On our many walks around historic areas of Cairo, we have come across some unexpectedly lovely corners. Islamic Cairo is fascinating – from mosque-madrassahs (mosques with schools of Islamic jurisprudence) and mausoleums to water fountains and town houses, it has an incredibly rich heritage. Sometimes gardens are an attractive feature too.
One of my favourite “secret” walks, off the main tourist track, is Shari’a Bab El-Wazir, or the Street of the Minister’s Gate. Twisting and curving its way downhill just behind Cairo’s great Citadel, it is full of monuments on a smaller scale than in other areas of town. It was originally laid out as part of the expansion of medieval Cairo beyond the original walls, and clearly once inhabited by people of means to judge from the mosques and other buildings. Now, it’s an intimate and friendly neighbourhood where workshops and cafes jostle for room with the older structures, and trees somehow find a way to grow in whatever cramped space they can find.