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Photo Essay: The City of a Thousand Minarets

August 28, 2010
Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta

While driving around in Cairo, you need to keep your eyes on the road and on the ground, damn dangerous otherwise, but if you raise your eyes, you get to see some lovely sights, mainly minarets in all shapes and sizes. I love them. As the Arabic saying goes, they are the gates from Earth to Heaven. Something about the tall, slender towers is just so uplifting. Growing up in Bhopal meant that these are very familiar to me, the lovely lilting calls of the muezzin from the tops, calling the faithful to prayer, what is not to like? Bhopal has one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of the smallest (see here for some examples).

Mind you, I am also reminded of a mosque in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia which had a minaret which overlooked the Intercontinental Hotel beach. The damn muezzin over there would spend the entire time fulminating about the ungodly infidel foreigners who would be cavorting on the beach in their shorts and bikinis. Anyway, back to Cairo. Here are some of the photographs I took of the various minarets. There are many more in the succeeding photo essays of Islamic Cairo, but that’s for later. Here is the full slideshow with higher resolutions.
Minarets,Cairo
I call these minarets as the drumstick ones, tall narrow ones but with a bulbous top.

Minarets,Cairo
Two Fatimid minarets fronted with a streetlight pole.

Minarets,Cairo
A row of streetlights and in the middle, almost hidden, are two impossibly slim minarets.

Minarets,Cairo
A lovely light green, extremely slim, highly carved minaret. Never seen anything like this.

Minarets,Cairo
An Ottoman era minaret in the middle of high rises

Minarets,Cairo
A much more modern minaret with angular concrete construction.

Minarets,Cairo
A short, highly carved stone minaret with a balcony around it.

Minarets,Cairo
I felt so sad for this minaret. It is breaking down, rotting away in the middle of a construction zone. You can see the top bent, lost tiles and you can see through it. Very sad. These are the Ottoman era minarets, also called as a pencil minaret.

Minarets,Cairo
Another minaret in a totally different style, with a dome and a columned room on top.

Minarets,Cairo
Another lovely little minaret. The top is supported on four very slender legs. Imagine the difficult construction of this lovely architectural gem.

Minarets,Cairo
A well maintained Ottoman Minaret. These are also called as stone candle minarets.

Minarets,Cairo

Finally we come to another minaret, very richly carved, fronted with another lamp post and trees. As I mentioned above, I spent the day trundling around Cairo and there are quite a lot of minarets, more in the later photo essays. But the feeling still exists, standing below these tall slender columns of stone and brick, reaching up the skies, carrying our prayers from our hearts to the ear of God. Lovely. For those who want to learn more about this, here is a good article. There a book on Minarets of Cairo which is going to come out later on, have put that on my wish list. Cant wait.

Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta works in the city of London in various capacities in the financial sector. He has worked and travelled widely around the world. The articles in here relate to his current studies and are strictly his opinion and do not reflect the position of his past or current employer(s). If you do want to blame somebody, then blame my sister and editor, she is responsible for everything, the ideas, the writing, the quotes, the drive, the israeli-palestinian crisis, global warming, the ozone layer depletion and the argentinian debt crisis.
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Photo Essay: The City of a Thousand Minarets

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  • » Published on August 28, 2010
  • » Type: News
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Author: Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta

 

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