17 October 2018

Haret al Yahud

The synagogue of Musa bin Maymun, or Maimonides, isn't far from the Haret Zuweila churches.  The synagogue is in the north part of the Rabbinate Jewish neighborhood in the area, and possibly in the Karaite section (which is an entirely different blog post).  These were both lower income Jewish neighborhoods.  Before coming here this time, I had no idea that Maimonides had lived in Cairo for more than half his life.  The synagogue he went to was on this site and he was buried here before his bones were moved to Tiberius in what is now Israel, although Egyptian Jewish tradition says his bones never left Egypt.  No matter what, this is a significant site in the life of one of the most important Jews that ever lived.  And no one ever talks about it.

There isn't much to see here from the outside.  The building is locked unless you contact the Jewish community ahead of time to open it or go on a synagogue tour.  But I still think it's worth coming by this site simply because it's important.

This is labeled in Arabic on Google maps, or it's simply the spot marked with a Star of David and labeled "Synagogue" southeast of the Haret Zuweila churches.  It's directly south of El Adawy Primary School which you can find on Google maps.  It is not, however, at the location marked "Maimonides Synagogue" on Google maps.  That's in completely the wrong section of al-Qahira and there's nothing there (I went there myself to make sure). 

There were many synagogues in this area before the 1960s when nearly all Egyptian Jews left.  We walked by several old sites. Some are completely gone, some have been converted into mosques, and some are just ruined. I think I found the Talmud Torah synagogue which was converted into a mosque, just north of Darb al Homosani and across from Abd El Mageed Abd El Gawad restaurant.  And we walked by what should be the Haim Capussi Synagogue on Nasir Alley. I didn't read the graffiti so if there is something nasty in the photo, I'm sorry.

I will definitely go back to do a lot more exploring, and maybe to see if we can talk to someone who has lived in the neighborhood for a long time.

16 October 2018

Haret Zuweila

I've been reading about Egyptian Jews the last few days and found some great websites that marked what used to be Jewish neighborhoods and synagogues, and the sites of some of the bombings that happened in the neighborhoods, plus the oldest Jewish cemetery in Cairo (and one of the oldest in the world).  It will take some time to visit all of the synagogues still in existence, but I wanted to see the Maimonides synagogue and since it's very close to Haret Zuweila where there are a few Christian churches, we went off to explore the al Muski section of Fatimid Cairo.  I'll post about the Jewish places we saw tomorrow.

The churches are easily accessible from Port Said, across from the CIB Bank.  There's plenty of security again, but when we went inside the compound, I was asked to show if I had a cross tattooed on my wrist, as many Copts do.  I don't, but I did explain in Arabic that I am Christian and they let me go on.  I've read that some churches do check to see if visitors have a cross on their wrist so it was interesting to see that myself. 

There are three churches here.  I didn't see how to visit St. Mercurius (it was built by Ibrahim Guhari) and I'll find out next time I go, but we did go inside Mar Girgis (newer and not as interesting to me) and the Church of the Virgin Who Melted Iron.  It's about 1000 years old and was also likely built on an earlier site.  It's a lovely building with water flowing in small channels everywhere.  An older woman talked to me for a long time and had the caretaker open a chapel for us, plus a room where icons and bibles were displayed.  I was especially glad to see the second room because it has what is likely a 12th century icon.  The woman talked about hoping to see Mary appear, and as I was leaving, another woman mentioned that hope.

The church has been attacked and/or closed many times, partly because of religious perception but also because there's a persistent legend that the founder of the original church buried some kind of treasure underneath.  June 28th is the feast day to commemorate when the Virgin Mary melted all of the iron in a prison where St. Matthew was in prison.  I can't find this story in anything but Coptic sources so maybe it was supposed to have happened in Egypt or it's only a Coptic tradition?  Working on this one.

15 October 2018

Abu Sarga

Abu Sarga's official name is Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church. This is one of the oldest churches inside the fortress.  The current building is from the Fatimid era. There was an earlier church here which likely was built in the later 700s to replace a 3rd or 4th century church built over the cave That earlist church probably was destroyed when Marwan (the last Umayyad leader) burned Fustat in 750 to try to keep the Abbasids from taking it which obviously didn't work.  St. Barbara was built at the same time and they have a lot of similarities.

This is a very important church for Copts and even though you'll see lots of tourists here, you'll also see Copts too (as at any of the churches in Coptic Cairo).  You'll notice a baptismal font in the floor as soon as you enter the building which is one reason why you can tell this church is older since baptismal fonts right when you enter the church are an early feature.

