When the Fatimids took control of Egypt in 969 AD, high taxes and poor governance by the Ikhshidid Abbasidds, who had ruled Egypt since 905 AD, had ravaged the region and its capital, Fustat. The Fatimids set about immediately to cement their power over the Egypt and its people.
The new caliph Al-Muizz began a large building project, repairing roads, restoring the canal system on which agriculture in the Nile Valley depended, and constructing a new capital, Al-Qahira. The Fatimids were Shi’a Muslims, seeking to expand the influence of their interpretation of Islam over the lands of the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate and they built Al-Qahira to rival the prestige of the Abbasid capital, Baghdad, laying the foundations for modern Cairo.
Al-Muizz Al-Deen Street, named for the first Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, was built as the main street through the Fatimid’s grand city and while much of the Fatimid capital was destroyed when subsequent Sunni Caliphates regained control of the city, Muizz Street retained its importance. Many of the palaces, mosques, and monuments of the Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman rulers that controlled Egypt after the Fatimids continued to be built along this street through the center of the city.
Today, Al-Muizz Street still displays the greatest density of significant Islamic monuments anywhere in the world to this day.
Running the length of Islamic Cairo’s central core, from Bab Al-Futuh in the north to Bab Zuweila in the south, it is one of the most important places in Egypt’s Islamic history. In addition the impressive monuments scattered along its length, it also hosts a bustling neighborhood, home to thousands of craftsmen making wares to be sold in Khan Al-Khalili, which marks the streets midpoint. A walk down this street, ending with a stroll through the maze of shops in Khan Al-Khalili, is an essential part of any visit to Cairo.
Al-Muizz Street makes it easy to experience both Islamic Cairo’s history and the modern neighborhood that exists alongside this aging architecture. The (northern) portion of the street that runs from Bab Al-Futuh to Azhar Street (next to Khan Al-Khalili) was recently restored. Restoration work on the southern section of the road is just beginning, making it more difficult to visit.