Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Gate of The Conqueror

We parked the car at the usual parking spot when we go to Al-Hossein area and Khan-El-Khalily. We walked up that street that would eventually take us to Al-Hossein but on the other side of the street. We weren’t going to Al-Hossein though as we usually do. And I actually had no idea where we were going! My friend decided to take me to a tour of old Cairo; a very brief tour unfortunately. But he decided we end it here, I had no idea where “here” was.

We took a left down a narrow old street full of old shops on both sides. It was so crowded, lots of people buying and selling and walking around, mostly all Egyptians, no tourists! We walked down the street which was as old as Cairo itself, the buildings were all made of really old stones, some still had some color and carvings on them. The old wooden windows with the arabesque carvings all over them were so beautifully crafted; I could almost feel the women sitting behind them, watching the street from the safety of their old homes. I was fascinated, so this is the Cairo I’ve been living in all my life, this is its true face that I was never able to see under all the smog. We kept walking, went into some mosques and exhibitions. We saw all these beautiful sites in one street, and I still had no idea the surprise I had in store for me.

The texture of the ground was changing, it was now ancient cobblestone. The buildings around looked less like buildings and more like giant brick walls, not so many windows now. A minute later, we reached the end of the street. We walked through a giant gate with huge wooden doors enforced with huge metal studs. We turned and looked up. This will always be the most magnificent site I have ever seen in my life. It was the gate of ancient Cairo, the gate of the Conqueror!
Bab Zuweila Gateway MinaretsThe gate was huge, the wooden door was just a tiny portion in relation. It was enclosed in a huge stone arch. There were two tall minarets on each side of the gate. The stone was covered in beautiful Islamic engravings up to the very tip of the twin minarets. This is “Bab Zuweila”, the southern gate of Cairo. I’ve always heard about it, it is all over the history books! But to see it is a totally different story. I could almost feel the ancient enemies of Egypt; armies upon armies, marching to Cairo and having fear strike their hearts as they stand across from this magnificent building. All those travelers who passed through this gate once upon a time must have felt deep respect for Cairo and all the people living in it. I can’t remember how long we stood there, looking up. It was dusk and the shadows only made Bab Zuweila more magnificent, scarier even.
I finally came out of my trance. I stood under the arch and touched the stone. I was touching a building that was almost a thousand years old. At that moment, I was touching history, and I fell in love with Cairo, The Conqueror.

Did you like this?

No comments:

Post a Comment