Friday, September 30, 2011

Mamluk era arms market falls into disrepair

Ahram Online (Farah El Akkad)

The once bustling Souq Al-Selah Street lies in the heart of Islamic Cairo surrounded now by piles of refuse, as it slowly decays and slips out of the collective memory.

Those who forged, those who sold and those who bought the weapons have long since died, but will the old buildings of Souq Al-Selah Street (Arms Market Street) meet the same fate?

It is an interesting street: a narrow lane only 220 metres long, located to the right of Al-Rifaai Mosque in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Description de l’Egypt (1798) describes its location in a semi-isolated area on the eastern side of Old Cairo, ending at Al-Darb Al-Ahmar and Al-Ghuriya district. The street, which dates back to the 8th century, was first known as Souq Al-Ezzy.

However, over the years, the popular name became Souq Al-Selah due to the numerous workshops that sold all kinds of weaponry. The street saw its golden years during the Mamluk era when it was considered the Citadel’s main source of arms. A famous Mamluk prince, Ezz El-Din Bahdar, dwelt on the street itself and was in charge of supervising the arms industry.

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