In 969 the Fatimid dynasty established Cairo as their capital, near the site from which ibn Tulun and his successors enjoyed brief independence, ruling Egypt and Syria (868–905). Ibn Tulun’s city was razed to the ground (905), when the Abbasids reasserted control, but his mosque survived. By the 12th century, from visitors’ accounts, Cairo was a princely city of wide boulevards and green spaces. Over the next century, under first Ayyubid then Mamluk rule, it was transformed. By Al-Nasir’s time, it was a bustling metropolis, with choked, narrow streets and a busy port (Bulaq), all administered from the citadel built by Saladin. Suburbs spilled beyond the city walls, gated at Bab-Zuwaylah. Beyond the bustle, traveller Ibn Jubeir adjudged the tranquil precincts of famed scholar Imam Shafi’l’s tomb a ‘wonder of the world’. The Mosque of ‘Amr was built in 641 where a dove laid a propitious egg in the tent of Muslim general ‘Amr before a great victory.
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