A Pastiche Of The Street In Medieval Cairo
15 Feb 2012
Al-Muizz Street in Cairo, Egypt, about a kilometer long, is one of the oldest in the city, with one of the greatest concentrations of medieval architecture in the Middle-East. It is commonly divided into two sections, north and south. The spice market and antique shops are in the north, which has been rehabilitated by the government with new facades and a stone boulevard, but in the south where the famous Tent Market of Gamaliya and the towering gate of Bab Zuweila are, the street becomes a narrow dirt passageway with the smell of raw sewage drifting among the humanity that shop, work, live and die there.
I photographed both sides of Al-Muizz in 2010 and 2011, a street that has survived throughout thousands of years of war, invasion and conflict, before the revolution this year that witnessed the fall of the Mubarak regime and the confusion and violence that followed it.
Among the images here are the craftsmen working in leather, or brass and silver, the homeless finding solace and sleep on ancient walls or hard, stone steps, shopkeepers playing backgammon, a young artist sketching as a black and white cat strolled quietly by, a lady seemingly as ancient as the walls she leaned against selling simple shoes, I named "Queen Of Shoes", and a merchant taking his ease next to a bright, antique Victrola. There are wonders to behold on this ancient street, mysteries down each narrow alley, sights and images that transport you into the distant past.
Rich, exotic, medieval, a study in contrasts...shimmering heat and the cold stone of ancient walls, sunlight competing with dark slices of shadow...the fragrances of the morning, shisha, mint tea and fresh oranges sometimes smothers a prevailing feeling of decay...the energy and lethargy of the street always struggling in a slow dance. Ancient Cairo as it exists today...