Bab Zuwayla, with its impressive
dimensions, perfect stone masonry, and graceful twin minarets rising from its
round-fronted towers, is one of Cairo’s most iconic monuments. It is the only
remaining gate of the southern wall of the city’s Fatimid phase. It opens onto
the historic al‑Mo’ez Street, which leads to Bab al‑Futuh at its northern end.
Built by the Fatimid vizier and
commander‑in‑chief, Badr al‑Gamali, in 480 AH/1092 AD, it defined Cairo’s new
southernmost extent, displacing the original, brick, Bab Zuwayla (now lost).
Its builder, the Fatimid commander of the armies, was Jawhar al‑Siqilli, who
conquered Egypt and founded Cairo.
Among his troops were members of
the eponymous tribe of Zuwayla, who were quartered near the gate. The minarets
were not added until 818 AH/1415 AD, when the Mamluk Sultan al‑Mua'yyad Shaykh
built a mosque next to Bab Zuwayla.
Bab Zuwayla was also known as
Bawabbat al‑Mitwalli, because the mitwalli al‑hesba, the official in charge of
finances and tax collection, was based here.
Bab Zuwayla witnessed the end of
Mamluk rule when the Ottoman Sultan, Selim I, hanged the last Mamluk Sultan,
Tumanbay in 922 AH/1517 AD.
of Tourism and Antiquities