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The Al-Azhar Mosque

The Al-Azhar Mosque (the most blooming), established in 972 (361 H) in a porticoed style shortly after the founding of Cairo itself, was originally designed by the Fatimid general Jawhar El-Sequili (Gawhara Qunqubay, Gawhar al-Sakkaly) and built on the orders of Caliph Muezz Li-Din Allah. Located in the center of an area teaming with the most beautiful Islamic monuments from the 10th century, it was called "Al-Azhar" after Fatama al-Zahraa, daughter of the Prophet Mohamed (Peace and Prayers Be Upon Him). It imitated both the Amr Ibn El-As and Ibn Tulun mosques. The first Fatimid monument in Egypt, the Azhar was both a meeting place for Shi'a students and through the centuries, it has remained a focal point of the famous university which has grown up around it. It was under Yaqoub Ibn Cals that the mosque became a teaching institute. This is the oldest university in the world, where the first lecture was delivered in 975 AD. Today the university built around the Mosque is the most prestigious of Muslim schools, and its students are highly esteemed for their traditional training

Bab El-Futuh (Gate of Conquest)

Prior to about 1087, Cairo was not really much of a fortified city with its sun dried brick walls, though this weakness had demonstrated itself on occasions. That year, Badr ad-Din el-Gamali, the visor of El-Mustansir, employed three Syrian brothers from Edessa to build the three main gateways of the Fatimid wall made of stone which was to provide fortification. These massive gates are called the Bab (gate) el-Futuh, Bab an-Nasr and Bab Zuwaila.

The Bab el-Futuh, or Gate of Conquest consists of a huge vaulted opening carved from a massive block of stone and flanked by two rounded towers. The masonry is considered to be finer than that of the southern gate (Bab Zuwaila). It marks the northern boundary of the old Fatimid City. In past times, the great caravan of pilgrims returned each year from Mecca, entering this gate and making their way to the Citadel. Today, the entrance appears squat, but this is due to the base of the gate being sixteen feet below street level. The interior of the gate is accessible, and one may traverse the wall either on top, or from within to the more eastern Bab al-Nasr.

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