Muhammad 'Abduh Street
11211 Cairo, Egypt
tel: +20 (0)2 2285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 2285 4363 (Tourist Information)
NileGuide Expert tip:
The free Sufi dancing show at the Wikala al-Ghouri is well worth attending, but make sure you arrive early to avoid disappointment.
The Wikalet al-Ghouri, in Islamic Cairo
, was built in the 16th Century by Qansuh al-Ghouri, the penultimate Mamluk sultan. A Wikala was a warehouse and merchants hostel, and the Wikalet al-Ghouri has been carefully restored. You have to pay 15 LE to enter.
It is very complete, with a huge open courtyard and a maze of stairs and passageways leading around the different floors. There is a marble fountain in the middle of the courtyard. Many of the old rooms have been turned into miniature crafts centres, and it's possible to see workers producing leather ware, jewellery, paintings and so on. The combination of dark mashrabia windows on each room, and the striped marble building materials, is very effective; and although the Wikala al-Ghouri is very simple, it is deceptively beautiful.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evening there is a free Sufi dancing show held in the courtyard. The show begins at 8.30 pm, though if possible you should arrive when the doors open at 6.30 pm, to make sure you get in.
The show is incredible: the dancers spin in place, whipping their brightly coloured skirts into a mesmerising kaleidoscope of patterns. At the end of the dance, they simply walk off without a wobble, as if they haven't just been spinning around in a circle for ages. It's dizzying just watching them!
Wikalet al-Ghouri is just behind al-Azhar Mosque
, pretty much opposite Khan al-Khalili
and a short walk away from the Street of the Tentmakers