Famous Bab al Futuh

Bab Al Futuh in Cairo was built in 1087 by Badr al-Gamali. It likewise replaced an earlier gate placed somewhat to the South which had been included in the original enclosure wall of Gawhar. The name given to the new gate by Badr was Bab al-Iqbal (Gate of Prosperity) but once again the populace transferred the name of the old gate to the new. During Napoleonic times this was called the Tour Lescale.

Although the construction is similar to the Bab al-Nasr, with the structure solid for two-thirds of its height, the form is different. The flanking towers of the gate (23m high from original ground level) have rounded fronts and the bases rest on chamfered rectangular plinths. Each tower is decorated with an arched panel on the front and on the sides. Only the latter are decorated with an inner ring of cushion voussoirs. Above this are three arrows slits in a rectangular panel, surrounded by a continuous moulding which runs around the tower across the gateway and onto the other tower

The great arch of the gateway is decorated with a carved lattice pattern, inside the lozenges of which are flowers and geometrical motifs. Above are eight decorated brackets which support a stone shelf running between the towers. This supports a shallow arch above which is a large rectangular panel pierced by five round-arched openings. Across the top is a small corbel supported on brackets. The whole structure is crowned with round-headed crenellations. Inside the latticed arch the gate is spanned by a flat massive joggled lintel and under the great arch is an elaborate voussoir with carved keystone

Behind the doorway a tunnel-vaulted passage leads into the porch. This is covered (unlike the Bab al-Nasr) with a shallow dome on pendentives. On each side is a vaulted recess. At the inner end of the porch is a great arch with 27 voussoirs, most of which are joggled. At the summit of the rear face, on a level with the platform on the front, a molding is carried around the flanks of the gate. Inside each tower is a long vaulted room.

The walls continue to the West of the gate. For c 165m and including a Rectangular Tower (Napoleon's Tour Perrault) and a Round-fronted Tower (Tour Junot). But beyond this at a Pentagonal Tower the wall bends South-West and is Salah al-Din's reconstruc¬tion. On the North side of street of al-Baghalah which lies the Mosque al-Mazhariyyah. This is the site of a madrasah built in 1298, but little remains of the original fabric save for some fine marble carving on either side of the entrance and the magnificent bronze doors covered with geometrical relief.



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