One of the main streets in Old Cairo is Muizz Street, one of Egypt’s oldest streets and the best open-air museums. The Fatimid dynasty started the city in the 10th century when al-Muizz Li Din Allah was the fourth caliph.
In the past, it was the most crucial road in the city, and it was called the Qasaba (or Qasabah ). It was in the middle of the city’s financial districts, where most of the markets were.
Al Muizz Street in Cairo has more medieval architectural treasures than any other place in the Islamic world. It gives new meaning to words like majesty and beauty.
This is especially clear around al-Qasrayn, surrounded by some of the most important buildings in Islamic Cairo.
Muizz Street: A Brief Description
Al-Muizz Street goes from the Bab al-Futuh city gate in the north to the Bab Zuweila gate in the south. These are both entrances to Vizir Badr al-Jamali’s stone walls, built in the 11th century.
This makes it about a kilometer long, one of the longest streets in the walled city.
Even though al-Muizz Street is usually only the name for the street inside the historic walled city, the road from al-Muizz Street goes south for a few kilometers under different names.
We went through the Qasaba of Radwan Bey (al-Khayamiya) and ended up at the large Qarafa cemetery (the Southern Cemetery or the City of the Dead).
History of Muizz Street
The new Caliph al-Muizz started a vast project to rebuild the country. He fixed up the roads, fixed up the canal system that helped farmers in the Nile valley, and built the new capital, Cairo.
In 970, Jawhar was in charge of building a new city for the Fatimid caliphs to live in and use as a center.
The city was called al-Mu’izziyya al-Qaahirah, which means “City of Victory of al-Mu’izz.” It was later called “al-Qahira,” where the name “Cairo” comes from.
The city was northeast of Fustat, Egypt’s central city, and capital.
Jawhar planned the city to have two large palaces for the caliphs in the middle and a significant square called Bayn al-Qasrayn (“Between the Two Palaces”).
The city’s main street connected the north and south gates and through Bayn al-Qasrayn, between the palaces.
During this time in the city’s history, however, only the caliph, the army, state officials, and other people needed for the palace city to work could go to Cairo.
Under Salah ad-Din (also called Saladin), the city was opened to the public in 1171 and underwent many changes.
Over the next few hundred years, Cairo grew into a large city, surpassing the previous one, Fustat.
The Ayubid sultans and their successors, the Mamluks, were Sunni Muslims who wanted to eliminate the Shiite Muslims’ bad influence. They gradually tore down the hurtful buildings and institutions and replaced them with their own.
Salah ad-Din started building the Citadel to the south in 1176. This is where Egypt’s rulers used to live and be in charge.
Al-Azhar Street is a vital road built in the 20th century.
It goes from modern downtown Cairo in the west to al-Azhar to the Salah Salem highway in the east. This makes the traditional al-Muizz road much more difficult to use.
Al Muizz Street was built as the main street of the great Fatimid city and was named after the first Fatimid caliph in Egypt.
After the Fatimids, Ayubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman rulers took over Egypt. Most of the palaces, mosques, and monuments they built were on this street.
Al Muizz Street still has the highest concentration of Islamic art’s most important buildings and monuments.
From Bab al Futuh to Bab al Zuweila, this street runs through the heart of Islamic Cairo. This makes it easy to see why it is one of the most critical places in Islamic history.
In addition to several impressive monuments, the area is also home to the busy Khan el Khalili market, where hundreds of artists and merchants sell their goods.
Rehabilitation of Al Moez Street
Starting in 1997, the Egyptian government did a lot of work on the street’s old and new buildings, the pavement, and the sewers to make it look like an “open-air museum.”
On April 24, 2008, Al-Muizz Street was made a pedestrian-only zone from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; cargo traffic is allowed at other times.
One goal of the changes is to make the street look like it did when it was first built.
Buildings taller than the monuments were lowered and painted correctly, and the street was repaved like before.
Thirty-four monuments on the street and 67 near the road were fixed. On the other hand, the look of the street at night was made more modern by putting cutting-edge outdoor lighting in the buildings.
Top Things to See on Muizz Street
1- Bab al-Futuh
The Fatimids built the city walls in the 11th century. The “Gate of Conquests” is at the northern end of the city walls. They used stones from ancient Memphis, and the strong building had two round towers on either side. Imagine that when the barrel vault was built, the road under it was 5 meters lower than it is now.
2- Al-Hakim Mosque
Built between 990 and 1013, this mosque is one of the few from the Fatimid era to have kept its simple layout. It has a large courtyard surrounded by columns and a five-bay prayer hall.
3- Al-Aqmar Mosque
In 6-1125 CE, the Fatimid Minister Al-Ma’mun built the Al Aqmar Mosque in Cairo as a mosque for him. The mosque is near the palaces of the Fatimid Caliphate, and it is on al-Muizz Street, which used to be the main road and the heart of Cairo.
4- Bayt Al-Suhaymi
This is where the Sheikh of Al-Azhar lived. The beautiful building was built in 1648 and grew at the end of the 18th century. It is decorated with beautiful marble, tiles, and wood. The windows have beautiful wooden lattices that let light in from the courtyard garden. On hot summer days, the openings in the roof let the calm north wind into the house.
5- Al-Qalawun Mosque and Madrasa
After the Fatimids, the Mamluk sultans built a lot of mosques in Cairo. This one was built in 1279 and shows how Islamic art combines beautiful decoration with high-quality materials. Stucco, marble, porphyry, and mosaics compete outside and inside.
6- Khan al-Khalili
The best thing to do would be to go to Egypt’s biggest souk (bazaar). It goes from Muizz li-Din Allah Street to Saiyidna al-Hussein Mosque in the Arab part of the city. In addition to copper and leather handicrafts, the stalls are full of tourist goods. Still, the typical Eastern style is full of colors and smells. Prices are negotiated here, as they are in every market.
7- Mu’ayyad Mosque
It was built by the Mamluks in 1415 and is also known as the “Red Mosque.” It is the last mosque with a big gate. The gate building is decorated with stucco and black and white marble. The entrance, made of lime wood and has chased bronze plates on it, is framed by these decorations. The wings, which are 5.90 m high, are from the Sultan Hasan Mosque. The minbar and mihrab are both worth seeing. The mihrab has inlays of mother-of-pearl and ivory and is made of colored marble (pulpit with stairs).
8- Zuweila Gate
The gate was built in 1092, at the same time as the gates to the north. It has been beautifully fixed up. This was where people were put to death in public. In 1811, 500 Mamluks whose deaths Muhammad Ali had ordered were killed, and their heads were placed on spikes here. The 50-meter-high towers have 76 steps to the top, where you can see over the roofs of Cairo (panels). There is a painted ceiling from the 1800s right above the door.
9- Beshtak Palace
The palace was built around 1334. It has a beautiful 25-meter-high reception hall (qa’a), a central entrance (durqa’a), and side rooms.