Tuesday, March 17, 2015

News, Cairo: Leaning minaret on downtown Cairo mosque to be restored

Fatma Al-Shaqraa Mosque in downtown Cairo, with its now-famous leaning minaret, is to be restored. Written by Nevine El-Aref

After two years of conservation work at the Fatma Al-Shaqraa mosque, its leaning minaret is to be straightened. Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that an archaeological team had finally completed all investigations into the minarets condition and restoration work will begin in collaboration with the Ministry of Endowments. The restoration will be undertaken within the framework of the Historic Cairo rehabilitation project which is in its third phase, he added.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz of the ministry’s Islamic monuments department, explained that the mosque had been restored except for the minaret, which is leaning some 12cm. The mosque, which is located in the Babul-Khalq area of Cairo, was built in 1477 CE by Rashideddin Al-Bahaai for Fatma Al-Shaqraa, the wife of the Sultan Qaytbey.

During the Ottoman period, the mosque was renovated and renamed the Maraa Mosque, the Women’s Mosque, instead. The mosque has two tombs, one dedicated to Al-Shaqraa and the other dedicated to an unknown person. Time has taken its toll on the mosque since its last restoration, and before its present rehabilitation cracks had spread in its walls, its masonry had been broken, and water had leaked over its floors.

When in 1992, the mosque’s minaret started to lean some 12cm, the Ministry of Antiquities stepped in to consolidate it with wooden and iron scaffolding. This restoration work then stopped until 2004 when work resumed on the mosque, without, however, treating the problem of the leaning minaret. But the masonry was repaired, the walls consolidated and the cracks restored.

The mosque’s minaret remains in a dangerous condition, and earlier in 2013 the ministry assigned an archaeological committee to inspect its condition in order to undertake the required procedures for restoration.
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