Khan el-Khalili

Cairo, Egypt

Khan el-Khalili


Khan el-Khalili (Arabic: خان الخليلي) is a famous bazaar and souq (or souk) in the historic center of Cairo, Egypt. Established as a center of trade in the Mamluk era and named for one of its several historic caravanserais, the bazaar district has since become one of Cairo's main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike. It is also home to many Egyptian artisans and workshops involved in the production of traditional crafts and souvenirs. The name Khan el-Khalili historically referred to a single building in the area; today it refers to the entire shopping district.

Cairo was originally founded in 969 CE as a capital for the Fatimid Caliphate, an empire which by then covered much of North Africa and parts of the Levant and the Hijaz. Jawhar Al-Siqilli, the general who conquered Egypt for the Fatimids, was ordered to construct a great palace complex to house the caliphs, their household, and the state's institutions. Two palaces were eventually completed: an eastern one (the largest of the two) and a western one, between which was a plaza known as Bayn al-Qasrayn ("Between the Two Palaces"). The site of Khan el-Khalili today was originally the southern end of the eastern Fatimid palace as well as the location of the burial site of the Fatimid caliphs: a mausoleum known as Turbat az-Za'faraan ("the Saffron Tomb").: 57  Also located here was a lesser palace known as al-Qasr al-Nafi'i (today the site of the 19th-century Wikala of Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar).

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