Mervat Thabet, general manager of the SCA’s projects sector, says restoration of the six mosques and sabils, (water fountains) is complete. The word sabil literally means the path or the way to God through the charity of offering water, since water in hot or desert regions is considered a godsend.
The cost of restoration was estimated at EGP26,300,000, and included lowering the level of groundwater, supporting the bases of the mosques, meticulous restoration of the wooden decorative elements, and upgrading the electricity systems. Five of the six monuments date back to the 14th century, while the Umm Abbas sabil dates from the 19th century.
The Sultan Shah mosque, which is located in Ghiet Street near to Abdin Palace, was established in 1365 by Sultan Shah, and was expanded in 1475 by Sultan Qaitbay.
Mrs Thabet said the Ahmed Koheih mosque was originally a hall established in 1310 by Prince Singer al-Gameqdar beside his mosque, which remained standing until 1345. It was later known as the Kordi Mosque. According to an inscription on a wooden beam in the roof, in 1740 the hall belonged to Ahmed Koheih who turned it into a mosque.
The Mas al-Hageb mosque has now been added to the tourist map of Islamic monuments in Cairo. It stands at the crossroad of Helmiya Street and district of Mas al-Hageb. The mosque was built in 1329AD (729H) by the Turkish prince Seifeddin al-Mas Ibn Abdullah, who was an Emir, a high-ranking military officer, of Sultan al-Nasser Mohamed Ibn Qala’wun. Mas in the Turkish language means ‘eternal’.
The Mustafa Fadil mosque and sabil, known as the Beshtak Mosque, is an architectural gem. It was built in 1336 AD (736H) by Prince Beshtak al-Nasseri, who was another Emir of Sultan Mohamed Ibn Qala’wun. The mosque was renovated by the mother of Mustafa Pasha Fadil, while Niazi Bey rebuilt it from inside and kept the old main gate that was built by Beshtak.
Mrs Thabet detailed the historical importance of the Umm Abbas sabil, which is located at the end of Siufiya Street and was built in the 19th century by the mother of Abbas Pasha, a cousin of Ismail Pasha. Its magnificence lies with its vast marble floors, while its roof is ornamented in gilt and its windows in yellow copper. Qur’anic verses are inscribed in gold lettering, and there is a study for children to learn reading, writing and other disciplines that were taught in the royal schools.
Another of the restored monuments is the Inal al-Youssefi school, which was established in the 14th century by Prince Inal Ibn Abdullah al-Youssefi al-Yelbughawi, a Mamluk Prince of Yalbugha who gradually rose to high position. His first responsibility was for the military band of the Sultan Ali Ibn al-Ashraf Shaaban, and later became silahdar (a Persian word that roughly translates as ‘weapon-bearer’), before becoming Atabek or Atabey (a compound of two Turkish words: from ata [ancestor], and bek or bey (leader, prince). When he died in 1391, Inal was buried elsewhere, but according to a decree of Sultan Barqouq, a dome was especially erected onto the school where his relics were moved in 1492.