Sunday, October 07, 2007

A walk from Khan El Khalili to the North Wall

I loved opening my mail this morning! Look what a good friend sent me!

With instructions - print, shred, and add milk!

print shred and add milk.jpg

I have been chuckling for hours!

We went for a walk yesterday. Cairo is cooling down now and it is bearable to walk longer distances, and pleasant to meander. Mind you - the temperature did not really stop me going out before, but there was a sense of girding up my loins and bracing myself as I walked into the wall of heat. There is nothing elegant about being sweaty and I hate it.

The papers, for some time, have been printing stories about 'Thoroughfare' - a walk which many of us have been doing for ages, but which Cairo has been putting real work into. the road has been dug up completely, new drains inserted, and repaved! Usually in Cairo these things get about halfway through and stay that way so for the next few years people are avoiding large mountains of earth which become the dumping ground for garbage.

Anyway, we took the morning to have a look. It was inferred that lots of things which have been closed all of the time I have been here are now open. Well - most of them weren't, though they are undoubtedly cleaner and clearer to look at the outside. I have been looking forward to such to the Textile Museum, but now it seems that there will be no hope - it is still firmly closed for reconstruction and when I complained that they had had three years the girl smiled and said "Maybe another two?"

Anyway - this is a photo essay! Long essay - longish walk and I could not decide what to cut out! I cannot believe I have not even talked about Libya and Tunisia either!

IMG_9063.JPGIt is early, and a Friday morning, and most of the shops are still closed in Ramadan at 9.30am

IMG_9058.JPGThis door was on an old Wikalat behind the little gold souk off to the side of the main walk. We were wandering down quiet alleys, delighting in the fact that people were few and those out still looked sleepy. These little doors inside a big one allowed camels to be kept inside and people to move in and out.

IMG_9065.JPGA junk shop was putting out is treasures, and I loved the little blue bedhead. Oddly enough we saw another one later.

IMG_9066.JPGI liked the pattern in this grill on the mosque at the beginning of the walk. I know swastikas have such unfortunate connotations now - but liked the way they reverse in this pattern. Note the name of Allah repeated in the centre.

IMG_9068.JPGAnother grill, with the bars plastic wrapped, Christo style!

IMG_9074.JPGAnd a really stunning door, brass clad. This mosque was closed. I have heard it is the most beautiful of all - the most spectacular internal space - so I have my fingers crossed that the two weeks they assured us was the opening date will not stretch into six months.


This is the minaret for the Mosque, madrasa and mausoleum mentioned above - Al-Nasir Mohamed (built 1304). The detail is the little bit to the right of the base - simply blown up from a shot I took from the other side of the road and about three storeys lower! It is stunning carved fret-work.


Door of the next mosque and a detail - to show the beautiful silver inlay

IMG_9083.JPG ...the shelter over the pool

IMG_9085.JPG .. and another beautiful door off the courtyard

IMG_9086.JPG...lamps and shadows

IMG_9090.JPG...the window over the door

IMG_9099.JPG...looking out from inside

IMG_9096.JPG...and up!

IMG_9103.JPG...lamps in the entrance


Tired, and Ramadan is hard - detail is just enlarged from the original

IMG_9106.JPGThe sabil-kuttub where the street divides - these beautiful buildings are distinctive for Old Islamic Cairo - the well below, the school for young children above. Mothers can bring their children and take water for the home, then return to collect them and another load of water.


Big door to a large wikalet, now mostly gone - and a detail



IMG_9168.JPG...home among the onions


Copper tips for minarets, and blood on the wall from the last Eid


Hessian bags from the supplier



IMG_9166.JPGThe tinsmiths


IMG_9172.JPGIMG_9173.JPG...people and produce


IMG_9191.JPG...sweet potato roaster and onions


and still more onions


A tiny gem of a Fatimid Mosque - note the curling grapes and leaves on the text, and these shapes are distinctive for Fatimids.


Because I liked the compositions


More junk


Sidecar in front of another sabil-khuttub and shadows on stone


Stacked cardboard boxes for shoes




Doors -and windows

That is it for now. In the interests of all of us I edited - a lot - from the 187 photos I took. It is so hard to take a bad photograph in Cairo. Well done if you made it this far.
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