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Cairo: History
Islamic Cairo

Ayyubid Cairo

The founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, Salah al-Din ibn Ayyub, spent much of his reign fighting the Crusaders, and his main additions to the city were thus military. In 1176, he founded the Citadel (although the current buildings are mainly Ottoman: they have the distinctive pencil-shaped minarets in which the Ottomans specialized).

Salah al-Din also built a great city wall, parts of which can still be seen in Fustat and from the minaret of the Blue Mosque; he and his successors also founded many madrasas (religious schools) in al-Qahira and Fustat.

The only surviving one of these is the Madrasa and Mausoleum of Salih Ayyub on Sharia al-Muizz li-Din. Salih Ayyub, the last Ayyubid ruler, died before this complex was finished. His wife, Shaggarat al-Durr, who completed it for him, briefly became the only female ruler of Muslim Egypt before being beaten to death with wooden clogs for the murder of a rival claimant.
(Alison Gascoigne)


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