Sunday morning from gate to gate of the Old Islamic City of Cairo

A very early start had us walking from El Hussien Mosque towards Bab el Nasr. Eerily quiet with the shops and businesses closed as its a Sunday, it was strange to see the buildings which are usually obscured by the wares on display. As we progressed it was clearer to see how much of the area is crumbling with advanced age. Hardly surprising as the area dates back to the first century AD and has either been neglected or built onto in a totally unregulated and haphazard manner over the centuries.

We felt as though we had the place to ourselves as there was hardly anyone on the streets and it was so quiet we could actually hear birds chirping!

Walking out through Bab el Nasr we noted the slow progress on the restoration of the Wikala of Qait Bey.

Turning right we walked for a little along the old walls of Cairo before turning back to enter the old city again by Bab el Fatouh.

The area in front of Al Hakim mosque was devoid of its usual chaos

but full of youngsters either taking advantage of the quiet and playing football or generally socialising.

Puppet display in front of Om Khalsoum cafe (which was closed!)


Sabil-Kuttab of Abd al-Rahman Katkhuda

As we progressed along the street we noticed an army of cleaners cleaning up the area, washing down the pavements and generally keeping the area clean.

Veering off our usual path we took a side road left past Bayt al Sihaymi and discovered another restored mosque

and through an arch to Beit el Mal street/ Khan Ghafaar.

Here we were passed by a group of Asian tourists, more interested in their selfies than anything the guide had to tell them!

We did wonder why guides would take tourists through the area on a Sunday morning when everything is closed, although we were quiet enjoying it, but then the area is like an old friend to us!

We noted more and more tourists, mostly with private guides as we entered the popular lanes of Khan el Khalili biding our time until the Naguib Mahfouz cafe opened at 10am.

When eventually it did open we took respite in some mint tea and felafel, although the bread was certainly not up to its usual standard, maybe we were too early!

Taking advantage of the good weather and lack of people we decided to walk to Bab el Zaweela and beyond the walls of the old city to the street of the tentmakers.

Al Azhar mosque

Al Ghuri cultural centre

Here a few shops were beginning to open and set out their wares.

Sabil Madrassa of Mohamed Ali

Bab el Zwyela

Wikala and Sabil Khattab of Nafisa al Bayda

From outside of the walls

The tentmakers were also on a day off and as we neared the end of their shops we noticed the wooden ‘scaffolding’ between two buildings, seemingly holding them both from collapsing.

Street of the tentmakers

Walking back we took a side road past the El Ghouri complex and discovered an enormous covered market selling just about every fruit and vegetables imaginable, with butchers shops displaying all manner of parts of the animals which will make a variety of traditional Egyptian meals.

By now it was time to make our way back across the road to our favourite fateer restaurant Egyptian Pancakes for brunch.

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