The Fatimids
The architecture of the Fatimids combines elements from the architecture of Syria, Iraq and Iran in Asia to the east, with elements from North Africa to the west. It is primarily stone-built architecture. In Cairo, the city that the Fatimids established as their capital in 358 / 969, they sometimes re-used stone from Pharonic monuments, as well as column capitals and shafts from classical architecture. Brick is used as a structural material, but is usually sheathed in a carved decorative layer of stone or stucco. Carved wood is used for elements such as doors, panels and ceiling beams.

The Fatimid period maintained the traditional hypostyle-mosque planning arrangement. However, the minaret, which evolved as a standard architectural element in Abbasid religious architecture, is used only infrequently in Fatimid architecture. The architecture of the Fatimids also provides one of the first known examples of religious Islamic architecture anywhere to align the façade of the mosque with the street. Thus it reconciles the different directions of the adjacent street and the qibla by use of a triangular-plan section, which includes a broken entry axis connecting the street to the prayer hall.

The keel-shaped arch emerges as a common feature in Fatimid architecture, and the dome sometimes incorporates a keel-shaped profile. The Fatimid dome usually rests on squinches or a series of niches, which allows for the transition from the square base of the domed space to the circular outline of the dome.

Foliated kufic calligraphy is used widely in building inscriptions. Fluted decoration is common for arches and domes. Windows are often placed within façade recesses. Arabesque, vegetal and geometric patterns, which are executed in marble, stucco, stone or wood, are common and, in earlier examples of Fatimid art and architecture at least, show the influence of Abbasid models as they emerged in Iraq, and also under the Aghlabids in Tunisia and the Tulunids in Egypt.
Door wings of al-Hakim bi-Amrillah
Hegira 386–411 / AD 996–1021
Museum of Islamic Art
Cairo, Egypt
The decorative motifs of this wooden door panel from al-Azhar mosque with their arabesque patterns show influences of the Abbasid-era architecture of the Egyptian Tulunids.