Photo Essay

A Pastiche Of The Street In Medieval Cairo

Craftsman in the Shadows (Cairo)

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...

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14 responses

  • David Jeffries

    David Jeffries gave props (18 Feb 2012):

    nice photo essay, great pictures. I felt as though i was there when I read it....

  • Cheryl Andrews

    Cheryl Andrews   said (21 Feb 2012):

    Love the insights you've given and imagery shared both in words and your stunning photographs.

  • Amelia CAPPATO

    Amelia CAPPATO (Deleted) said (23 Feb 2012):

    Voted ! Amazing Story ! And more Nice Pictures !

  • Roberto Ambrosini

    Roberto Ambrosini gave props (26 Feb 2012): vote!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (26 Feb 2012):

    Impeccable work in both your narrative and photography. Voted!

  • James Wiley

    James Wiley gave props (3 Mar 2012):

    Glad you created the essay Roy. These images work so well together!

  • Børge Bjartmann Bjerck

    Børge Bjartmann Bjerck gave props (3 Mar 2012):

    Nice photo essy Roy!

  • Børge Bjartmann Bjerck

    Børge Bjartmann Bjerck gave props (3 Mar 2012):

    Nice photo essay Roy!

  • Tomma Henckel

    Tomma Henckel gave props (14 Apr 2012):

    Wonderful documentary! I like how you portray the little slices of life moments, both in photos and words, that make up the bigger picture.

  • Nadeem Shafi

    Nadeem Shafi gave props (29 Apr 2012):

    Amazing quality photos in this story and respresentative of a LOT of good, honest, shoe leather photography. My deepest respect. This is awesome.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (14 May 2012):

    A Brilliant story and the photos are awesome as well. This deserves to be published!!!

  • Tom Harvey

    Tom Harvey   gave props (19 May 2012):

    Wow! A beautifully crafted story and amazing photographs (one of my all time favourites - not just 'of the week'. You've got my vote this week!

  • Rogerio de Freitas

    Rogerio de Freitas gave props (17 Aug 2012):

    Great Work. Congrats.

  • rekha nag

    rekha nag gave props (1 Nov 2012):

    excellent job!! my vote.

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