On Friday, April 1, we all went to the Khan El Khalili in Islamic Cairo, located at the apex of al-Qahira, the walled old city. Over time, this structure has included a souk or suq – a commercial area or quarter- as well as a caravanserai – a roadside inn for travelers, and is a walled-in area with one traditional entrance way. The site also includes the Sultan al Ghuri complex, a Khanqah, Mausoleum, Sabil-Kuttab, Mosque and Madrasa in the Fahhamin Quarter, al Mu’izz li-Din Allah street in Islamic Cairo. Since the 1500s, this site has been a multi-use structure – sacred, commercial and lodgings. The traditional entrance/exit gate still stands today, and you can see the areas in the architecture where boiling oil was poured on potential invaders. Inside this area are warrens full of stalls selling all kinds of cool things, and the shoppers seem to be tourists and Egyptians alike.
During our visit, we wandered into a carpet store. My nephew asked if they sold flying carpets. The proprietor responded, “No, but we have repaired carpets over 500 years old, and from as far away as Russia.” Pretty cool.
(As an interesting piece of info – wikipedia notes the following about the word suq: “In Modern Standard Arabic the term refers to markets in both the physical sense and the abstract economic sense (e.g., an Arab would speak of the souq in the old city as well as the souq for oil, and would call the concept of the free market السوق الحرّ as-sūq al-ḥurr.)”
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