New lighting in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 2 Sep 2021


TO ILLUMINATE the beautiful architecture of the eastern façade of the Beit Al-Razzaz in the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district of Historic Cairo, a new cool-lighting system has been installed, writes Nevine El-Aref.

The system is made up of 20 special lamps that are non-invasive to the monument.

The Beit Al-Razzaz is a historic residential complex. Ahmed Katkhuda Al-Razzaz, the heir of a wealthy Ottoman rice merchant, created it in the late 18th century by joining two adjacent palaces together.

The building that now forms the eastern half of the Beit Al-Razzaz is commonly attributed to the Mameluke Sultan Qaitbay, whose reign transformed the urban landscape of Cairo in the late 15th century. The western half is a slightly newer addition, probably constructed in the Mameluke or later Ottoman era. The two buildings were remodelled to form an extensive, four-storey complex containing more than 190 rooms.

The complex is oriented around two courtyards with a small street frontage that belies the extent of what lies behind it. It is a rare intact survivor of this type of urban palace and is intimately associated with the history and evolution of residential life in one of the world’s greatest cities. It preserves many spectacular interior spaces, including the largest surviving mandara, or reception hall, in Historic Cairo.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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