< Last Photo   << Last Chapter                Notes on the Geography of Places: Egypt: Historic Cairo 2         Next Chapter >>   Next Photo > 
 

Notes on the Geography of Egypt: Historic Cairo 2

We continue south on the main road of the old city.

Make default image size larger

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 1

Since the 1930s, the old city has been slashed east-west through its midriff by this road, just north of the city's most famous mosque, al-Azhar. We begin there.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 2

(No. 97) The Mosque of al-Azhar, "The Shining," was established in 970 as the new city's chief mosque. A side door is shown here because the main facade of the mosque is hidden by later additions.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 3

The fame of this mosque and its university is such that it's a lot more crowded than any other mosque on this tour. Access for non-Muslims used to be tricky. Here's Creswell talking about the duplicity of one 19th Century French visitor: "In or about 1820 Pascal Coste made the first plan of the mosque. Muhammad 'Ali had asked him to submit plans for two mosques. Coste replied that before doing so he must make himself acquainted with the interiors of the principal mosques of Cairo, and was therefore given a firman for this purpose, but was told not to go to the Mosque of al-Azhar. However, being very anxious to complete his series of plans, he went one day to see the chief of this mosque, was extremely well received, and remarked that he had been told by the Pasha to report on the pavement of the various parts of the mosque which needed repair. By this means he was able, without being troubled by the students, to take a number of measurements, sufficient to make a very rough plan of the general layout of the mosque...." (Creswell, vol. 1, p. 41)

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 4

Like so many others, this mosque has been extensively remodeled over the centuries. The minaret was added by Sultan Quytbay in 1495, and the portico that fails to shade anyone early this morning was reconstructed in 1891.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 5

To its left is a minaret added in 1510 by Sultan al-Ghuri, whose nearby mosque is coming up momentarily.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 6

Original arcades, from 972, on the qibla side of the courtyard.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 7

Original mihrab or prayer niche, of the same age. A second one lies farther back to the left, where four additional aisles were added in 1751.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 8

The newer mihrab.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 9

Just to the west of al-Azhar are the mosque and mausoleum of Sultan al-Ghuri. The mosque was accessible early in 2007; the mausoleum was not.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 10

(No. 189) Entrance to the Mosque of al-Ghuri, built 1504-5.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 11

The interior has a cruciform layout; the top of the courtyard is rimmed with a heavy muqarna cornice.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 12

One of four iwans.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 13

Another perspective.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 14

Arch and cornice.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 15

Farther south down the main street, with the minaret of the Mosque of al-Ghuri on the left.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 16

Early in the morning, the street is quiet. The minaret ahead belongs to the Mosque of al-Fakahani, "the fruitseller."

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 17

(No. 109). The Mosque of al-Fakahani, with trilobated entrance with ablaq decoration. Inside, there's a covered courtyard, but the whole place is closed today.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 18

(No. 401). The Sabil-Kuttab (waterpoint-school) of Tusun Pasha, built in 1820. Tusun was another of Muhammad Ali's sons who died young.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 19

(No. 190) Facade of the Mosque of al-Mu'ayyad Shaykh, built in 1420 in fulfillment of a vow he made while held as a prisoner on the site. The wall was rebuilt in 1874.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 20

Entrance.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 21

Another view of the same east wall.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 22

And another, showing the dome over the tomb chamber.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 23

Courtyard with the later addition of an ablutions fountain. The mosque itself was closed for repairs in 2007; these pictures come from the adjoining minaret, whose shadow is visible here.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 24

(No. 199) The mosque had three minarets. The two that survive--we were just on top on one of them--are on top of the Bab Zuwayla, the gate marking the southern boundary of the historic city.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 25

Here's the Bab Zuwayla seen from the south.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 26

Both minarets can be climbed.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 27

The view from the top, looking north.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 28

The same view, turned east a bit.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 29

Due east.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 30

Looking west, with the high rises of modern Cairo at the horizon and near the Nile.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 31

Back on the street: cotton for sale.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 32

(No. 406). This is the last of Cairo's once-common covered streets. It's the Qasaba of Radwan Bey, built in the 17th century. The merchants worked down, lived up. They were outside the city wall, marked by the Bab Zuwayla, but the road continues south, as do we.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 33

Close-up of the cantilevered apartments.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 34

Sad to say, there's nothing up there except a reconstructed facade.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 35

Persevering southward.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 36

Basketball cauliflower.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 37

(No. 129) The workday begins. In the distance is the Mosque of Ganem al-Bahlawan, built 1478-1510. Al-Bahlawan was a brother of the chief amir of Sultan Qaytbay.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 38

(No. 225) This is the Takiyat (living quarters for Sufis) of al-Sulaymaniya, a governor of Egypt. Built 1543.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 39

It's occupied now by squatters.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 40

The paving is original; notice the assortment of antique columns of varying lengths.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 41

Another modern street, the first to cut across the historic city. It's the Sharia Muhammad 'Ali.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 42

(No. 130) The main street continues south past this entrance of the Mosque of Ulmas, built 1329-30. Ulmas was an amir of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammed and became viceroy, only to be executed in 1333. The building is inaccessible and apparently flooded. You can try moving the heavy gate, but if you do a watchman will be roused.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 43

