Magical bazaar

Magical bazaar
Fecha de publicación: 
2 January 2023
Imagen principal: 

Cairo, January 2 (Prensa Latina) Just as any traveler who arrives in the country of Pharaohs wants to meet the dream of visiting the famous pyramids of Giza, few leave without touring the Jan El Jalili Bazaar. This is a site in Cairo where picturesque and sinuous alleys full of Mosques, little shops and medieval buildings seem for a moment taken from another time.

Located in the Egyptian capital´s historical downtown area, it is a commercial zone, a noisy district full of history, a place where visitors of different peoples of the world have gathered throughout more than 600 years.

It goes back to the 14 century -1382 to be more specific-, when Mamluk Sultan, Djaharks El Jalili, decided to build a complex of markets (caravasar) in an area that had served as a cemetery for rulers of the Fatimid dynasty in the tenth century.

The marketplace soon became a point of economic reference in the region and when it grew it assimilated all architectural novelties from different periods in history, but without ignoring the previous styles, which show the mesmerizing mixtures of the old and the new which can still be enjoyed today.

Behind the modern elements added later you can see arches and vaulted Mamluk roofs, high multi-colored blue mosaic, carved wooden doors, old balconies hanging over cobble-stoned streets and thick lime stone walls which are the stage of a large number of exotic places.

As in those remote days, at thefrequentlyvisited Jan El Jalilibazaar you can find any unimaginable thing: colored lamps, jewelry, musical instruments, handicraft inspired by ancient Egyptian art, and also cosmetics, household goods or simply fruit and vegetables.

More fascinating than the little shops are the old cafes where traditionally tea was drunk and shisha -also called narghile in the country and in the region- was smoked, although after the Covid-19 pandemic authorities limited the latter.

Among the most popular ones is The Fishawi, a charming vintage-style place that has been open 24 hours a day for 200 years and whose decoration has almost not changed since it was founded in 1773.

Throughout time, its atmosphere and delicious Turkish coffee lured different national and foreign personalities; however, the area became famous thanks to the frequent visit of Egyptian writer, Nagib Mahfouz, a Literature Nobel Prize winner in 1988.

Like the author, who probably by observing his fellow countrymen and women in this lively area managed to synthesize much of the Egyptian idiosyncrasy, we enjoy the bazaar´s hustling and bustling, the sweet scents that invade alleys and traditional melodies performed by musicians.

In each one of the alleys, magical Jan El Jalili shows visitors a cultural wealth accumulated throughout centuries, thus providing an exceptional window to get to know and understand the soul of a people who are currently included in tourism, art and history.

(Published in Orbe)

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