Al Ghouria complex, Wekalet El Ghouri

Posted On : 03/03/2023 Kate Clark 50
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Built in the early 16th century in what is now Sharia al-Muizz by Sultan Qansuh el Ghouri, this building bears witness to the grandeur of Cairo, when it rivaled the great European capitals in architectural majesty. The Ottoman Empire allegedly defended the Mamluk army in 1514, marking the end of Al-Ghouri's reign and the beginning of the decline of his influence over the city.

The Ghouri complex is located south of Sharia al-Azhar, at the beginning of the southern part of Sharia al-Muizz, which leads to Bab Zuweila. East of Sharia al Muizz is the mausoleum that al Ghouri had built for himself, however his remains were lost during the battle against the Ottomans, so it was not possible to locate them in the building. On the west side there is instead a mosque with a madrasa function surmounted by one of the tallest minarets in all of Cairo.

Its roof supported one of the largest domes in the city, which, however, following various failures, had to be replaced with a wooden one.

The complex was built as a single multifunctional space, which included a mosque and a mausoleum, as well as a cistern that supplied water to the population, an administrative space and a covered market.

Some parts of the original construction have been demolished, but the "Wikala al-Ghouri" still stands to the east, beyond numerous modern buildings. Now restored as a venue and meeting place for art exhibitions, this structure was originally one of hundreds of covered markets in Cairo. The stands on the first floor served as shops for passing merchants, while the other floors were used for merchant accommodation and for the storage of goods. Today you can see the performance of the whirling dervishes in the Tannoura company show every Wednesday and Saturday.

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By Kate Clark

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