Have you ever heard of El Moez Street? This video features some of the best amazing landmarks that sit in that vintage street in Cairo. Even the music has that tremendous tone that says a lot about the Egyptian culture. Apparently, there are so many mosques in El Moez Street. You may enjoy taking a stroll around the area and observe remains of the past.
THE BEAUTY OF CAIRO CITY
Egypt is popular for possessing more than a few historic landmarks. Cairo, in particular, has magnificent streets to wander. Some of them have actually been sitting there for a fairly old time. Ancient places are great at giving you a glimpse of what has once been taking place. You get to see buildings and walls where history happened. Among those streets and places lies El Moez Street. It is one of the oldest districts in Cairo, known as the Islamic District. This is actually the same area where Khan Al Khalili takes place. It is another popular area that attracts a great number of visitors every year.
HISTORY OF EL MOEZ STREET
As one of the oldest streets in the city, this street had witnessed lots of episodes since it was built. Being one of Cairo’s significant landmarks, El Moez Street possesses many historical buildings to visit. Most of them are actually mosques that came into being from the ancient times. In fact, the actual name of the street is El Moez Lidin Allah Al Fatimi. It’s easy to see why people commonly refer to it as El Moez Street; quite long and not that simple.
That magnificent street of El Moez is actually one kilometer long. It looks like an open-air museum with so much to behold. Holding many medieval architectural treasures, it is easy to anticipate that many tourists pass by. Most of what you will find there belongs to the Islamic World.
Undergoing Renovations and Developments
What you can see today is actually a renovated version of what it used to be. Back in 1997, the whole place underwent overhauls made by the government. And by the whole place, we actually mean restorations of the historical buildings sitting there as well as the pavements. This development has helped in making the place more comfortable and safer to roam around. That is because the street is open for pedestrians only from 8 in the morning until 11 at night. No heavy traffic to cause a mess in the street, but cargo vehicles can pass by outside this time frame. It has been going this way since 2008, making the area attractive and pretty as it has always been.
Popular Areas around El Moez Street
Surrounding the street are other magnificent landmarks. This actually includes Bab Zuweila from the south and Bab Al-Futuh from the North. The latter is actually the point where El Moez Street starts and goes all the way to the other end. Thus, the street is divided into two different sections, the southern part and the northern one. The southern part is the area where popular places lie, including the Gamaliya district that embraces the Tent Market. In the same part, you can also find the Ghuriya Complex just before Bab Zuweila. On the contrary, from the north, you can find Al-Hakim Mosque and the Spice Market. Between those two landmarks lies Al Azhar Street, which actually embraces the Spice Market rather than El Moez Street. This part possesses more than a few landmarks, including medieval mansions and the antique market. There also lie the Qalawun Complex and Al Aqmar Mosque; all historical buildings as well.
THE MAN BEHIND THE NAME OF THE STREET
We have already mentioned that the street’s full name is actually El Moez Lidin Allah Al Fatimi. In fact, this name belonged to a man that existed during the Fatimid dynasty. El Moez was actually the fourth caliph of the Fatimid dynasty. People used to describe him the Glorifier of the Religion of God, for he was a righteous man. He also happened to be the 14th Ismaili Imam and his ruling lasted for over two decades. El Moez was popular for being too powerful where his kingdom was pretty dominant at his time. Before his reign, the dynasty center lies in North Africa. However, he moved it all the way from North Africa to Egypt. During this dynasty when El Moez ruled, Cairo city came into being, becoming the new capital of the Fatimid Caliphate.
Despite being a Shia Muslim, El Moez actually had a high tolerance for different religions. He was so popular among people from other religious communities, including Jewish and Christians. In history books, descriptions about him always included his tremendous acceptance of people’s differences, especially in religions. Among his noteworthy achievements was the invention of the fountain pen. He was the very first to come up with the idea of a pen that neither stain clothes nor hands. Above and beyond, he was responsible for building several structures that we can see in the street nowadays.