14 October 2018


Today I finally had time to get vegetables at the local market (as opposed to the grocery store or the expat market).  I know I’ll get tired of it before long, but I am craving some weeks where there is something like a routine so I can go to the market a few times a week and start eating the way I want to.

Greens have been one of the things I haven’t been able to get a handle on so I focused on those today. I’m working on names and figuring out exactly what I can expect to be available.  A bunch of greens costs 1.5 geneh in the expat market and 1 in the local market.  That’s less than six cents.  I know I can get mint, cilantro, parsley, dill, arugula, spinach, another leafy green that I still need to identify, and jusay. I was especially happy to confirm the jusay today.  It’s called kurrat in Arabic and I’m trying to figure out what people do with it here. Maybe it goes in taamiya?  Maybe I’ll pester the Uber driver tomorrow about it.  I so wish more women drove Ubers and taxis so we could talk about cooking.

Tonight we are having kushari and pomegranates for dinner.  Pomegranates have been in season for a few weeks now and they’re 25 cents at most.

13 October 2018

The first time I came to Cairo was 23 years ago, at the end of a study abroad program.  We were in Egypt for a week and went to all of the typical tourist things (lots of pyramids, Coptic Cairo, Muhammad Ali mosque, plus Luxor).  I loved the trip, but then I came back a couple of years later when I was studying Arabic and we stayed in Cairo for two weeks.  We did some of the typical tourist things but we also had time to explore the city.  We went to the Northern Cemetery and al-Qahira and Ibn Tulun, some with our larger group of 14 people and some with just 3 of us.  That was when I decided that I would live here someday because I knew I needed a lot more time in this city.

I cannot begin to explain how much I love being here.  I love this city.  I love exploring new places, returning to places over and over because it’s impossible to see everything, going back to sites I saw in the 90s, taking people to see things beyond the tours, and reading everything I can in English and Arabic about Cairo’s history when I have to be at home. I am so happy to be here.

12 October 2018

Church of the Virgin of the Pot of Basil

This is another church they don't take the tourists to, but I love this one for a number of reasons.  First, basil.  Basil is grown as a decorative plants in lots of places in Uzbekistan, but especially around tombs and memorials.  To me, it's a hint of much older traditions when you see it at a Muslim site there.  The word for basil in Arabic is rihan and Uzbek is rayhon, which was also the name of my husband's Uzbek teacher (except she was actually Uyghur).  Basil doesn't smell like food to me, it smells like Central Asia.  And there's basil growing in the courtyard of this church.  No one knows why the church has that name but I don't really care.

I also love the look of the church.  It's quite dark but if you spend a little time inside it will get easier to see things.  There was an older church here that burned in 1979 and was completely torn down in 2000 and rebuilt.  The version that burned in 1979 replaced a church that burned in 1777.  Since the church burned relatively recently, it was easier to recreate the late-1700s building and it has some older features, like the smaller arched door leading into the church.  So it's new, but it still has lots of character.  And you'll almost certainly not run into lots of tourists here.  Make sure to stop and smell the basil.

You'll get to this one if you continue down the road from Mar Girgis and go straight into the doorway.  It's often called al Adra or Qasriyat al Rihan, which means pot of basil.

Also, we stopped at a plant store on Sunday to get a potted plant and they had a lovely large pot of basil that now lives in my house.

11 October 2018

Coptic Mar Girgis Church

All of the different places named after Mar Girgis get confusing in Coptic Cairo.  The main one people see is the big Mar Girgis church that's one of the most noticeable buildings in Coptic Cairo.  It's next to the Coptic Museum and is built over one of the towers of the fortress and is round (which is a good clue to know if you're looking at the Greek Orthodox Mar Girgis rather than the Coptic).  It's only about 100 years old since the 10th century church burned and is Greek Orthodox.  It also has a monastery. More on that one in another post.

If you go down the stairs in  Cairo, past the convent and all the booksellers, and turn left at the end of the road, you'll come to this church in a bit on the right.  This is the Coptic Mar Girgis church. Most tours skip it, which is fine since it's not the most amazing place in Coptic Cairo, but I still like it. The history of the building is a bit vague.  The original might date from around 684 and a 15th-century historian mentions a church of St. George.  But the church burned in the mid-1800s and was rebuilt.  There are bits of what is probably a Fatimid-era brick building that they found when they restored the building around 15 years ago but you can't see them.

