Scotsabroad's Weblog

May 20, 2009

Staying cool in al-Qahira

Filed under: Cairo,School,School trips — scotsabroad @ 6:00 pm

Husayn Shade

It has turned hot. A few weekends ago we were down in al-Qahira to check out an old house situated between the al-Husayn Mosque and Bab al-Futuh. This meant a visit to the Khan during a Friday afternoon and we got to see the enormous mechanical shades outside the al-Husayn Mosque in operation. Many mosques can’t accommodate all those wishing to attend Friday prayers and worshippers spill out on to the streets surrounding the building to listen to the sermon on loud speakers while sitting on matting. To provide welcome respite to those wishing to attend al-Husayn Mosque three beautiful shades are opened outside the mosque. Somehow they just compliment the centuries old structure. I think they are beautiful. Coming out of the Khan on our way back to the car they had been folded away.

Al QahiraIMG_1734mashrabiya

As a family we visited Bayt al-Sihaymi last year. I now wanted to take my Year 1 classes to see the house as part of their current unit of inquiry. We went on Sunday and were all pleasantly surprised at how quiet al-Qahira was at 10 o’clock in the morning. We got dropped off at Bab al-Futuh and walked by the al-Hakim Mosque down deserted streets. The house is magnificent. Some parts date back to the 1700s. It has been beautifully (and authentically) restored. The children let out a few ‘wows’ while walking around, especially when they saw the bathroom ceiling, the toilet, the stained glass and the coffee grinder! The mashrabiya (wooden windows) allowed a cooling breeze to filter through the house. We ventured in to one of the rooms and I asked the children to close their eyes and tell me what they could hear. Almost in unison they said, birdsong. High 30s outside and we were cool. The builders must have been geniuses.

Bayt pictures


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