Antiquity News for June 7th 2001
By Amargi Hillier
Life Returns to the Bazara Establishment
(Cairo) Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady, recently re-opened the historical Bazara Establishment. Renovation of this unique site took a total of four years. The Bazara Establishment is located in the Gamaya area of Cairo, within the heart of Khan El-Khalili. This area features a vast range of Islamic monuments making it suitable as an open museum.
Prince Hassan founded the Bazara Establishment as Khakata El-Kidia, and residents in the area still call the establishment by that name. It was re-named later to the Bazara Establishment after Mohammed Bazara, the famous soap and coffee bean trader. It was mainly a commercial site, featuring shops of various kinds supplying trade and wares to the people of the area.
The Bazara Establishment consists of two parts. The first part is an old commercial center consisting of the ground floor and first floor. The site is planned out in a square shape, with a large open center area with the shops on all four sides of the open square. The second section of the Bazara is a residential wing consisting of two floors (above the commercial area). Each residential unit consists of a first floor containing the entrance, a small kitchen, a hall and a staircase. The sleeping quarters were found on the level above.
The October 1992 Cairo earthquake left a great deal of damage to the building as well as pronounced moisture damage. Renovations included clearing the surroundings from debris and rebuilding the walls, floors, and a complete restoration of the doors and windows. A touch of modernization was added to the Bazara which includes a lighting system and electrical system within each room.
There are two entrances into the Bazara. One is on the North side of the site featuring an impressive massive wooded double door. The other entrance on the South side is much smaller is size and was used for only residents of the Bazara.
Although now open, the Bazara will not support tourists or visitors until after a few more weeks. All rooms in the Bazara are currently empty and may or may not contain examples of the shops present during the heyday of the Bazara in old times. Nevertheless, the Bazara offers a remarkable example of quality restoration efforts and the Islamic architectural beauty of the site is quite interesting.