New ISLAMIC ARECHEOLOGICAL TRAIL

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us." - Anonymous

New ISLAMIC ARECHEOLOGICAL TRAIL

New ISLAMIC ARECHEOLOGICAL TRAIL
01/04/2023

New ISLAMIC ARECHEOLOGICAL TRAIL

A new heritage trail exploring 12 Islamic monuments in the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district of Historic Cairo has been inaugurated.
 

 

To encourage local and international tourism in Historic Cairo and visitors to spend more time admiring the splendour of its magnificent monuments, a new tourist trail connecting 12 monuments from different Islamic periods has now been established to connect this wealth of historic buildings and ancient handicraft markets together.

The trail was built in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has helped in the restoration and conservation of several Islamic monuments, and with funds from the European Union.

Visitors start their journey at Al-Azhar Park, where a visitor centre welcomes them and introduces the trail and its monuments through a short film about each and the conservation work being done. Information about each monument is provided.

Electric cars then take visitors through the eastern Ayoubid walls around Al-Azhar Park and to the dome of the Emir Tarabay Al-Sharifi, the architectural complex of the Emir Khair Bek, the Blue Mosque, the Um Al-Sultan Shaaban School, the Qasabet Radwan, the Al-Razzaz House, the Qijmas Al-Ishaqi Mosque, the Al-Saleh Talaa Mosque, and the Ibn Barqouq Zawya (a small mosque).

Services along the trail have been developed including benches and sunshades as well as signage displaying information about each monument. QR codes are provided to enable visitors to know more about the history of every monument on the trail.

The tourist trail of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar will take visitors on a trip through history, allowing them to admire some of the most mesmerising monuments of Islamic Egypt from the Fatimid, Ayoubid, and Mameluke eras. The monuments include mosques, schools, complexes, palaces, and 700-year-old handicraft markets whose workers are as talented and skilled as ever.

Among the monuments are the following:

THE EASTERN AYOUBID WALLS

BAB AL-BARQIYA

This is a major gate in Cairo’s Ayoubid Walls constructed between 1171 and 1176 CE. It was covered in debris before its restoration and features a unique bent entrance design.

BORG AL-MAHROUQ TOWER

This is considered to be one of the most significant towers in the Ayoubid Walls.

THE ASLAM GATE

Also known as the “Burned Gate”, this is the third in importance of the gates of the eastern Ayoubid Walls.

The gate consists of two semi-circular towers, with shooting rooms in each. The towers once enclosed a passage with a bent entrance that was later completely demolished due to the modern constructions built above it. These were removed during the recent restoration and whatever remains from the original constructions has been revealed.

THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRIANGLE

Located on the eastern side of Al-Azhar Park, this was so named in 2000 due its shape and the presence of many monuments within it. The most significant are the rear facade of the eastern Walls of Salaheddin and the mudbrick remains of the earlier Walls of Gawhar Al-Siqili. There are also the remains of buildings of the Fatimid and Mameluke eras.

THE TARABAY AL-SHARIFI COMPLEX

Founded by the Emir Tarabay Al-Sharifi, one of the princes of the Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Nasr Qaitbay, the complex consists of a sabil and a dome with several rows of stalactites. In the middle of the southwest side is the main entrance of the dome, which is preceded by a double staircase. 

THE EMIR ALIN AQ PALACE

This was built by the Amir Alin Aq Al-Hossami in 1293 CE and is one of the few Mameluke private residences still conserved in Cairo. 

THE KHAIR BEK COMPLEX

This was built by the Emir Khair Bek in 1502 CE, one of the princes of the Sultan Al-Ghuri. 

AQ SUNQUR MOSQUE (BLUE MOSQUE)

This was constructed in 1347 CE by the Emir Shamseddin Aq Sunqur, a Mameluke of the Sultan Al-Nasir Mohamed Ibn Qalawun. It is located at an equal distance between the Bab Zuwayla and the citadel and was refurbished by the Ottoman prince Ibrahim Agha Al-Mustahfizan..

THE UM AL-SULTAN SHAABAN MOSQUE AND MADRASSA 

This is the only royal construction in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar.

THE BEIT AL-RAZZAZ

This is one of the most beautiful Mameluke and Ottoman houses in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar and dates back to Sultan Qaitbay’s rule.

THE AL-TANBUGHA AL-MARIDANI MOSQUE

This was built by Alaaeddin Altunbugha ibn Abdallah Al-Maridani, who began his career as a khassaki (imperial guard) and cup-bearer of the Mameluke Sultan Al-Nasser Mohamed ibn Qalawun. He started the construction in 1338-9 and finished it in 1340 CE.

THE AHMED AL-MIHMENDAR MOSQUE

This was built by the Emir Shehabeddin Ahmed Al-Mihmandar, who was the commander of the Egyptian army in the third period of the Sultan Al-Nasser Mohamed Ibn Qalawun’s rule. The building was initially organised as a school and as a khanqa (Sufi residence), but later the Amir Soliman al-Qazadoghli decided to build a minaret and a minbar and convert it into a mosque in 1722 CE.

THE MOSQUE OF QIJMAS AL-ISHAQI OR THE ABU HARIBA MOSQUE

This was built by Emir Qijmas Al-Ishaqi, one of the Mamelukes of the Sultan Qaitbay. Its alternative name, Abu Hariba, is inspired by Sheikh Abu Heriba, a local governor who was buried under the dome of the mosque in 1852. 

THE AL-SALEH TALAA MOSQUE

This was built by the Armenian Saleh Talaea Ibn Ruzik, who was a minister under the rule of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Faaez Bi-Allah. The building is located outside the gates of Fatimid Cairo and is considered the last mosque to be built in the Fatimid era. It is also the second Fatimid mosque to be built outside the walls of Cairo after the mosque built by the Caliph Al-Hakeem.

THE QASABAT RADWAN BEK (AL-KHAYIAMIA)

One of the main commercial places of the Ottoman era, it was established by the Amir Radwan Bek Al-Faqqari, one of the most important officials of the 17th century Ottoman period. Some of its shops are still in business.

THE ZAWYAT AND SABIL OF FARAJ IBN BARQOUQ

This is a small Sufi establishment that is noteworthy primarily for the lovely panels of inlaid polychrome stone on the exterior. It is likely there was originally a kuttab as well, but nothing of it survives.