The tombs of the Guhari brothers are also here and you'll see them before you go around to the church.  Ibrahim Guhari was an influential political leader in Egypt in the late 1700s and was able to give permission to build or rebuild several Coptic churches.  Girgis was also a political leader under Napoleon and Muhammad Ali.  It's entirely possibly Coptic Cairo wouldn't exist today, or certainly not the way it is, without these brothers, especially since churches tend to burn.  There's a nice mashribiyya window above the tombs, but even better is the ceiling, so look up.  The chapel has been closed when I had been there, but I hope to see it sometime.

There's also a wedding hall that I haven't managed to see yet.  It was restored around 1900.  And there are ruins of the Roman fortress.

10 October 2018

One thing I love about Egypt is that there are plenty of good history books about this country, and especially about Cairo.  Even better, the library at my son's school has a rather good section of books about Egypt, anything about Egypt.  And I can check books out there.  I had a long list of books I'd wanted to read or buy before coming here and nearly all of them are at the library.  I love it.

07 October 2018

Coptic Cairo, Again

I was planning to go to Muizz Street with a group of women a few days ago but none of them could make it at the last minute, so I went back to Coptic Cairo on my own.  It really is an easy and pleasant place to visit and so very interesting.  I also felt entirely comfortable going by myself.  When I went with my son we were seeing what we'd find, but this time I was more organized and I'd found a map (which is more difficult than you'd think, since most maps of the area don't include some of the streets so you're stuck with dots that you can't tell how to get to till you stumble on the right place) and I had all the time I wanted to wander about.  I still haven't been inside the museum but there's time. 

When we were talking to some Copts right after we arrived, they asked if we'd been to the seven churches in Old Cairo. I'm still a little fuzzy on which, exactly, are the seven churches, and how to get to all of them because some are not straightforward at all.  I have been to Abu Sarga, Mar Girgis convent, Mar Girgis Coptic church, Mar Girgis Greek Orthodox church/monastery, Al Adra (the church of the Virgin), and the Muallaqa (the Hanging Church).  There is possibly another Greek Orthodox church in the cemetery on the north side of the area and maybe a Melkite (St. Elias?) church in the cemetery on the south side.

There are actually lots of cemeteries here that you probably wouldn't ever see on a regular tour.  One way to access them is to go past St. Barbara to the locked gate at the end of the road and go up the stairs to the right.

The Muallaqa and Abu Sarga get the most visitors, so try to visit them earlier in the day if you can.  Mar Girgis convent opens a little later than the other churches, so if it's closed when you walk by the first time, you can try again later (and you'll almost certainly walk by again because of the way tourists are directed around the area).

You'll notice that St. George is super popular.  He's called Mar Girgis here and there's a convent, a Coptic church, and a Greek Orthodox church named after him along with lots of dragons being killed.  Coptic tradition actually didn't include the story about dragon but Copts adopted it later because no one should pass on a good dragon slaying story.  I love to see how different saints are popular in various parts of the world.

06 October 2018

Odds and Ends

I have a few quiet minutes on a Saturday with no one else home which isn't the normal thing for a Saturday.  It's going to be a very busy week of going to into Cairo almost every day, going to the school only a little less often, and getting more moving to Cairo stuff taken care of.  The kitchen stuff and the games might even come! 

The elevators at our building are out.  One has been out for months, apparently, and the other has officially died. For reasons that I won't go into here, it will likely be many weeks, if not a couple of months, before we have a functioning elevator again.  I don't live in a high-rise, gratefully, but I am definitely not on the ground floor.  I had a few boxes of our stuff delivered a couple of days ago and the men delivering them had to haul they up so many flights of stairs.  One of them commented that they weren't allowed to use the elevator and seemed skeptical that it was actually not working, but when I told him I wasn't able to use the elevator either he was incensed.  But he was the one hauling the boxes up the stairs.  It felt backward that he thought it wasn't fair that I couldn't use the elevator (and only used it a handful of times when it was working anyway) but he and his men didn't or couldn't complain when they thought they were being told they couldn't use a functioning elevator.  Cheap labor is good for my pocketbook, but it honestly is dehumanizing because people's work doesn't matter.  I blogged about this often in Kyrgyzstan.

There have been clouds some days.  I've always liked clouds but Saudi taught me to love them more than anything ever.  I even liked mild dust storms because that was the most reliable way to make the sun go away.  The highs are mostly in the low 30s now. Cairo's sunsets are early like Riyadh's and I like that too. 