(No. 263) The Tomb of Hasan Sadaqa, built 1315-21. Sadaqa was a mamluk of al-Nasir Muhammad and built this as a madrasa for women, as well as his own tomb. In 1856 the building was taken over by Mevlevi Sufis who wanted a samakhana or hall for Sufi dancing. They symbolized the change by putting what looks like a Mevlevi hat atop the minaret.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 44

The dome of the tomb of Hasan Sadaqa and of the amir Sunqur al-Sadi.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 45

The interior has an abundance of windows under an inscription band on the base of the dome.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 46

Mihrab with arabesques and inscription bands.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 47

Heavy-handed restoration.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 48

(No. 265) The Sabil-Kuttab (waterpoint and school) and Rab' (residential apartment block) of al-Qizlar, a black eunuch. The sabil is in the center, behind the grill; the apartments are on either side. The archway led to a courtyard, now gone.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 49

Once again, the restoration is facade deep.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 50

If you really want to know what's behind the facade, this is the answer--another Cairene village.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 51

A former theater at the corner of Sharia Muhammad Karim, another modern arterial crossing the old city.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 52

Close-up.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 53

(No. 146) The Zawiyat, or prayer hall, of al-Abbar and the domed tomb of the amir Aydaken al-Bunduqdari, built 1284-5.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 54

(No. 267) The palace, built in 1352, of the Amir Sayf al-Din Taz al-Nasiri, one of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad's many sons-in law. The Khedive Ismai'l made it a girls' school. Later it became a warehouse for the Ministry of Education.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 55

(No. 268) The Sabil-Kuttab of Ali Agha Dar al Sa'ada, built in 1677 by the chief black eunuch at the Ottoman court.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 56

(Nos. 147 and 152) On the left, the Mosque of Shaykhu, built 1349 by a mamluk of al-Nasir Muhammad; on the right, built in 1355, is his tomb and khanqah, or Sufi communal dwelling.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 57

Entrance to the khanqah. Push on the door and, miraculously, it opens.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 58

We're going to go inside, but first look at this other door. See anything odd?

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 59

You did see it! Hieroglyphics--the lintel is what's known in the trade as pharaonic spolia.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 60

We're back to the street and ready for the open door.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 61

Surprised? We have a bright, bright courtyard and a set of arcades against the qibla or Mecca-facing wall to the left.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 62

The ceilings were painted during a restoration in 1658.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 63

It's wearing off.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 64

Freshly repainted.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 65

Painters' scaffolding.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 66

A 17th century dome of wood.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 67

Once again, a random assortment of columns.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 68

Mihrab and dikka.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 69

(No. 220) We've come to the end of the walk and turned onto Sharia Shaykhu, the street separating the mosque and tomb of Shaykhu. In a block or two toward the Nile we reach the Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, built in 876-79, a century before the founding of Cairo. Notice the double wall.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 70

Here's the ziyada or space bedtween those walls. Old photographs show tenements pressing against the outer wall, but they've been cleared. The minaret belongs to an adjoining mosque, the Mosque of Sarghatmish, from 1356.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 71

Inside, there's a courtyard based on the still earlier mosque at Samarra. The domed fountain and the mosque with its very unusual external staircase are later additions, probably from about 1300.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 72

Another view. Many peripheral gates once connected the mosque to the dense housing that used to surround it.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 73

Interior of the ablutions fountain.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 74

Arcades of brick piers run along the qibla side.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 75

Mihrab or prayer niche.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 76

One of several stucco mihrabs attached to the piers.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 77

Half of the mosque's original foundation inscription.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 78

(No. 218) The Mosque of Sarghatmish, built in 1356 by an amir of al-Nasir Muhammed. This is the mosque previously seen rising about the ziyada of the adjoining Mosque of Ibn Tulun.

Egypt: Historic Cairo 2 picture 79

Time to grab a taxi!


www.greatmirror.com Web   
 

* Australia * Austria * Bangladesh * Belgium * Botswana * Brazil * Burma / Myanmar * Cambodia (Angkor) * Canada (B.C.) * China * The Czech Republic * Egypt * Fiji * France * Germany * Ghana * Greece * Hungary * India: Themes * Northern India * Peninsular India * Indonesia * Israel * Italy * Japan * Jerusalem * Jordan * Kenya * Laos * Kosovo * Malawi * Malaysia * Mauritius * Mexico * Morocco * Mozambique * Namibia * The Netherlands * New Zealand * Nigeria * Norway * Oman * Pakistan * The Philippines * Poland * Portugal * Senegal * Singapore * South Africa * Spain * Sri Lanka * Sudan * Syria (Aleppo) * Tanzania * Thailand * Trinidad * Turkey (Istanbul) * Uganda * The U.A.E. (Dubai) * The United Kingdom * The Eastern United States * The Western United States * Oklahoma * Uzbekistan * Vietnam * The West Bank * Yemen * Zambia * Zimbabwe *
go back to previous picture go to next chapter go to next picture go to previous chapter page