultan Hassan. From the sky, it looks like a rood with four defined endings that symbolized four different schools included in one construction. The general view of the complex does not differ considerably from other mosques of Egypt. However, look at it, a person may feel a kind of protection, power, and a piece of kindness. Is such a combination of feelings possible? If it is about the Complex of Sultan Hassan, it is possible. The building looks like a massive giant within the tiny streets of Cairo (Ansah 13).
People, who look at it or go inside, feel comfort and protection that they may need. Many researchers define the complex as one of the most compact monuments in the Islamic culture (El-Khateeb and Ismail 109). It is impressive indeed as it was inherent to the majority of buildings introduced during the Mamluks style. The Mamluks were able to survive and flourish even during the political or economic declines (Behrens-Abouseif 13). The representatives of the epoch attempted to change the meaning of the religious message they could leave: religious foundations were not ordinary foundations but the funerary memorial they could create for themselves and memorize their impact for a long period (Behrens-Abouseif 14).
The history of the complex is long and even tragic. During the seven years of building, first, the case of plague took the lives of many workers, and then, its creator, Sultan Hassan died two years before the building was finished. Some people said that he was betrayed and assassinated by his slaves, and some writers admit that he died in the war, and there was no actual body that is now introduced in the mosque (Williams 65). The historical overview of the construction itself and the methods of the building remain to be unknown, and people offer their guests. However, the only true and evident fact is that the financial costs spend on its construction were too high. Sultan did not want to economize on the buildings that could represent the spirit of the Mamluks over time.
It is a known fact that Islam gives a function but not a form because the context can easily affect the form, environment, and the final message that has to be delivered (Embi and Abdullahi 27). In my opinion, the idea to make this complex performing the functions of a school, hospital, hotel, etc. (Costanzo 40) proves the possibility to analyze the population’s needs and the governmental opportunities. Though not all sultans were eager to share their richness with their people, Sultan Hassan proved his intention to be a generous person. Still, many people find this political figure weak and uncertain because he was under the influence and a kind of control of the additional groups of people.
I think that the construction offered by Sultan Hassan is a symbolic chance to be protected against the most powerful and inevitable threats that are hard to avoid. People can make independent solutions and choose. Still, they are not always free to follow their own will, and the Complex of Sultan Hassan with its massiveness, calmness, and variety is a symbol of human hope that should be present in every person.
In general, the evaluation of the Complex of Sultan Hassan helps to understand that architecture is not only about the material and equipment used. Islamic architecture is full of sense and functionality. It is possible not to know the details of the construction, but it is impossible to avoid the meaning of each brick, frescoes, and window chosen. Even the plan of the mosque reminds the importance of religion and the necessity to unite different interests to survive under the most unfavorable conditions.
Ansah, Hassan. Life, Death, and Community in Cairo’s City of the Dead. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2010. Print.
Behrens-Abouseif, Doris. The Arts of the Mamluks in Egypt and Syria: Evolution and Impact. Gottingen: V&R Unipress GmbH, 2012. Print.
Ching, Francis, D.K., Jarzombek, Mark, M., and Vikramaditya Prakash. A Global History of Architecture. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print.
Costanzo, Denise. What Architecture Means: Connecting Ideas and Design. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015. Print.
El-Khateeb, Ahmed and Mostafa Ismail. “Sounds from the Past: The Acoustics of Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrasa.” Building Acoustics 14.2 (2007): 109-132.
Embi, Mohamed and Yahya Abdullahi. “Evolution of Islamic Geometrical Patterns.” GJAT 2.2 (2012): 27-39.
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The Rough Guide to Cairo & the Pyramids. New York, NY: Penguin, 2011. Print.
Williams, Caroline. Islamic Monuments in Cairo: The Practical Guide. New York, NY: American University in Cairo Press, 2008. Print.