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‑Mu’izz Street, which leads to Bab al‑Futuh at its northern end. Built by the Fatimid vizier and commander‑in‑chief, Badr al‑Jamali, 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. According to local folklore, the spirit of al‑Mitwalli "one of the righteous friends of Allah", resides in this area, and performs miracles.
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.