Sunday, April 24, 2011

Medieval Cairo

Someone in our group said that today felt like three days packed into one - in a good way. I agree.

We started the day meeting Dina Bakhoum, a dynamic woman who guided us through Al-Azhar park. This area, which used to be a dump since medieval times, has been transformed into an oasis of beautiful plants and fountains thanks to funding and work by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

She has led some of the restoration work, including excavation and reconstruction of a 1.5 km, 800-yr. old Ayyubid medieval city wall.

We also went into two mosques that have either been recently restored or are in the process of being restored.

Incredible work, and inspiring to see the dedication to preserving Cairo's rich heritage. While on our walk, we had the opportunity to hear the call the prayer at one of the mosques and walk down alleyways to experience this old part of the city.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch together at a cafe within the park before heading out on our next adventure.

In the afternoon, we visited a charitable organization that put new meaning into the word organization. In one building, we had a chance to see teen volunteers sorting donated clothes that will be given or sold at minimal cost to some of Cairo's poor. From there, we went on to see tutoring programs for children, programs for deaf and blind children, women's literacy groups, a performance by special needs children and teens, a meals program, an orphanage for kids ages 2-7, classes for computer skills, and a program to help with household goods and appliances. All under one roof! Amazing!
A deaf boy working on lessons using sign language.

 One of the boys in the orphanage - megawatt smile and personality.

Then back into our van for a trip across town to Khan el-Khalili, a bazaar near where we were this morning. It was interesting to walk narrow streets, watch this busy part of Cairo pass us by, and engage with market sellers. Although there were creative ways to entice us into their shops, on the whole I found people to have a good sense of humor.

Pictures below from some of the mosques in this part of the city...


  1. Hi Dear Amy, I finally got a chance to look at your blog today. I am glad your trip has turned out to be nothing but pure fun and learning... The fact you mentioned about Pyramids not being built by slaves rather by volunteer farmers who also received good care, is also true about Persepolis in Iran. Learning this couple years ago (about my own country!) was as fascinating to me as what I learned tonight about Egypt and pyramids.

    Keep keeping us posted about your adventures. I love the pictures.

  2. Mrs. Sanders-fantastic photos and details. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us. Continue to enjoy/discover/learn/experience...
    Danielle Torres