Saturday, November 03, 2007

Islamic monumental complexes restored in Cairo

The Khayrbek and Umm Al-Sultan Shaaban monumental complexes, two of the finest examples of Islamic mediaeval architecture in the Darb Al-Ahmar district of Cairo, have been restored. Nevine El-Aref was at the opening ceremony.

Traffic was barred from Bab Al-Wazir Street in the Darb Al-Ahmar district last Friday night as journalists and TV crews joined government officials at the Khayrbek complex to await the arrival of Prince Karim Aga Khan and Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, who would announce the inauguration of the Khayrbek and Umm Al-Sultan Shaaban complexes after five years of restoration.

Local residents wearing customary traditional dress stood on their balconies overlooking the street to watch, while children in the alley clapped happily and sang folk songs.

The Khayrbek complex was named after the first of Egypt's Ottoman governors, Emir Khayrbek, and was built in stages during the Mameluke and Ottoman periods. It contains five monuments: the Alin Aq Palace, the Khayrbek Mosque and Mausoleum, the Janim Al-Hamzawi sabil (water fountain) and the two Ottoman houses belonging to Ibrahim Mustafazan.

The neighbouring Umm Al-Sultan Shaaban monument, which was built by the Mameluke Sultan Shaaban for his mother Khwand Baaraka in 1368, comprises a mosque, two madrassas (religious schools), a kuttab for children (Quranic school), two mausoleums, a sabil and a water trough for animals.