The Ibn Tulun Mosque was completed in 879 AD on Mount Yashkur in a settlement named al-Qata'i by the founder of Egypt's Tulunid Dynasty (868-905 AD), Ahmad ibn Tulun.
The mosque had been built over a period of three years of mud brick became the focal point of the Tulunid capital that lasted only 26 years. It was the third congregational mosque to be built in what is now greater Cairo, and at approximately 26,318 square meters in size, is the third largest mosque in the world. It is the oldest mosque in Egypt that has survived in a fairly original form. An ancient calligraphy in 9th century Kufic script provides: "The Amir... has ordered the construction of this blessed and happy mosque, using the revenues from a pure and legitimate source that God has granted him...”.
Ibn Tulun Mosque is located in the Sayyedah Zeinab district has an atmosphere of tranquility unlike that of any other mosque in the city. Ahmed Ibn Tulun was sent to govern Cairo by the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad, which explains the Mesopotamian influence. It is the oldest original mosque and the largest in Egypt.
It incorporates a number of unique features, such as the external spiral staircase of the unusual minaret which is similar to the famous Samarra Mosque in Mesopotamia. Its design is simple, consisting of an open sahn with an ablution fountain in the center, surrounded by four riwaqs, the largest being the Qiblah riwaq. There are five naves on the Qiblah side (the side facing Mecca), and two on the remaining sides. The building style follows that of the Abbasid type, characterized by pilasters on which slightly pointed arches are applied, and which have a slight inward curve at the bottom.
The rectangular building surrounding the sahn has a rampart walk and the high walled additions (Ziyyadahs) are found on the south, west and north. Within the prayer niche, or mihrab, constructed of marble and gilted mosaic and bordered by four columns with leaf like crowns, is a wonderful pulpit, or minbar of 13th (Mameluke) century origin.