Egypt: Cairo: other - Bab Zuwayla

Bab Zuwayla

Prior to about 1087, Cairo was not really much of a fortified city with its sun dried brick walls, though this weakness had demonstrated itself on occasions. That year, Badr ad-Din el-Gamali, the visor of El-Mustansir, employed three Syrian brothers from Edessa to build the three main gateways of the Fatimid wall made of stone which was to provide fortification. These massive gates are called the Bab (gate) el-Futuh, Bab an-Nasr and Bab Zuwaila.

Bab Zuwayla, sometimes called al-Mitwalli after El Kutb al-Mitwalli by some local inhabitants, defines the southern limits of the Fatimid City, though the city quickly moved beyond this gate. It is named after the al-Zawila, a Berber tribe whose Fatimid soldiers were quartered nearby. It is very similar in design to the other gates, but perhaps has a somewhat richer tradition. Here, the annual pilgrimage departed for Mecca, but here also, many an amir was hanged and Sultan Salim hung the last of the Mamluk sultans, Tumanbey from its entryway. Yet originally, musicians played every night from atop the gate.