Prior to about 1087, Cairo was not really much of a fortified city with its sun dried brick walls, though this weakness had demonstrated itself on occasions. That year, Badr ad-Din el-Gamali, the visor of El-Mustansir, employed three Syrian brothers from Edessa to build the three main gateways of the Fatimid wall made of stone which was to provide fortification. These massive gates are called the Bab (gate) el-Futuh, Bab El-Nasr and Bab Zuwaila.


Bab Zuwayla, sometimes called al-Mitwalli after El Kutb al-Mitwalli by some local inhabitants, defines the southern limits of the Fatimid City, though the city quickly moved beyond this gate. It is named after the al-Zawila, a Berber tribe whose Fatimid soldiers were quartered nearby. Bab al-Mitwalli is a name dating to Ottoman times since the wali of the janissaries or commander of the police force charged with maintaining public order, had his residence and headquarters near here. However, that same name is also that of an Islamic saint named Mitwalli al-Butb, who had lived by the gate and worked miracles. The gate became a venue for those in need of the saint's intercession. His spirit is supposed to live behind the west side of it, where he is said to sometimes flash a light to let one know he is there.


It is very similar in design to the other gates, but perhaps has a somewhat richer tradition.

Islamic Cairo  Tour


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