Fodor's Expert Review Mosque of Wazir al-Salih Tala'i
Built in 1160, this is one of the last Fatimid structures constructed outside the city walls, and is also one of the most elegant mosques in Cairo, in part because of its simplicity. Like many mosques in Cairo, 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 of this mosque is the porchlike 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.