Fodor's Expert Review Mosque of al-Salih Tala'i
Built in 1160, one of the last Fatimid structures constructed outside the city walls is also one of Cairo's most elegant mosques. Like many others, the ground floor housed several shops, which allowed the authorities to pay for the upkeep. Today, these shops are underground because the street level has risen considerably over time.
The mosque has a standard early-Islamic rectangular courtyard plan. The main facade consists of five keel arches on Greco-Roman columns taken from an earlier building that are linked by wooden tie beams. Between each arch, a set of long panels is topped with Fatimid shell niches. The most distinctive architectural feature, however, is the porch-like area underneath the arches of the main facade that creates an open, airy interior court. Inside, the columns are also taken from elsewhere: no two of their capitals are alike.