Scotsabroad's Weblog

May 11, 2008

In, Out and About Al Qahira

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 4:32 pm


Last weekend we were in Old Cairo. On Friday we walked into Al Qahira where the first walls and gates of this new city were completed by 970. Khan-al-Khalili is at the heart of this district (the tourist bazaar) and the place to buy treasure, junk or tat. Al Qahira’s gates, mosques and streets are treasures- only recently being acknowledged by the Egyptian authorities and restored. We drove to the Khan and walked from Midan al-Husayn up a street called El-Gamaleya towards the northern gates. We came to Bab el-Nasr and walked the fortifications to reach Bab al-Futuh. Cairo was very interested in the arrow slits and the shafts above Bab el-Futuh used to pour burning oil on those below. Incredibly, both gates are still busy thoroughfares into this part of the city. The Mosque of El-Hakim is just inside Bab al-Futuh and is quite beautiful. The boys and I entered the inner courtyard where Lucas had a great time scattering a large flock of pigeons. Al-Hakim was one of Cairo’s most notorious leaders, a bampot, but he did order that all the dogs in the city be exterminated as their barking annoyed him. Oh, to have this power. He eventually went for a night ride up in the Moqattam Hills and was never seen again.

We turned back towards the Khan following El-Moezz Street and looking out for a recently restored house called Bayt al-Sihayma. This 300 year old merchant’s house is actually two (some books say three) houses that were joined together, the older house dating back to 1648. The bathroom was fantastic. Coloured glass shapes in the domed ceiling and proper plumbing. I could see myself showering and shaving there. Cool place.


By this time we were wilting, hot and hungry.

We walked towards the Khan and a cafe named after the famous Egyptian writer, Naguib Mahfouz. Walking down El-Moezz Street was incredible, like being inside a David Robert’s painting, with many striped mosques and buildings, while dodging modern day traffic. Mosques very noisy being a Friday.

 Revitalised we shopped a bit in the Khan. 

Cairo for Dummies?



  1. Cairo is certainly not for dummies! Great photos and information about Cairo – you must really know your way around now.
    Well done.

    Comment by Linda — May 11, 2008 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  2. Can’t stop laughing at the contrast between Cairo’s interest in the architecture and Lucas’s interest in chasing birds!

    Comment by Wendy — May 14, 2008 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  3. The architecture in Cairo is fantastic, it really is like a city thats been undisturbed by modern planners for soooo long. Those gates are awesome, the keystones have to be unique and still used to this day!!! Built to last or what?

    Comment by gordon — June 21, 2008 @ 1:19 am | Reply

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