In Cairo, after a long renovation, a 13th-century mosque was opened to the public, which in the past, before it was left to decay, was also used as a soap factory, a slaughterhouse and a fortress.
Al Zahir Bajbars Mosquewhich was built during the Mamluk rule in 1268, stretches over a hectare of territory north of the center of Cairo: by measurements, it is the third largest mosque in Egypt.
Archaeologist Tarek Mohamed El-Behairywho was at the head of the restoration venture, explained to the Reuters news agency that the building was returned to its original state with the help of mechanical and chemical interventions. “Some parts were destroyed and some had to be removed because they were not structurally safe enough to still belong in the mosque,” he said. “However, as part of the reconstruction process, we tried to work in a style with an appropriate archaeological style.”
The renovation cost 7.68 million dollars, has been running since 2007 and was partly helped to finance it by Kazakhstan. Due to financial complications, work stopped between 2011 and 2018.
For the last 225 years, the mosque was either closed to the public, abandoned, or used for secular purposes, which further contributed to its decline. It was used as a military fortress during the period of Napoleon’s military invasion, and under the Ottoman rule in the 19th century, a soap factory operated in it. After the British colonial invasion of Egypt in 1882, the former mosque was the site of a slaughterhouse.
Al Zahir Baybars was an important figure in Egyptian history; he is credited with consolidating the Mamluk rule in Egypt, which lasted three hundred years and ended in 1517.