NileGuide Expert Says:
The Street of the Tentmakers is one of the most fascinating markets in Cairo, and well worth the short walk from Khan al-Khalili.
NileGuide Expert tip:
The Street of the Tentmakers is a great place to pick up scarves and shawls that are much cheaper than at nearby Khan al-Khalili.
The Street of the Tentmakers is a beautiful covered market that extends a hundred yards or so south of Bab Zwayla
. Souq al-Khiamiyya, as the Street of the Tentmakers is also known, is the only covered market left in Cairo, and dates back to the 17th Century.
Walking down the narrow alleyway feels like stepping back into medieval Cairo, with each simple stall hewn in to solid stone walls, and fronted by a wooden shutter. The tentmakers here have plied their trade for hundreds of years, hand-crafting the colourful appliqué wall-hangings that were traditionally used to decorate Arabic tents. With the demise of the nomadic lifestyle, this noble craft is also dying out, but the Street of the Tentmakers is one of the few places in the Arab world where it still survives.
There aren't so many actual tents on sale now, but this is the best place in Cairo to buy wall hangings, cushion covers, bedspreads and the like. As well as more traditional geometric patterns, you can also find pharaonic designs and other pictures. Almost everything here is bold, brightly coloured, and made by hand.
Best of all, although you are only about a twenty minute walk from the bustle of Khan al-Khalili
, prices in the Street of the Tentmakers are much lower. As a final bonus, the craftsmen in the bazaar are really friendly, and more than happy to sit and chat about their work.