Bab al-Futuh – A Timeless Relic of the Old City in Cairo

Bab al-Futuh (Conquest Gate) is one of three remaining gateways to the Old City in Cairo. The three gates which have survived the ravages of time are: Bab al-Futuh and Bab al-Nasr on the northern side of the old city, and Bab Zuwayla on the southern side of the city.

Bab al-Futuh, Cairo

Bab al-Futuh with its characteristic round towers.

Bab al-Futuh dates back to Egypt’s Fatimid era, with the construction of the gate being completed in 1087. It was a part of the Old City’s fortification, and it was added to the city’s walls by Vizier Badr al-Jamali during the time of Caliph Mustansir.

Bab al-Futuh – A Brief History

Unlike at the other gates which have square towers on either side, Bab-al-Futuh is flanked by two round towers. Their round shape made them superior to square towers in terms of strength and defense. Both towers have defense chambers with arrow slits, and also special shafts incorporated in their design. The purpose of the shafts was to allow those manning the towers to pour boiling water or even burning oil on people attacking the city.

The Bab al-Futuh monument is an excellent example of Islamic architecture, and particularly that of the Fatimid era. It is also only a stone throw away from a number of fantastic Fatimid era mosques, some of which are very popular Cairo tourist attractions. While the gate itself often isn’t mentioned in Cairo tour packages, you will almost certainly be passing through Bab-al-Futuh if you are going to be visiting an area in Cairo known as Islamic Cairo or Old Cairo.

As has been mentioned earlier, Bab al-Futuh dates back to 1087. It was built by the vizier of Caliph Mustansir. The same vizier has also been credited for doing much to restore the fortune of the Fatimid State which at the time was facing a potential collapse.

Interestingly, Caliph Mustansir ruled for longer than any other Muslim, from 1036 when he was just 6 years old, all the way through to 1094.

Unlike other old Islamic structures and monuments in Cairo, Bab al-Futuh was built only to serve as part of the old walled city’s fortifications, and as such, there is not a great deal to see at this site, but it is nonetheless still a nice place to visit because it sort of lets you feel what life must have been like back in those times.

The actual architecture is also impressive, but it is nothing like the architectural splendor which can be seen at some of the nearby Fatimid mosques.

Visiting Bab al-Futuh in Cairo

Bab al-Futuh is typically not seen as a stand-alone tourist attraction. In other words, most people who visit the gate do so on their way to one or more of the nearby mosques, or during a tour of Islamic Cairo or Old Cairo. For this reason, the Bab al-Futuh itself is often not mentioned in our Cairo Tour Packages or in our other classic Egypt Tour Packages, even if they do include a visit to the gate.

In short, if your preferred tour package includes some time in Old Cairo, then you will almost certainly see Bab al-Futuh.