Bab al‑Futuh

Bab al‑Futuh

Bab al‑Futuh (Gate of Conquests) is one of the gates in the northern wall of Fatimid Cairo. It opens onto the historic al‑Mu’izz Street, which leads to the only surviving southern gate of the city, Bab Zuwayla. It was built by the vizier and commander‑in‑chief, Badr al‑Jamali, during the reign of the Fatimid Caliph al‑Mustansir Billah. This stone structure was built farther north than the older, brick, gate of Jawhar al‑Siqilli, thus both giving the city room to expand, as well as tougher defenses. Bab al‑Futuh and Bab al‑Nasr, both of which were built in 480 AH/1087 AD, along with Bab Zuwayla (480 AH/1092 AD), are among the rare examples of military architecture in the Islamic world prior to the Crusades.

          As its dating inscription attests, this gate was founded as Bab al-Iqbal (Gate of Prosperity), but the inhabitants of Cairo continued to refer to it by the name of the older monument it replaced, Bab al‑Futuh. The two towers of the gate have rounded fronts, and are linked by a platform, which features shafts in its floor through which boiling oil could be poured on invaders. The arch is splayed, and decorated with a lattice of diamonds, each containing a sculpted shape. Also worth noting are the beautifully decorated corbel stones above the arch. The two at either end terminate in ram heads, symbolizing al‑Qahir (Mars), which was on the ascendant upon the founding of Cairo. This gave the new city its name, al‑Qahira “The Conqueror”.

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