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The Fatimid architecture that developed in the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1167 CE) of North Africa combined elements of eastern and western architecture, drawing on Abbasid architecture, Byzantine, Ancient Egyptian, Coptic architecture and North African traditions; it bridged early Islamic styles and the medieval architecture of the Mamluks of Egypt, introducing many innovations.

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  • The Fatimid architecture that developed in the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1167 CE) of North Africa combined elements of eastern and western architecture, drawing on Abbasid architecture, Byzantine, Ancient Egyptian, Coptic architecture and North African traditions; it bridged early Islamic styles and the medieval architecture of the Mamluks of Egypt, introducing many innovations. The wealth of Fatimid architecture was found in the main cities of Mahdia (921–948), Al-Mansuriya (948–973) and Cairo (973–1169). The heartland of architectural activity and expression during Fatimid rule was at al-Qahira, the old city of Cairo, on the eastern side of the Nile, where many of the palaces, mosques and other buildings were built. Al-Aziz Billah (ruled 975–996) is generally considered to have been the most extensive of Fatimid builders, credited with at least thirteen major landmarks including the completion of the Great Palaces, the Cairo Mosque, a fortress, a belvedere, a bridge and public baths. The Fatimid caliphs competed with the rulers of the Abbasid and Byzantine empires, and indulged in luxurious palace building. Their palaces, their greatest architectural achievements, are known only by written descriptions, however. Several surviving tombs, mosques, gates and walls, mainly in Cairo, retain original elements, although they have been extensively modified or rebuilt in later periods. Notable extant examples of Fatimid architecture include the Great Mosque of Mahdiya, and the Al-Azhar Mosque, Al-Hakim Mosque, Juyushi and Lulua of Cairo. Although heavily influenced by architecture from Mesopotamia and Byzantium, the Fatimids introduced or developed unique features such as the four-centred keel arch and the squinch, connecting square interior volumes to the dome. Their mosques followed the hypostyle plan, where a central courtyard was surrounded by arcades with their roofs usually supported by keel arches, initially resting on columns with leafy Corinthian order capitals. They typically had features such as portals that protrude from the wall, domes above mihrabs and qiblas, and façade ornamentation with iconographic inscriptions, and stucco decorations. The woodwork of the doors and interiors of the buildings was often finely carved. The Fatimids also made considerable development towards mausoleum building. The mashad, a shrine that commemorates a descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was a characteristic type of Fatimid architecture. Three Fatimid-era gates in Cairo, Bab al-Nasr (1087), Bab al-Futuh (1087) and Bab Zuweila (1092), built under the orders of the vizier Badr al-Jamali (r. 1074–1094), have survived. Though they have been altered over the centuries, they have Byzantine architectural features, with little trace of the eastern Islamic tradition. Recently a "Neo-Fatimid" style has emerged, used in restorations or in modern Shia mosques by the Dawoodi Bohra, which claims continuity from the original Fatimid architecture. (en)
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  • The Fatimid architecture that developed in the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1167 CE) of North Africa combined elements of eastern and western architecture, drawing on Abbasid architecture, Byzantine, Ancient Egyptian, Coptic architecture and North African traditions; it bridged early Islamic styles and the medieval architecture of the Mamluks of Egypt, introducing many innovations. (en)
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  • Fatimid architecture (en)
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