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Gates to the Ancient City of Cairo

Cairo was called the citadel or tabia or forte, i.e. stronghold. It looked like a square; 1200m2 in length and 1100m2 in width. It was surrounded with El Bahr El Azeim (the great sea) from the east, the gulf from the west, from the north gardens extended to Mataria and the mount Gabal El Guishi from the south. When the Fatimid reign (969-1171) settled in Cairo under the leadership of El Moez Li-Dinellah it was called "Cairo of El Moez" because they decorated its four suburbs with luxurious buildings, delightful spots and gardens. This increased its delightfulness and beauty. It was the settlement of rulers and princes.

El Fostat city was big and important due to plenty of buildings, many people and much of livelihood means, that is why Gawhar El Sakaly was so keen on it. He established the fortified gates (bab) and installed them around it in the four-sided wall. He built El Kantara at Bab El Shairia Street. He also built a wall to quickly surround the Palace. But this was destroyed completely.

Multi purposes

Those gates did not only defend the country against enemies, but were built also for management and administrative purposes. No one was allowed to enter Cairo or stay there except for its residents, or those who go in for certain reasons and in daytime only. Al-Khayameya street leading to Bab Zuweila The prince of armies, Badr El Gamali, in 1087, built Bab El Fetouh, Bab El Nasr and Bab Zuweila - all were built of storeys. Cairo gates at that time were eight on each side.

Saladin El-Ayoubi built the third wall in 1171. He wanted to surround Cairo, Misr El Kadeima Citadel with one wall extended from Bab El Kantara till Bab El Shairia, from Bab El Shairia to Bab El Bahr, from El Makasi Citadel at the end of the northern wall to the River Nile beside El Makasi Mosque. Saladin wished that this wall would join with the one from Bab El Nasr to El Zafar Tower, then on to Bab El Barkia, then Bab El Wazir.

Unfortunately, all such dreams did not come true, due to Saladin's death. Some of Cairo Gates still exist and others are no more.

Bab El Bahr

Bab El Bahr was one of the outside Cairo gates at the end of its northern wall from the western side. Bab Al-Wazir street

It was built in 1174 by Bahaa El Din Qaraqush, Saladin's Minister, to defend the capital and surround all of it to the eastern Nile bank. It was destroyed during the reign of Mohamed Ali.

It was known as El Makashi Gate or El Makasi, because it was located in El Makas village, that was called El Makesen and then called Bab El Bahr, as it overviewed the Nile, then was called Bab El Hadid. It was situated at the entrance of El Bahr Street from the Ramsis Square.

Bab El Barkia, 1st gate

It was established by Gawhar El Sakaly, when the first wall was established. It was called Bab El Ghareeb. It was destroyed in 1936 and replaced by Al Azhar University.

Bab El Barkia, 2nd gate It was built by Saladin in 1184 in the eastern Cairo wall which was located in the Eastern Desert with the aim of widening Cairo from the eastern side. El Bab El Gadid

It was established in 1170 in the eastern wall overlooking the desert. It was situated at a distance of 150m south of El Zafar Tower. It was the third gate and it still remains in the eastern wall between Bab El Barkia and Bab El Makhrouk.

Bab El Husseinia

It was built on the head of the road that connected between Bab El Fetouh of El Geish Square which is known nowadays as El Husseinia Street and El Bayouin Street. This gate was destroyed in 1895.