• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Islamic Cairo

  • Historical Function

    Politics and culture.

  • Administrative Status

    National capital.

Location and site

Upriver from the delta and on the eastern shore of the Nile River, Islamic Cairo is surrounded by modern commercial quarters.

Urban Morphology

Islamic Cairo illustrates the Fatimid conception of urban planning, which encourages the integration of monuments as well as their artistic quality. Although an artery had to be developed for practical reasons, the medieval layout of the city, with its numerous lanes and courtyards, has been maintained to this day.

The history of Cairo since its foundation is illustrated in the great architecture of its 600 classified monuments. Ibn Tulun bequeathed the oldest intact Islamic monument, the famous mosque which bears his name. The Fatimids left several significant works, such as the University Mosque of El-Ahzar (972), the mosques of Al-Hakim (1003) and Al-Akmar (1125), as well as monumental gates. Saladin left the citadel and the walls (1202). The Mameluks added countless architectural splendours to the city, including the mosque-madrassa of the sultan Hassan (1362). The Ottomans, in preserving medieval Cairo, enriched the ensemble with their Turkish influence.

Registration Criteria

Several of the great monuments of Islamic Cairo are incontestable masterpieces. (I) The centre of Cairo groups numerous streets and older dwellings and thus "maintains, in the form of the traditional urban fabric, forms of human settlement which go back to the Middle Ages." (V) "The historic centre of Cairo constitutes an impressive material witness to the international importance, on the political, intellectual and commercial level, of the city during the medieval period." (VI)

Historical Reference

  • The first capital of Islamic Egypt, Fostât, was founded in 641 A.D. following a Muslim conquest.
  • In 870, Ibn Tulun, a prefect who was liberated from the power of the Abbasid Caliphs, founded his own city outside Fostât for security reasons.
  • In 969, the Fatimids arrived in Egypt and, for the same security reasons, proceeded to relocate the capital to El-Qâhirah, which became the nucleus of medieval Cairo. This was the golden era of the Fatimids.
  • In the 12th century, Saladin, founder of the Ayoubites Dynasty, transformed Cairo by constructing fortifications, demonstrating his military will. He united the two neighbouring towns of Fostât and Al-Qâhirah by building a dressed stone wall around them and erecting a citadel which thereafter replaced the princely palace.
  • In 1261, under the rule of the Mameluks (1250-1517), Cairo became the new centre of the Islamic world, a role previously played by Damascus and Bagdad. During the 16th century, Cairo enjoyed its golden era.
  • In 1517, Cairo was conquered by the Ottomans.
Mr. Atef Abdel Hamid
Governor of Cairo
Cairo Governorate
7 El Gomhoreya Square, Abdeen
Cairo, Egypt
Ms. Jihan El Mallakh
International Affairs Consultant
Cairo Governor's Office
7, El Gomhoreya Square, Abdeen
Cairo, Egypt
+202. 2391.4369, +202.2391.8050, +202.2795.5569