CAIRO (Reuters) – A ramshackle 13th-century mosque that over the years served as a soap factory, slaughterhouse and castle reopened in Cairo on Monday after a long restoration.
Al-Zahir Baibars Mosque, built under Mamluk rule in 1268, sprawls over three acres north of central Cairo, making it the third largest mosque in Egypt.
Tariq Muhammad al-Buhairi, who supervised the restoration work, said that the mosque underwent a mechanical and chemical restoration process to restore it to its original condition.
“Some parts were destroyed and some were dismantled because they were structurally unsuitable to remain in the mosque,” he added.
He added, “But we were very careful, even in the reconstruction process, to work in the correct archaeological style.”
The restoration, which cost $7.68 million, was jointly funded by Kazakhstan and began in 2007.
For 225 years, the mosque was closed, abandoned or exploited for non-religious purposes which contributed to its destruction.
During Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, it was used as a military fortress, and then under Ottoman rule in the 19th century as a soap factory. Later, when the British invaded Egypt in 1882, it was used as a slaughterhouse.
Al-Zahir Baybars was a prominent figure in Egyptian history, and he is credited with establishing Mamluk rule in Egypt, which lasted for three centuries until 1517.
(Cover) Yazan Kalash Writing by Adam McCary Editing by Aidan Lewis and Angus McSwan
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