Four medieval monuments inaugurated in Islamic Cairo after renovation

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 24 Jan 2016

Four medieval mosques and shrines in Al-Khalifa street have been restored

Al-Sayeda Rokaya mausoleum

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty inaugurated four newly restored medieval buildings in the Al-Khalifa area of Islamic Cairo on Sunday.

The monuments include mosques and shrines dedicated to three celebrated women, and one man: the Prophet Mohamed's granddaughter, Al-Sayeda Rokaya; Prophet Mohamed's aunt Aateka; the wife of the Ayyubid sultan Nagm Al-Din Ayub, queen Shagaret Al-Dur; and a relative of Prophet Mohamed, Al-Gaafari.

Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the inauguration of the four sites would help promote tourism to Egypt.

The restoration, which was funded by a US grant of $116 million, was carried out over a year by the American Research Center in Egypt, the minister said.

Eldamaty during the inauguration ceremony

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, deputy antiquities minister for Islamic and Coptic monuments, told Ahram Online that the restoration work included the consolidation of the buildings' foundations, columns and walls.

Cracks that have been growing over centuries were restored while salt accumulated in several locations inside and outside the monuments' walls due to the high rate of humidity was removed. Wooden decorative elements were restored while damaged and missing ones were replaced.

"The next phase of the project would involve installing a new drainage system in the whole area in order to prevent the leakage of subterranean water inside the monuments," Abdel-Aziz added.

A new drainage system was installed in the area surrounding these monuments as a first step, and within a year the current inefficient system in the Al-Khalifa area will be replaced with a new one, in collaboration with the housing ministry.

"A development project encompassing the whole area is also set to take place soon, in order to transform empty spaces in the area to improve the lives of residents. The space will then house a hospital, an events building for wedding parties and funerals, a nursery and a school," Abdel-Aziz said.

Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and Mashad was built by Al-Sayeda Alam Al-Amireya, the wife of Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah, in remembrance of Prophet Mohamed's granddaughter Rokaya.

It is located at the western side of Al-Khalifa street, adjacent to the Shagaret Al-Dur mosque. The mausoleum has three arcades and two niches with gypsum foliage elements.

Neighbouring the Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and Mashad are the shrines of Aateka and Al-Gaafari.

The Qubet (dome) Al-Gaffari was built in 1120 AD to commemorate Mohamed Ibn Gaafar, the great-grandson of Prophet Mohamed's cousin Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.

Qubet Aateka was built in 1122 AD to commemorate Al-Sayeda Aateka bent Zeid, Prophet Mohamed's aunt.

Abdel-Aziz explained that Qubet Aateka is very important because it houses the oldest Fatimid dome in existence, while Qubet Al-Gaffari and Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and Mashhad display distinguished Islamic decorative elements.

The Shagaret Al-Dur dome takes the form of a small shrine with three keel-arched entrances. The qibla wall facing Mecca has a prayer niche, and the dome of the building still bears some of its original ornamentation, including fluted lozenges and medallions and keel-arched niches with fluted hoods.

Shagaret Al-Dur dome


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