Ancient wall in Cairo
The ancient wall in Cairo was built as per vision of great leader and king Sultan Salahudheen Ayyoobi. This unique wall called “Magra El-Oyom” was constructed approximately 800 years ago.
Main purpose of the wall was to direct water from the Nile to the Salah Eddin Castle. It is a brilliant example of ancient Islamic engineering as it mechanically pumps water from the Nile via giant water wheels and carries the water over the channels inside the wall to the castle. Few sections of the wall are hollow which act as pipe build of stones to carry water. Anyhow the main course of water flow is trench cut channeled grove along the top of the wall. It is remarkable to note the architect’s design to channel water upwards from Nile to the Castle situated on Muqattam hill.
Dr. Gaballah Ali Gabballah, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt gives a brief history about the wall:
“The wall was built by Sultan Salah Eddin El-Ayuby. The purpose of this wall is to direct water coming from the Nile onwards up the hill where his Castle was built. The wall was built in 1193 AD. Nile water would pass through channels built on vaults in the Fom El-Khalig area till it reaches water wheels where it is then directed to its storage in deep castle wells. After numerous decades, these water wheels became non-functional and were neglected. Later, Sultan Mohamed Ben Kalawon repaired the wheels in two stages. The first stage was in 1310 AD. Six water wheels were built near El-Habash Lake. These water wheels would lift the Nile water to channels and from the channels to wells; wells which can still be seen to this day. The second stage of the Sultan’s restoration effort was in 1340 AD. A massive well was dug in El-Habash Lake, which is known today by the name of Establ Antar. Later on, Mohammed Ali Pasha converted this well into a artillery depot. The wall structure lies south of the Salah Eddin Castle. It starts from Sayed Aisha Square where there is the ancient Al-Karafa City Gate. Then the wall extends more south till it meets the Fom El-Khalig water channel. Then the wall reaches to the El-Safah City Gate then to the Zwayala City Gate. The wall then extends up to the Ain El-Sera hills down to El-Foustat antiquities area. Then the wall ends at the El- Kantara City Gate on the Nile. The entire length of the wall covers an area of 2.2 kilometers.”
Thanks to Egyptian rulers who kept the wall intact and had done required maintenance works over 800 years. Egypt is a country with full of great archeological wonders and antique monuments. Many dynasties ruled Egypt not only preserved existing structures but also added more. With modern commercial developments and industries in the surroundings of the wall, it is endangered to be crumbled down soon. Thanks to Egyptian government, as they have identified this risk and acted promptly to restore and rebuild the wall.
The ancient Magra El-Oyom Wall is a lesser known unique antiquity in Egypt which most tourists are not aware of. This 2.2 km ancient engineering system to elevate water and carry to higher places is considered a remarkable example of the ingenuity of ancient Islamic culture.