Milk is a hassle to get here, at least for my family that drinks a lot of milk.  It's relatively expensive for Egypt (the price is similar to the US) so it's not sold in large quantities.  No one in the family much likes long life milk so someone needs to buy milk pretty much every day, like in Kyrgyzstan.  But I finally have a son who is both willing and able to go to the grocery store on his own.  This is entirely because he buys some kind of treat while he's there, but it's so nice to not have to think about milk every single day.  The other boys were able for years but never, ever willing.  I am looking forward to my rolling cart coming sometime so it's easier to get shopping done in my neighborhood.

There are a couple of places to buy produce near me.  I can go to a small grocery store, which is easy and close but boring, or I can go to a couple of produce stands where there are often other expat women shopping.  I'm not very keen on those because they tend to round way up, they always speak to me in English, and I just don't enjoy them so much.  So I try to walk to the group of stands in a different neighborhood (the one with the backgammon and goats) because I end up with better and more produce, and more Arabic practice.  It's a longer walk, but again, that rolling cart will help.  It will be nice when all of the moving in is finished.

We also got rid of a bunch of furniture in the house.  I didn't ever bother in Riyadh, but here we've sent it away, rearranged, and stashed things in closets.  I like it so much better to not have all of huge furniture around.  It would be even better to choose our own furniture, but that would be impractical.

04 October 2018

One of the many things I like better here than in Riyadh is hearing the call to prayer.  I always like the call to prayer, but in Riyadh I rarely heard it since we didn’t have a mosque near our house and everything was always closed up tight.  I could go for days without hearing it if I didn’t happen to be outside at the right time, and in Riyadh, you have to actively avoid being out when the call to prayer starts because everything closes.  So instead of enjoying the call to prayer, I often was stressed to make sure we wouldn’t get trapped in a store.

In Cairo I hear the call to prayer every day easily in my house, from several mosques, and it just makes me happy.  One positive to Riyadh is that I finally got all of the prayer times firmly in my head and how they change throughout the year, so I can now tell the time by the call to prayer.  But mostly it feels like I’m living in a country where prayer is a much more natural and personal part of daily life, rather than something ordered by the government.

It probably also helps that I don’t live so near any mosques that they wake me up too early in the morning.

I did love hearing the call to prayer in Saudi when I was in the desert.  Before everyone else discovered Wadi Mawan, we went out one afternoon and hear the call to prayer from a mosque in Mawan.  It was so beautiful.  And then we’d hear the call to prayer at sunset over the escarpment when we went out for a picnic.  That was the best of all.

03 October 2018

Ibn Tulun

This is one of my favorite places in all of Cairo.  So much history, so many reasons why it shouldn't have survived till now, so many odd stories.  Plus it's quiet, beautiful, and peaceful.  I went a few days ago with my husband and back again on Monday with my son.

It was built in the late 800s by Ibn Tulun and it's almost the only thing left of Cairo from that time period.  There's also an aqueduct and I am already plotting multiple posts on Cairo's water system because it's so interesting.  But if plumbing doesn't appeal as much to you, you can just see the mosque.  There are older Islamic buildings in Cairo but none that are still mostly the way they were built.  This place really does feel very different.  Also, it's huge - more than six acres.

The vast majority of foreigners come here on tours or with a guide, and they rarely walk through the neighborhood at all.  I highly recommend walking down from Sayyida Zaynab, partly because it's interesting and doesn't take long, but also because you can see how the neighborhood grew around the mosque.  Everything you see poking up around the mosque is much newer and you can only get a sense of how it fits together from outside.  You should at least walk behind the mosque by on the minaret side.

The Gayer-Anderson Museum has an entrance from inside the ziyada (the area between the inner and outer walls).  It's an interesting place to visit too.  There are tickets (60 pounds each right now for adults, plus extra if you want to take photos).

The design on the top of the walls everywhere is really unique, almost quirky to me.  

Go on through the ziyada and enter the mosque (you can also see that later mosques made sure to line up nicely with the ziyada).  The two walls help make the mosque quieter, and it really does make a difference.  You'll be directed to the left to get outfitted with shoe covers.  You'll need to give a tip to the shoe people and then a donation to the mosque.  After that you're free to look around as long as you please.  There is lots of interesting information near the door (if you were to turn right when you enter) about the recent restoration.  For me, it's easiest to loop around the mosque and read that at the end, but either way works.

