Sunday, January 27, 2013

Islamic Cairo

I remember when I first visited Cairo, nearly 16 years ago how overawed I was. I did the tourist 'bit' and fell in love with the city. Thanks to Sara Farouk for organising that first trip! I fell in love so much so that after for years I organised trips for dancers to come with me from UK to see 'my Cairo'. I remember having on our itinerary 'Pyramids day' and 'Costume shop day' among so many other things, but one of the biggest sightseeing days on the trip was 'Islamic Cairo' tour.


At the time I remember saying, "but of course, all of Egypt is Islamic.... "


How wrong and naive I was. How much my feelings for this enchanting city had yet to develop. As for my understanding; I don’t think that if I could live in Cairo for a thousand and one years I would fully understand her.


At that time of course I had no idea that I would end up moving here and spending the next seven years (and counting) in Cairo. I also had no idea that the phrase 'Islamic Cairo' would fill me with a sense of impending doom, as it does now with recent politics. Before our current President was elected, the phrase had always conjured up images of proud, ancient minarets, towering against dusky sunsets. After all, Cairo does have the name 'The city with a thousand minarets'. Yes I was, and occasionally still am, prone to romantic orientalism.


A couple of weeks ago I played tour guide again and took my friend Ellie round that ‘Islamic tour’, to see how things had changed, if they had, and in particular to share some of Cairo’s beauty. I have to defend my reasons for wishing to live in Cairo to so many people all the time. Of course I am here primarily for dance, however maybe some of these photos we took on our day trip will help people understand some of the other reasons why my crazy love affair with Cairo has lasted so long....

The Sultan Hassan Mosque; one of my favourite spaces in Cairo.


This was the first time ever this particular mosque has insisted you cover your hair. Sign of changing times? 

The entrance to Al Rifa'i mosque is so much more impressive than my photographing skills can give credit, but you get the idea....


Ah yes... neon. Famous in the Ottoman dynasty don't you know!


The alabaster and marble used in the building of these mosques is stunning and worth the look alone!

Yes I do have an overwhelming desire to take done all these lamps and chandeliers and give them a good scrub with Prill (Egypt's 'Fairy') but even with countless years of dust trapped inside you can still get lost in their beauty.

your tour is only just started............... see my next blog entry for more!

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