Bab al-Futuh (Arabic: باب الفتوح, lit. ‘Conquest Gate’) is one of three remaining gates in the city wall of the old city of Cairo, Egypt. It is located at the northern end of al-Mu’izz Street. The other two remaining gates are Bab al-Nasr (Victory Gate) in the north and Bab Zuwayla (Gate of Zuwayla) in the south. The gate was built during the Fatimid period, originally in the 10th century, then rebuilt in its current form in the late 11th century.
When Cairo originally founded in 969 by the Fatimid general Jawhar, on behalf of Caliph al-Mu’izz. It surrounded by a set of city walls built in brick and pierced by multiple gates. Later, during the reign of Caliph al-Mustansir, the vizier and army commander Badr al-Gamali rebuilt the city walls and its gates in stone. The present gate thus completed in 1087, along with the neighbouring Bab al-Nasr gate. Bab al-Futuh originally called Bab al-Iqbal, or “the Gate of Prosperity”, but given its present name when Badr al-Gamali reconstructed it.
Architecture of Bab al-Futuh
In fact, the gate is 22 metres (72 ft) tall 23 metres (75 ft) wide. The lower two thirds of the gate are built in solid stone, while the upper third was built in rubble stone encased in by solid, finely dressed stone. The gate has a defensive design and its entrance flanked by two tall towers of round shape. Its decoration and craftsmanship are more extensive and of higher quality than that of nearby Bab al-Nasr. The details of its stonework also suggest the influence of northern Syrian or Byzantine architectural traditions or craftsmen.
On its outer façade, the gate’s entrance surmounted by a splayed arch covered by a stone-carved pattern of lozenges with rosette and cross motifs inside them. Above this is an overhanging section that projects outward from the wall between the towers. This feature was a predecessor of the machicoulis. The overhang is supported on stone brackets, two of which are carved with the shape of ram’s head, a symbol of Mars in the zodiac (known in Arabic as al-Qahir and associated with the founding of Cairo, called al-Qahira). Between the brackets are stone-carved rectangles with decorative such as vegetal designs and an eight-pointed star.
Details above the gate
Blind arch with “cushion” voussoirs on the inner side of the flanking towers
Detail of the stone brackets of the overhang above the gate
Inner side of Bab al-Futuh
Inner side of Bab al-Futuh (more distant view with upper level visible)
A part of the Fatimid-era Kufic inscription on the walls east of the gate