You'll come to the qibla wall quickly after getting your shoes covered.  The 5th, 6th and 16th windows from the left on that wall are original to the 879 construction.  You'll also find the original mihrab in the center of the wall. It is in a very different style that you'll see just about anywhere else in Cairo, and it's supposed to have Coptic influence (and it looks like it).  The marble around the edge and the mosaic inscription were added later (by  Lajin) but the Kufic is supposed to be original. To the left of the mihrab is the door that used to go to Ibn Tulun's palace.  You'll also see another mihrab further to the left that was added later.  In fact, a number of mihrabs were added over the years for different reasons.  More on that in a minute.

The minbar is from the Lajin restoration which was managed by Sangar whose complex I posted about yesterday.  Lajin restored the building at the end of the 13th century so the minbar is early Mamluk and very nice.  The Fatimids had used the mosque and added their own mihrabs, but by the end of the 1200s, it was, at best, being used as a caravan stop and was in bad shape.  Lajin hid there after helping to assassinate al Ashraf Khalil (one of Qalawun's sons) and he promised that if he didn't get executed himself, he would restore the mosque.  He did get out and became sultan for a short time (during one of the gaps in al Nasir Muhammad's rule (he's another son of Qalawun) and he restored Ibn Tulun.  The mosque likely would have been lost without Lajin.  

Before moving on, make sure to back away from the original mihrab so you can see all the others that were added.  The first pair you'll see was probably added very early.  One panel has a hanging star which I just love.  Keep backing up and you'll see a panel with Kufic script which is dedicatory inscription for the mosque.  Keeping backing up some more and you'll see two more.  The one on the right is from 1094 and the one on the left is a copy from Lajin's restoration.  And get a photo here because it's a near view.  The mihrab directly on the qibla wall to the left of the original was probably from Lajin.

Next, look up to see the wooden Qur'anic inscriptions that go all the way around the mosque.  The whole thing is 2 kilometers long.  Some of the wood is supposed to be from Noah's ark which fits in with other legends that this area (or maybe a little further up the road) was where Noah's ark was supposed to have landed or Abraham sacrificed Ishmael, or where Moses talked to Pharoah.  In other words, it's likely been a significant spot at the end of the Muqattam hills for a long time.  1/15th of the Qur'an is included which is a crazy huge amount of writing.

You can see window grilles from the Lajin restoration.  As you continue down the quibla wall and come to the next one, look at the second window from the left.  Walk around to the next wall and the second window there is also Lajin.  There are more too, but it's easiest to just find these second from the left examples and you'll see the design that was used then.

As you continue around the mosque you'll see arches that had enough of their decoration remaining that they were able to be restored.  They are amazing.  This mosque has a lot of stucco and stamped plaster.  The Abbasids had started to use stamped plaster to quickly decorate buildings not long before Ibn Tulun and the technique worked nicely here. You can read more about this part of the restoration on the placards by the door.

The building was used for lots of things over time, or was abandoned. It was a favorite an a hospice and more things.  It was restored in 1890, 1929, and in 2000.  

At some point make sure to walk out to the dome covering the fountain.  It's also a Lajin addition. 

When you're finished, have your shoe covers removed and go back to the ziyada.  Turn left toward the minaret so you can climb it.  It's a lovely view over the city plus a unique minaret to climb.  The horseshoe arches at the base which look rather out of place were added later, and the tip of the minaret was added by Lagin.  But the spiral is original. You can also go out on the roof.

02 October 2018

Salar and Sangar al Gawli Complex

This complex includes (or included, since it's crumbling away) a mausoleum, khanqah, and madrasa at was built at the very beginning of the 14th century so it's right in the middle of the Bahri Mamluks (the more Turkic ones).  This is a really nice building and worth going to, especially since it's near Ibn Tulun.  It was restored in the late 1800s but hasn't been worked on since.  It's locked and you can only see the facade from the street, but even that alone is worth going for.  And if you look in the previous post, you'll see how you can climb up behind the complex to see inside a bit.

Ibn Tulun's destroyed barracks were here, at the end of the Muqattam hills.  He had cleared Christian and Muslim cemeteries in the area before he build his mosque and city here, which was a bit north of Fustat (and not by the Nile so some books I've read say that instead of the city being destroyed by the Abbasids when they took control of Egypt back from the Tulunids, the city was just abandoned because it wasn't in a great location).  Later, after the Fatimids built their exclusive royal city even further north, the area between al-Qahira and al-Fustat gradually filled in.

