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El Moez Street in Old Cairo: A Detailed Local’s Guide

El Moez Street (also spelled Muizz or Muiz) is the shorthand version of its proper name: El Moez Li-Deen Allah Al-Fatimi Street. You can probably see why we locals shortened it.

So what exactly is Moez Street?

El Moez Street in Old Cairo
Photo credit: Leila Tapozada

It’s a 1 km long pedestrian street, and to quote the UN, it has “the greatest concentration of medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world”.

It might not be the Pyramids, but it’s a definite must-see to get a true feel for the history of Cairo as a city, and to see some frankly mind-blowing medieval Islamic architecture and art. And not in a stuffy, museum-type behind-the-glass environment -- it’s a free pedestrian street with the architecture all around you, so you don’t have to worry about paying money to stare at super curated things that you a) don’t really understand, and b) are kind of boring. One thing we can promise about Moez Street -- it’s not boring, that’s for sure.

A little background first:

Cairo from above by Jean Leon Gerome (1824-1904)

El Moez Street is found in an area of Cairo known officially as Historic Cairo, but we locals refer to it as ‘Old Cairo’ (masr el adeema in Arabic).

Cairo was officially founded in 969 AD by the Fatimids (a North African Shi’ite Muslim caliphate) and the modern-day area of Old Cairo consists of the remnants of the pre-Cairo cities (Fustat, Al Askar, Al Qatta’i), as well as Coptic Cairo and Islamic Cairo. Moez Street is named after the 4th caliph of the Fatimid dynasty.

Old Cairo/Historic Cairo was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and it was called "one of the world's oldest Islamic cities, with its famous mosques, madrasas, hammams and fountains" and "the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century."

Read more about Egypt’s 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites here.

Cairo’s Islamic History

El Moez Street in Old Cairo
Moez Street by Carl Wuttke (1849-1927)

Briefly explaining the Islamic history of Egypt and Cairo in particular isn’t easy, what with all the different Islamic dynasties, but it’s important to have an idea of what we’re talking about when we reference something as being Fatimid, Mamluk, Ottoman or what have you.

Egypt was conquered by Arab Muslims in 641 AD, led by Amr ibn Al-As, who proceeded to build the first mosque in Egypt and all of Africa (a reconstructed mosque still stands in Cairo today). Although the capital of Egypt at the time was Alexandria, Amr ibn Al-As created a new capital where his mosque was, and named it Fustat.

More than 300 years later, in 969 AD, the Fatimid Caliph El Moez Li-Deen Allah Al-Fatimi built his new capital Cairo (Al Qahera in Arabic) north of Fustat, and later absorbed it. When Cairo was first built, it was a walled enclosure for the royal caliphs, and part of that wall still remains today -- El Moez Street runs between two different gates of the wall.

Since the foundation of Cairo, it was under several different Islamic dynasties:

Fatimid (969 - 1171 AD) - originally Arab, they had a North African Shi’ite caliphate

Ayyubid (1171 - 1250 AD) - a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origins, led by Salah El Din

Mamluk (1250 - 1517 AD) - a sultanate ruled by military slaves of Turkic and Circassian origins

Ottoman (1517 - 1867 AD) - part of the Ottoman Empire. Egypt became an autonomous Khedivate under Ottoman influence after 1867

Egypt wouldn’t achieve full independence from outside powers until it became a republic in 1952.

Pheeeeww ok we are now officially done with the history lesson.

Moez Street Today: What To Expect

El Moez Street in Old Cairo

Moez Street today is a mix of medieval mosques and buildings alongside modern vendors and shops in an Old Cairo neighborhood called Gamaleya, and the street is adjacent to the world-famous bazaar Khan el Khalili (for more info, you can read our full Khan el Khalili guide here).

The street starts at the northern Bab El Fotouh (one of the original gates to the old walled city), then meanders south for a bit until it intersects with Al Azhar street. Cross Al Azhar, and El Moez continues through the El Ghouri Complex (El Ghoureya in Arabic), ending at Bab Zuweila and the Tentmakers’ Market in the south.

You can either walk down the street and admire the buildings just from the outside, or you can explore some of them from the inside. Most of the mosques have free entry, but some of the other medieval buildings require a ticket and have working hours.

Starting from the El Ghouri Complex, the street gets pretty chaotic with all the different shops and vendors, so just don’t expect a calm stroll and you’ll be fine.

How To Get There

The easiest way to get to Moez Street is to have a taxi or Uber drop you off at Bab el Fotouh in Gamaleya. Just plug in the destination on your Uber app, or tell the cab driver (just make sure he knows where it is first -- some Egyptian cab drivers really need to give up their day job).

From Bab el Fotouh, you just walk through the gate and there you are!

Moez Street Tickets and Working Hours

El Moez Street in Old Cairo

The street itself is free of charge, and is just as popular at night as it is during the day, mainly because of how the buildings are lit in the dark.

Mosques: most of the mosques are free to enter, but if you’re a woman make sure that you have something to cover your hair (and aren’t wearing something too short/revealing) and both sexes need to take off their shoes at the entrance (you can bring them in with you though).

Places like the Qalawun Complex and Beit el Seheimy need a ticket to enter, and you can either buy an individual ticket or a combination one that lets you into different spots of interest on Moez Street, including historical houses, palaces and mausoleums.

Combination ticket price: 100 EGP (non-Egyptian), 50 EGP (Egyptian). This ticket gives you access to Qalawun Complex, Sulayman Agha Al-Silahdar Mosque and Sabil, Al-Kamil School, Al-Nasir Muhammad Ibn Qalawun Mosque and School, Sultan Barqouk Mosque, Musa Bin Maimun Temple, Hammam Inal and Amir Beshtak Palace.

Where to buy the combination ticket: at Qalawun Complex

The combination ticket doesn't include Beit el Seheimy (80 EGP and you buy it at the entrance of Beit el Sehemy itself).

Working hours for places that need tickets: 9 am - 5 pm (shortened hours in Ramadan), closed on Sundays.

What You’ll See

There’s *a lot* to see while walking down El Moez Street, but we narrowed down the main sites and listed them in the order of what you’ll see walking from Bab el Fotouh at the north entrance down south to the Tentmakers’ Market where Moez officially ends. Ready? Take a stroll with us:

Bab El Fotouh

Built: 1087 AD

Islamic era: Fatimid

One of the last three remaining gates to the original walled city of Cairo, built by a Fatimid caliph. It has arrow slits and shafts for pouring boiling water or oil on attackers.

Bab El Nasr

El Moez Street in Old Cairo

Built: 1087 AD

Islamic era: Fatimid

Before entering Moez Street from Bab El Fotouh, you can check out Bab El Nasr to the left of Bab el Fotouh. It’s one of the three remaining gates mentioned above, translating to Gate of Victory.

Al Hakim Mosque

El Moez Street in Old Cairo

Built: 992 AD

Islamic era: Fatimid

Once you enter Moez Street, the first site you’ll find is the Al Hakim Mosque, short for Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah. Its minarets are the oldest surviving minarets in Cairo. During certain periods after its construction during the Fatimid dynasty, it was used as a prison for Latin Crusaders, a fortress for Napoleon and a school before returning to its original function as a mosque.

Mosque-Sabil of Sulayman Agha Al-Silahdar