The Etymology of the Name
Needless to say, El Moez is an Arabic name that was quite popular during the Islamic times. In fact, it is still used in the modern days in many of the Arab countries. El Moez’s full name was actually Abu Tamim Maad El Moez Ledin Allah Al Fatimi. Quite long, isn’t it? However, Al Fatimi was more of a description rather than the last name. It is an adjective that unravels the fact that he belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate. Obviously, El Moez Street is the easiest and simplest to use for a street name. It couldn’t work any other way.
THE HISTORICAL BUILDINGS FOUND ON EL MOEZ STREET
History had happened all around the world. It is actually amazing to learn about the places where it took place. For this one, we are quite sure that El Moez Street embraces a lot of events that once happened there. It is a place where history was made. Over and over, we have mentioned that the street possesses more than a few historical buildings. Those buildings don’t all belong to the Fatimid Dynasty. In fact, a lot of them belong to other eras, including Muhammed Ali Pasha’s reign, Ayyubid dynasty, Ottoman era, and more. You can even find a lot of those buildings featured in the video above. Now, it is time to learn about those historical structures standing strong to this time.
Al Azhar Mosque
One of the most prominent mosques in Cairo lies in El Moez Street. The mosque was constructed by El Moez Ledin Allah Al Fatimi when Cairo was newly established in 970. That makes it even one of the oldest mosque in Islamic history and in Egypt. In fact, it was even the first one to be built in Cairo. No wonder people refer to Cairo City as “The City of a Thousand Minarets.” It has a fair share of domed mosques all around the city, in general, and in El Moez Street, in particular.
Throughout the history, the mosque has gone through a lot. It was once among the congregational mosques in Egypt until some rulers shunned it and removed its congregational status. That was only until the Mamluk Sultanate arrived in Egypt to reverse all of those processes. They even expanded the mosque and overhauled it. The following rulers all took the same steps and even aided financially to upkeep the status of the mosque. Thanks to their efforts, Al Azhar Mosque survived. Besides, the institution of Al Azhar managed to keep up and become and the most influential Islamic institution in Egypt.
Al Hussein Mosque
Sayedna Al Hussein is what you are going to hear from the locals on the streets of Egypt. The word “Sayedna” means our master; in fact, Al Hussein was the grandson of Prophet Muhammed. This mosque that sits on El Moez Street was named after him. In fact, you may even realize that people call the surrounding area, Al Hussein. Near that mosque lies Khan Al Khalili, Cairo’s most popular bazaar. Al Hussein Mosque has been around since 1154 as one of the holy sites in Cairo.
After an archaeological excavation, experts found that there is a cemetery that sits below the mosque. It belongs to the Fatimid Dynasty where the caliphs of the era were buried. For some reason, some Muslims believe that the cemetery is not the only thing that exists under the mosque. They believe that Al Hussien’s head lies there as well. There was never any clear evidence for this claim, but they still frequently mention it.
Al Ashraf Mosque
Al-Ashraf Barsbay was the name of the guy behind that mosque in El Moez Street. Just like all the other structures around, it used to serve as both a mosque and a school. This mosque sits exactly at the intersection point between Jawhar Al-Qaed Street with El Moez Street. Sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay belonged to the Mamluk Dynasty. He constructed this structure in 826 AH along with other three mosques. It is actually quite captivating as its design consists mainly of marble and windows made of stained glass. Within the mosque, there is another rectangular-shaped complex that has an orthogonal layout.
Al Aqmar Mosque
Another popular mosque to find on El Moez Street is Al Aqmar Mosque. People usually refer to it as the Grey Mosque. We aren’t sure why exactly they call it that, but maybe the hue of the building is a bit greyish. On the other hand, Al Aqmar is an Arabic word that means the Moonlit. The story behind the name is quite mysterious as well. This mosque is nearly as old as the street itself. It has been around since the Fatimid Dynasty. The construction took place during the era of the Caliphate of Imam Al Amir Bi Ahkami. However, the builder of the structure was Al Ma’moun Al Batahi.
