Sunday, October 09, 2005

Walking in old Islamic Cairo

There is an area between the tourist den of the Khan El Khalily and the North Wall of the old city that is decreed a World Heritage area. You keep walking past all the touts of the souq. We were clever enough to go on 6th October which is a major public holiday here, celebrating a brief but glorious victory over Israel. It is also a bridge – as is the 26th July. I am always getting the two confused and that is difficult since I keep ending up in the wrong place because of the sheer impossibility of remembering dates.

The 6th October in the first week of Ramadan is spectacularly deserted in the old city. There were just a few hopeful silver shops open (enough to do a little damage for my house guests), and a few street sellers. Because it is Ramadan all the food and drink stalls are off the streets until almost 5.30 pm when they are out in force. My friends bought some beautiful pieces, simple Tuareg and Ethiopian crosses, and a couple of lovely pieces in the style of Siwa Oasis – strongly African in design.

We kept walking beyond the tourist areas and into a marvellous maze of narrow streets. Overhanging windows are covered in meshrabiya – the wooden grills which allowed women to see without being seen. They project out over the road allowing tiny spots of intense dark shade. It is hot in full sun, though Cairo is now cooling down.

There are such beautiful mosques in this area, and all the more interesting because they loom up as you come around the corners of muddy little streets, with rubbish building up at the edges and no expectation of the stark beauty of carved stone.

I am posting a series of photographs of this walk. I will let them speak for me.

A sabil-kitab. the bottom was a water source for the village women,
like a well, or a deep pool kept full of clean water. The top was a
school for small children. 'Sabil' is well, 'kitab' a book.

Click on any of the photos below to see a set of all the photos from our walk.
Blood on the walls RIMG5983.JPG


Blogger Helen from Canberra said...

Hi Jenny,
Thank you once again for the lovely photos. I must say I am very curious about the Blood on the Wall. The Barquq mosque looks just beautiful. That gorgeous deep blue seems to be a predominant colour in that part of the world. We are having lovely spring weather in Canberra, 10o overnight and an expected max. of 18o today. The countryside is looking truly wonderful after the rain the brown has become magically emerald green.

Regards Helen

9:53 am  

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