High taxation and bad governance by the Ikhshidid Abbasids, who had governed Egypt from 905 AD, had devastated the area and its capital, Fustat when the Fatimids gained control in 969 AD. The Fatimids quickly went about consolidating their control over Egypt and its people.
The new caliph, Al-Muizz, launched a massive construction project, rebuilding roads, reconstructing the canal system that supported agriculture in the Nile Valley, and creating a new capital, Al-Qahira. The Fatimids were Shi’a Muslims who wanted to spread their version of Islam over the borders of the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate, and they built Al-Qahira to rival the prestige of the Abbasid capital, Baghdad, establishing the groundwork for modern Cairo.
Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah Street, named after Egypt’s first Fatimid Caliph, was created as the major street through the Fatimid metropolis, and while most of the Fatimid capital was demolished when successive Sunni Caliphates recovered power, Muizz Street kept its prominence. Many of the palaces, mosques, and monuments erected by the Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman monarchs who ruled Egypt after the Fatimids were built along this path through the city center.
Today, Al-Muizz Street has the highest density of major Islamic monuments anywhere in the world.
It is one of the most significant sites in Egypt’s Islamic history, running the length of Islamic Cairo’s main axis from Bab Al-Futuh in the north to Bab Zuweila in the south. In addition to the spectacular landmarks dispersed throughout its length, it also houses a lively community, which is home to hundreds of artisans creating items to be offered in Khan Al-Khalili, which signals the street’s midway. A trip along this avenue, followed by a stroll through the network of stores in Khan Al-Khalili, is a must-do during any visit to Cairo.
Al-Muizz Street allows visitors to see both the heritage of Islamic Cairo and the new area that coexists with this aged architecture. The (northern) section of the street between Bab Al-Futuh to Azhar Street (next to Khan Al-Khalili) has just been repaired. The southern portion of the road is still being restored, making it more difficult to visit.
Al-Muizz Street’s well-known landmarks include:
Cairo’s gates, erected in the Fatimid dynasty in Byzantine architecture style, represent the commencement of stone construction in Cairo. Bab Al-Futuh is a short walk west of Bab Al-Nasr and near Al-Hakim Mosque. The Gate of Conquest, also known as Bab Al-Futuh, is the northernmost of Cairo’s three remaining ancient gates. It used to be the city’s northern entrance. The towers of Bab Al-Futuh, like those of Bab Zuweila, are circular and artistically adorned.
Bab Al-Nasr means “Victory Gate,” and it is one of Cairo’s oldest gateways. It was built in 1087 as one of the northern gateways to Fatimid Cairo. In contrast to the cylindrical towers of Bab Zuweila and Bab Al-Futuh, the two towers of Bab Al-Nasr are rectangular, with Byzantine influences. Many of the stones used to build these gates were from Pharaonic structures, and if you look hard, you could even see some hieroglyphs.
Mosque of Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah:
It is situated near Bab al-Futuh, at the early part of Al-Mo’ez Street. Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah, a notoriously bizarre caliph, ordered its construction in 990 AD. The sanctuary’s most impressive features are its minarets, which are the oldest “left alive” minarets in Cairo, and the mosque’s remarkable entrance, which resembles a propylon, an Ancient Egyptian structural feature.
Al Aqmar Mosque:
Al Aqmar Mosque, located on El Moez Street, is one of the most magnificent and oldest structures in ancient Islamic Cairo. This modest but distinctive mosque on Al-Muizz Street is one of the earliest structures in Islamic Cairo. The Fatimids, who governed Egypt from 969 until 1171, built Al-Qahira, the walled city that now serves as the heart of Islamic Cairo. They invaded Egypt and established their Shi’a Islamic philosophy as the official religion, originating in modern-day Tunisia.
The architectural elements of the Al-Aqmar Mosque, also known as the Moonlight Mosque, are distinctive. It was Cairo’s first mosque to employ an offset façade, which allows the facade to appear square to the street front while the rest of the structure stands at an inclination, aligning with the qibla, or direction of prayer toward Mecca.