One of the most interesting parts of this building are the side-by-side domes which are common in Syria, where Sangar was governor, but not at all in Cairo.  The minaret is also interesting because you can see how it's in between Fatimid and Mamluk styles.

There is some really lovely decoration inside if you can find way there from the back including a long stone panel with nice carving.

01 October 2018

Sayyida Zaynab to Ibn Tulun

There's a lovely quote in an older Cairo guidebook that says that you need time to get to know Cairo, and that's what we're trying to do.  My usual pattern right now while it's still warm is to go out in the morning and come up when noon prayers start.  I go with my husband when he's not at work, or with my son when he's not volunteering.  And I go out with one or two other women to show them the parts of Cairo that the tours don't always go to, or to go at our own pace. 

This week we started at Sayyida Zaynab mosque, although we didn't go in there, and worked our way down to Ibn Tulun.  I'll do separate posts about Ibn Tulun and the complex of Salar and Sangar al-Sawli, but the rest can fit in one post if I restrain myself. 

I don't think I've mentioned sabil-kuttabs yet.  They're a Cairo thing and they are a popular public building.  The sabil is the public fountain, like I've mentioned before, and the kuttab is a Qur'anic school with the point being that they give water to people who are thirty and knowledge to people who want to learn.  It's a nice combination and they really are very common.  There's a sabil and sabil-kuttab along the road heading southeast from Midan Zaynab, both Ottoman. 

There's also the mosque of Gaqmaq.  It's a Mamluk-era mosque but the top of the minaret is finished with an Ottoman point so it's a bit distincirve.  Gaqmaq was relatively old when he became sultan and he wasn't a big spender so this mosque isn't as decorated as others.  Both times I've walked by the building has been locked but it was in the morning so it might be open later.  It was in the process of being restored 10 years ago, but we've noticed that doesn't always mean the restoration is complete (like with Qayt Bay) or that the building is open. 

Right next to Ibn Tulun is Amir Sarghatmish's madrasa.  It was build in the mid-1300s so it's almost 500 years newer than Ibn Tulun and about 50 years after the 13th-century restoration of Ibn Tulun.  This one was closed too both times I walked by, but I suspect it's open in the afternoon.  Amir Sarghatmish helped get Sultan Hasan out of prison after Hasan was put in prison for irritating everyone.  Hasan put Sarghatmish in prison a few years later and had him murdered.  Sultan Hasan built a really cool complex, but he wasn't a very nice man, along with most of the rest of the Mamluks.  Something I personally like about this building is the Central Asian vibe with the dome that bulges just a bit.  A lot of craftspeople from what is now northwestern Iran moved to Cairo after the Ilkhanids (they were in Iran, plus Turkey, the Caucasus, northern Levant, most of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, and some of Pakistan) collapsed in 1335 and worked for the Mamluks, bringing their styles.  If you go up the road a bit on the west side of the mosque (and you should, to get to Qayt Bay madrasa), you can see where the two buildings meet, 500 years separated in time but not at all in space.  I like those little pieces of history. There's also a nice view of Ibn Tulun's minaret.

Qayt Bay madrasa is a little harder to get to, but you are not allowed to skip it.   Contiuie along Ibn Tulun's wall from the point descrived above, then turn right on the first road which is Darb Tulun (I think it's marked, but I think it might have just been in Arabic, but it's pretty obvious).  Follow that till it ends, then turn right.  You'll be walking down a very typical Cairo street.  Feel free to stop and buy a snack or chat a bit with someone.  After you turn right, walk a bit and keep left, then walk a bit more and turn right on al Rahaba.  You should be able to see the minaret down the road to help you know where to turn.  This one was closed too but everyone told us it would be open in the afternoon and it's supposed to be very nicely decorated inside.  It has been restored, especially since it was damaged in the 1992 earthquake. It's hard to find any information about this one online because Qayt Bay was a prolific builder and people don't often see this one.

After you check out the madrasa, which is now used as a mosque, go down the little dirt road between buildings that goes off to the right at the first corner of the building.  That will take you to the back side of complex of Salar and Sangar al Gawli which I'll post about later.  This is the only way to see inside.  You should also be able to access this back side from the right fork of the road (you took the left fork above to get to Qayt Bay), but I've only tried this other way.  Here you're on the edge of the Muqattam Hills and you can look northwest toward the Cairo Tower, or north toward Fatimid Cairo, or east toward Sultan Hasan mosque and the Citadel. It's a good spot to be up a little higher in the middle of lots of interesting things in Cairo and can help orient you.