Truthfully, this mosque is quite unique in terms of decorations and design. It might as well be the only mosque in Cairo to ever introduce the geometric patterns to design. This makes the façade quite noticeable; you can help but appreciate the sight. The decoration is filled with geometric carvings as well as inscriptions. Such design was never introduced in Egypt before, so it helped in making the building momentous.
Mosque-Sabil of Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar
This building dates back to the era of Muhammed Ali Pasha in Islamic Cairo. You can find it situated at the starting alley of Burjouan in El Moez Street. The opposite side of the mosque overlooks Al-Nahasin Street. It also lies in the Islamic District of Old Cairo and extends to Bab Al-Shaareya Square. People also refer to it as Mosque Sabil-Kuttab of Sulayman. The building is actually adjacent to the other two structures, Sabil and Kuttab, which are important to Islam. Sabil is actually an Arabic word with a Turkish derivative, sebil. It refers to a small kiosk where the passers can freely dispense water when thirsty. Most of these structures date back to the Ottoman Empire. However, it sometimes refers to small fountains that’s purpose is to drink water from. This one may be attached to a mosque, but Sabils are found in many areas, including city squares and crossroads.
On the other hand, Kuttab is an Arabic word that means school. This word usually refers to the practice of teaching young children reading, writing, and Islamic studies. In some rare cases, children learned other subjects besides those three main elements. The learning process usually included a Sheikh whom children gathered around on the ground to learn. However, this is an old method of education in Egypt and Islamic communities. It is no longer carried out.
Wikala Al Sultan Qaitbay
The builder of this structure was Sultan Ashraf Abu Al Nasr Qaitbay. Apparently, the names at those times were fairly long. The building has been around since 1481 CE, lying around El Moez Street in Bab Al Nasr Street. They all belong in the same Islamic District of Old Cairo. This building was actually an inn where people to rest in during long trips. Even the word Wikala is the Arabic version of a resort or an inn. Besides, it used to be home to the real inhabitants of Cairo City. They used to reside there before all has changed.
On the other hand, what we see these days is quite different from how it used to look. Over the years, the structure has lost some of its architectural decoration and structure. Probably that was because the building endured abandonment for many years. Or, it could be the other way around, it was abandoned for looking a bit in the wreckage. Either this or that, we can hardly know the reason behind the damage caused. As luck would have it, it managed to stay among the noteworthy buildings of the Islamic area.
Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq
Another magnificent mosque in El Moez Street, Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq. The builder of this Islamic complex was Sultan al-Zahir Barquq, hence the name. He also made the complex serve a school for Islamic education. In other words, it was both a mosque and a kuttab, like most of the mosque in the same area. The building has a dome that makes it stand out among the other structures in the area. It dates back to the Circassian Dynasty of Mamluk; it is also the first architectural facility built at that time.
Sabil-Kuttab of Katkhuda
Here is one more building that includes two of the main structures in the Islamic culture. It encompasses an elementary Quran school and a water dispenser for the public. Adjacent to this Katkhuda building is a residential wing. This building is deemed to be among the prominent structures in El Moez Street. It has always been significant since its establishment back in 1744 by Abd Al-Rahman Katkhuda. To this day, many architects refer to it as “The Treasure of Ottoman Architecture.”
Bayt Al Suhaymi
Bayt Al Suhaymi is a structure that has been standing tall since the era of the Ottoman. It means the House of Suhaymi and the builder was Abdel Wahab El Tablawy. This building is a house museum that dates back to 1648 it used to have a different name. In 1796, Sheikh Ahmed Al Suhaymi bought the museum and called it Bayt Al Suhaymi. That family owned the house for long generations that people forgot what it was ever used to be called. Al Suhaymi made several renovations after buying the house. That included extending it significantly that he actually mingled the structure with the surrounding houses. Now, it looks like a huge building all made of the same unit when, in fact, this was not how it used to be.
