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Notes on the Geography of Egypt: Historic Cairo 1: Photo 1

world pictures Egypt: Historic Cairo 1

We're at the north end of the city and looking at its wall and two gates, the nearer Bab al-Nasr ("The Gate of Victory") and, barely visible at the far right, the Bab al-Futuh ("The Gate of Conquests"). All were built by a vizier, Badr al-Gamali, in 1087, about a century after the original city of al-Qahira was established by Gawhar al-Siqilli. That earlier city was a near square whose boundary on the north was enlarged by these later additions.

It's easy to dismiss a wall as just a stack of stone, but K.A.C. Creswell, in his monumental The Muslim Architecture of Egypt (1952) writes that these two gates, along with the surviving southern gate (the Bab Zuwayla, shown in the next chapter), "form one of the greatest masterpieces in the military architecture of Islam.... The masonry of the whole group is of a degree of perfection never again attained in Egypt" (vol. 1, p. 165).

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