Aga Khan Mausoleum

The Aga Khan Mausoleum is the last resting place of Aga Khan III, Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, who passed away in 1957. Because Egypt was formerly the seat of the Fatimids, an Ismaili Shia dynasty, the tomb is built in Aswan, Egypt, near the Nile.

The mausoleum’s construction began in 1956 and concluded in 1960. [1] Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, the Aga Khan’s wife, commissioned the mausoleum’s construction, which initially welcomed tourists inside but was closed to the public in 1997. Every day, a red rose is placed on the Aga Khan’s grave, a tradition initiated by Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan.

The tomb is located on a hill overlooking Aga Khan III and Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan’s house, the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan House, on the west bank of the Nile. The mansion was constructed by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy and used as a winter residence for Aga Khan III, whose will stipulated that he would be buried two years after his death near the villa.

The Design of the Mausoleum:

The Aga Khan III Tomb was meant to look like the Masjid al-Juyushi, a Fatimid mosque and devoted mausoleum that was built in 1085. Both the Masjid al-Juyushi and the Aga Khan III Mausoleum have a rectangular shape with high walls, a central dome, and several lesser domes. The Mausoleum of Aga Khan III, like the Masjid al-Juyushi, has an inside mihrab for prayer. Despite having many functional and aesthetic parallels to the Masjid al-Juyushi, the Mausoleum of Aga Khan III lacks some of the Masjid al-most Juyushi’s cherished elements, such as the tower, muqarnas cornice, and courtyard.

The architectural style of the Mausoleum of Aga Khan III may have drawn inspiration from other Fatimid structures, such as the Aswan Necropolis, a group of tombs built between the 10th and 12th centuries, based on aesthetic similarities. The Aga Khan III Mausoleum and the Aswan Necropolis both have domes with octagonal transition zones, arched gateways, mihrabs, and construction materials that fit well with the desert landscape (the Aswan Necropolis tombs were mostly built with mud brick and coated with lime plaster).

Exterior Design:

The Aga Khan III Mausoleum is made of pink limestone. The exterior wall is adorned with crenelated parapets, and the mausoleum’s interior is only accessible through an arched entryway on the western side. A massive central dome with arched tracery openings runs the length of the octagonal drum on the mausoleum’s eastern side. On the exterior wall, there are four tiny domes, one on each corner.

Interior Design:

The inside mausoleum of Aga Khan III, built of Carrara marble, is adorned with Quranic inscriptions. According to the mausoleum’s floor layout, the tomb faces a mihrab, which is placed under the mausoleum’s central dome on the eastern wall.

Burial of Aga Khan:

On February 20th, 1959, two years after his death and his first burial in Switzerland, Aga Khan III was reburied at the mausoleum. Over 2,000 people attended, including Aga Khan IV, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, and other dignitaries. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan died in 2000 and was buried next to her husband at the tomb of her spouse.

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