Deep down a winding dead-end back alley in the Cairo district of Bulaq, so hidden that few people apart from the residents themselves ever see it, lies an exquisite arched gateway made of ornamental stone. Bulaq is full of such treasures, although often hard to find beginning in the 15th century it was Cairo’s wealthy port on the Nile, when the spice trade and later the coffee trade to Europe passed through Egypt. As such it was chock-a-block with well-built warehouses, merchant lodgings and religious structures. In 1979, it was one of about a dozen Cairo neighbourhoods placed on Unesco’s World Heritage List. The gateway is in the Mameluke style, indicating it may have been built as long as 500 years ago.
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