Guide to a Perfect trip in Egypt!
The Sabil was founded by Abdel Rahman Katkhuda. This odd structure doesn't look like any other islamic monument. Years ago, I went to visit the Sabil and was disappointed to find that it was closed for restoration by the Egyptian government with the aid of the German Institute for Eastern Antiquities in Cairo. I have visited the Mu’iz Street, where the Sabil is located, several times during these two years and every time I view the building from outside because it was still closed. In November of the year 2007, finally, the Sabil was opened for public.
The Sabil is located in the Mu’iz Street, in its second part starting with the Azhar Street and ending the Fetooh gate at the other side. Everybody that passes through the street notices this Sabil for two reasons. Its strange structure immediately catches the eye, and it's in the middle of the street dividing the street afterwards into two lanes: the right one leads at the end to the back of the Aqmar Mosque, built in 1125 AD, and the Bazara’a Wikala, while the other one continues till the end of the street at the Fetooh Gate.
Amir Abdel Rahman Katkhuda was the most talented architecture of his time, and his Sabil Kuttab is the best concrete evidence of his talent. It is known that he restored around thirty monuments in Cairo. He was also the leader of the Egyptian
Janissaries at his time.
The Sabil Kuttab of Abdel Katkhuda was built in 1744 AD and it has two floors: the first floor is the Sabil where fresh water was kept for people to drink from, and the second floor is the Kuttab where students used to attend classes studying Quran and the Islamic teachings. The Sabil Kuttab provides the two commands of the prophet Mohamed, water for the thirsty and spiritual teaching. In the back of this monument, there is a three stores building now used as a residential property and it is not open for public visiting
This Sabil has a special architecture importance as it perfectly displays the magnificence of the Mamluk art. The door to the Sabil is located in the Southern Eastern part of the building. The Sabil room is a rectangular shape with three large beautifully decorated windows. Under each window, there is a large basin where fresh water was kept.
The walls of the Sabil room are decorated with unique blue ceramic with some Islamic inscriptions. There is also a drawing on the Eastern wall of the room of Mecca where Muslims go every year for pilgrimage. The ceiling of the Sabil is the most attractive among its architecture as it is designed with colorful brown and blue paintings. One can stare at the ceiling of this room until his neck aches.
The second floor, the Kuttab, has five marble columns holding the startling carved wooden roof. There are no walls for this room as all of it is covered with Mashrabeya windows brilliantly manufactured to fit the room. There is also a fine carved wooden cupboard in this room where they used to keep the holy book of Quran. The scenery looking out of the Kuttab is impressive as one can see the dome and minaret of the Barquq complex, the complex of Qalaun, and the Mashrabeya windows in the Beshtaq palace.
The Sabil Kuttab is well ornamented from outside with colorful marble outlines that are richly set above the windows of the building in a form of a jigsaw. The three windows of the Sabil looks glorious from outside with its huge size and distinctive design. The second floor looks appealing from outside with the dark brown color of its Mashrabeya windows that are skillfully decorated.
The Sabil Kuttab of Abdel Katkhuda is one of these many monuments spread around the area of Khan El Khalili and very few tourists know about them. Any tourist who is interested in the Islamic architecture must visit the famous Street of Al Mui’z, where the vast city of Cairo was once only located in this street between Bab Zeweila in the South and Bab Al Fetooh in the North. This is why this area is rich will all types of Islamic buildings like mosques, Sabils, Madrasas, and Wikalas.