Story & Photography by Salih Basheer
'Almarai', sans-serif !important is the most exciting city among all other Egyptian cities and one of the oldest cities in the world that still retains its oldest establishments. Walking through old 'Almarai', sans-serif !important is like entering a time machine in a science fiction film, the old fairy-like corridors of the city reveal historic stories flipping through the pages of a history book. 'Almarai', sans-serif !important is famous for its mosques, minarets and castles that reach for the clouds, it’s even nicknamed “the city of a thousand minarets”. Most of the famous mosques date back to the ancient Islamic eras, and are now famous tourist attractions. In this trip around old 'Almarai', sans-serif !important, I’ll reveal some essential landmarks for anyone interested in exploring old 'Almarai', sans-serif !important.
One of the most beautiful mosques that you can ever visit; as soon as you enter the courtyard of the mosque you’ll feel the spirituality and tranquility. The mosque is located in the Jamaleya neighborhood on Al Muiz Ldin Allah Al Fatmi Street and was built in 380 (H) during the reign of Al-Aziz Billah, who died during its establishment, thus the construction was carried on by his son and therefore attributed to him.
Blue Mosque (also called The Aqsunqur Mosque)
This is one of the mosques that feature beautiful architecture and blue tile carvings covering the wall off the dome, which inspired the name. The mosque is in the neighborhood of Darb al-Ahmar and was created in 1347 by the Prince Aqsunqur.
Shown below in the background, Al-Azhar Mosque is the most famous and most important mosque in 'Almarai', sans-serif !important. It was constructed by Jawhar when 'Almarai', sans-serif !important was conquered more than a thousand years ago. Al Azhar is one of the first mosques that were established in 'Almarai', sans-serif !important, and it is currently under restoration.
I stopped to take some pictures of the massive crowd of people during the celebration of the birth of Prophet Mohammad. It was an enjoyable and memorable experience, as the celebrations brings Sufi orders from all the Egyptian governorates in a bone chilling procession covering over a kilometer, from Al-Jaafari mosque towards Al-Hussein mosque.
Salah al-den al-ayobi’s Castle
From Opera Square I went on my way towards the Citadel of Saladin al-Ayoubi, and let me tell you it is one of the most luxurious military castles built in the Middle Ages. Located on the Mokattam high plateau, the Citadel is visible from anywhere in the city center. The Castle Dome of Mohammed Ali Pasha Mosque is located inside the castle along with several monuments, shrines and archaeological museums which you can visit and enjoy while listening to a tour guide narrate the history of the place and the antiquities inside the museum. The Citadel includes several museums, including the Military Museum and the Museum of the police. The Police Museum houses the weapon that was used in the attempted assassination of President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the famous incident of Mansheya in Alexandria, as well as weapons and bullets that were used in the murder of Sir Lee Stack in the streets of 'Almarai', sans-serif !important. The museum also includes pictures of the assassin sisters Raya and Sakina, who were the first two women to be executed in Egypt.
Navigating through the religious landmarks in old 'Almarai', sans-serif !important opens one’s appetite to learn more about 'Almarai', sans-serif !important’s mysterious and rich history and explore different historic periods. I wrapped up the day’s adventure with a cup of tea on the bank of the Nile Corniche, promising myself to do another exploratory trip soon.