Amir Jamal al-Din al-Ustadar Mosque
El Moez Street apparently has an endless collection of mosques; all equally interesting. Amir Jamal al-Din al-Ustadar Mosque is a historic building that dates back to 1407. Obviously, Amir Jamal al-Din was the builder of that mosque; he dedicated it to himself. He happened to be one of those who served under the Burji Mamluk Sultan Al Nassir. However, he faced execution by Sultan Al- Nassir with no mourning to his career. During that time, the Sultan wanted to take this mosque down to get rid of all what was left of Amir Jamal. However, the Judge halted his attempts, refusing to even erase Amir’s name.
Thanks to Sultan Al Nasir Muhammed Ibn Qalawun, Egypt has this exceptional structure that sturdily stands on El Moez Street. It dates back to 1280 and it holds grips of both a tomb and a hospital. The building had a different name before Sultan Qalawun bought it. Before its construction, there was another building, the Fatimid Palace, that turned into ashes. Right after, the building that we can see now came into being. Three years after the construction, Sultan Qalawun bought it and gave it the name that still exists ever since. Sultan Qalawun’s son, Al Nasir Muhammed, carried out several restorations when the building started to lose its brightness. Qalawun Complex is popular for being the center for different religious and ritual ceremonies.
Mosque Ibn Taghri
In Dar Al Maqasees neighborhood, you can find Mosque Ibn Taghri. It is another historical complex that belongs to the western palace. That palace belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate Al- Aziz; he dedicated this palace to his daughter. The part of the building that was dedicated to school has a rectangular shape with a fairly moderate size.
Al Hakim Bi Amr Allah Mosque
You thought the mosques were over around the street? Well, there is actually one more prominent mosque that sits in El Moez Street. It is quite noticeable for possessing two minarets; each on one side of the building’s façade. Regardless of the name, Saladin was the first to use this building before it became a mosque. He used it as a prison for the crusaders. Several years after that, the building was no longer of any use. Thus, Al Hakim turned it into a worshipping place. He was the sixth caliph of the Fatimid dynasty. People used to call him Al Anwar, meaning the well-educated or the illuminated man. After he turned the building into a mosque, it became associated with his name ever since.
Qasr is an Arabic word that means Palace. This building is known as the Palace of Bashtak. It is another historic palace that lies in El Moez Street. Besides, it is a museum as well. Mamluk Amir Bashtak was the builder of this palace; he builds back in the 14th century. That area in which the palace sits is called Bayn Al Qasrayn. Which means, between the two palaces; the latter refers to the Fatimid palaces that once stood in that place. Being too old to stand tall, the German Archaeological Institute and Constitute restored its remains in the 80’s. During these modern times, it’s one of the rare structures that have been surviving since the 14th century in Egypt.
Mosque of Abu Dahab
Just beside Al Azhar Mosque lies the Mosque of Abu Dahab. In fact, Amir Mohamed Beh Abu El Dahab was the one to make an order with the construction of the mosque. During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, he was one of Egypt’s leaders. Originally, the building was supposed to be a school that welcomes students of Al Azhar University. However, it became a mosque; one of the oldest mosques in Egypt. Actually, it was the fourth mosque in Egypt with an architecture of the Ottoman Style.
Most of the mosques in El Moez Street have domes. This one is no exception; its dome is even semi-squared. It sits just right above the praying area. People refer to it as the hanging mosque. This is because its construction took place just above the street level.
The Complex of Sultan Al-Ghuri
This huge complex has been around since the early 16th century. Being built by Sultan Qansuh Al Ghuri, it consists of Sabil, Kuttab, Mosque, Mausoleum, and Khanqah. Apparently, that is why it is a quite enormous building. You can find it at the Fahhamin Quarter in El Moez Street in Old Cairo.