Bayt (House of) Al Suhaymi:
The Darb Al-Asfar (the Yellow Way), where Bayt Al-Suhaymi is located, became one of Cairo’s wealthiest streets, as well-heeled residents battled for land along “the Palace Walk,” the moniker given to Al-Muizz Street in Naguib Mahfouz’s novel of the same name. Bayt Al-Suhaymi, constructed in the 17th century, was one of Cairo’s most opulent residences.
This home was restored in the last decade after falling into ruin throughout the twentieth century, and it is now a stunning specimen of medieval Cairo’s best Islamic architecture.
The Palace of Prince Bashtak:
Beshtak Palace is one of the last remaining homes from the spacious period of Mamluk royals in the 14th century. In 1334–1339, Prince (Amir) Beshtak Al-Nasirione of al-Nasir Muhammad’s close khassakiya amirs and his son-in-law built the Qasr where the Eastern Fatimid palace once stood. The windows in Beshtak Palace are unusually decorated with mashrabiyya screens. However, the second floor, with its sharp arches, stained-glass windows, and gilt-decorated wood paneling, distinguishes it as one of the most breathtaking private chambers of the time.
Mosque of Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar:
This mosque is at the outset of Haret Burjouan of Al-Moez Street. Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar, who constructed it in 1839 AD, was given the name. The mosque is renowned for its pencil-shaped minaret, as well as its lovely circular sabil and outstanding fountain.
Mosque and School of Sultan Barqouq:
It is on Al Moez Street, between Al Kamilyia School and the Nasser Mohammed Mosque. Al-Zaher Abu Said Barqouq designed it with a central courtyard surrounded by four iwans in the orthodontic school system Style. Eng. Ibn Al-Tulun designed and coordinated it, and he decorated it with incredible engravings.
Sultan Al Mansur Qalawun Mosque:
The Sultan Qalawun complex, constructed in 1284 by Sultan Al Mansur Qalawun, is one of the most well-known historical structures on Shari’ El-Muizz Boulevard. Within its boundaries are a Mosque, a Medersa, a Mausoleum, and a Maurista. In the 1920s, Mauristan was demolished and replaced by a modern hospital. The structure is built in the style of the Mamluks at the period. The external windows of the entire complex are influenced by Gothic architecture, which Sultan Qalawun was familiar with from Crusader cathedrals.
The complex is located in the center of Islamic Cairo, in a neighborhood known as Bayn Al-Qasreen, or “Between the Two Palaces,” after the two Fatimid palaces that formerly stood here. These palaces, like the majority of Fatimid structures in the city, were demolished by later monarchs seeking to undo the Shi’a dynasty’s influence. Qalawun’s compound was really built on the foundation of one of these palaces.
The Ghouriyya Complex is located immediately south of Al-Azhar Street, near the start of the southern portion of Al-Muizz Street, which leads to Bab Zuweila. The tomb that Al-Ghuri erected for himself is located on the east side of the roadway. His remains were tragically lost in combat with the Ottomans and were never buried there.
The facility was designed to be a one-of-a-kind, multi-use environment. It housed not only the mosque and the tomb, but also a Sabil that gave free water to the populace, administrative space, and a covered market. Although some of the ancient structure has been removed, the Wikila Al-Ghuri still exists to the east of numerous newer structures.
The Sultan Al-Mu’ayyad Abu Al-Nasir Sheikh Al-Mahmoudi built the Al-Mu’ayyad Mosque on al-Mo’ez Street near Bab Zewailah. It is constructed of various colors of marble, which are visible in the decoration of the walls, ceilings, and floors, reflecting its magnificence.
Bab Zuweila is situated on the southern end of Al-Moez Ladin Allah Street, opposite the Al-Salih Talaye Mosque. BabZuweila was erected by the Fatimid vizier Badr al-Jamali and is called after the Zuweila tribe, one of North Africa’s Berber tribes. Bab Zuweila is the gate through which the heads of the Apostles of Hulaku, the Tatar leader, were suspended.