A mosque on Moez Street shines golden in the sun as seen through an archway lined with vendors.

Moez Street in Cairo: An Ultimate Local’s Guide

Moez is a kilometer-long street in Islamic Cairo lined with treasures of medieval architecture – from splendid mosques to historic homes and palaces.

It’s also bustling with local vendors, street food wagons and mazes of narrow sidestreets where tall minarets peak out above the rooftops.

Moez Street is adjacent to the famous Khan el Khalili souq, a medieval bazaar that’s now a bustling tourist destination. It also has countless shops with handmade crafts and souvenirs – which means you can combine your historic sightseeing with some shopping.

Elaborate lanterns piled high and lit in colors of blue, orange and red at a shop in Khan el Khalili.

And it’s an incredible spot to explore Egypt’s vibrant street life and glorious medieval past.

Moez Street starts at Bab al-Futuh and ends a kilometer later at another enormous gate (Bab Zuweila) that once contained the historic walls of the city. It’s a pedestrian-only street teeming with local life – and it really comes alive at night.

But where do you begin to explore this medieval marvel? And how to avoid the hassles and tourist traps?

Dee near Moez Street walking and smiling toward the camera with an arched doorway in the background.

I’m an expat living for over a decade in Cairo and Moez is one of my favorite areas to explore the city’s architectural gems – despite the pushy vendors of Khan el Khalili.

And this is my ultimate guide to Moez Street – including must-see historical sites, hidden gems and insider tips.

What is the history of Moez Street?

A historic painting of Moez Street in Cairo showing a street lined with homes with mashrabiya windows and tall minarets in the distance.
Roberts, David. The Gate of Metwaley. 1838, Berger Collection, Denver.

Moez Street is a UNESCO heritage site that was Cairo’s most important and prestigious artery for centuries.

Moez Street is part of Islamic Cairo because it was founded by the Fatimids, a Shia dynasty that ruled North Africa. It’s not to be confused with Old Cairo, which is the Coptic part of the city that’s a few centuries older.

Moez Street was founded in the 10th century by the Fatimid Caliph al-Moez li-Din Allah. And each successive ruling dynasty left their mark on this winding thoroughfare right up until the 19th-century Ottomans.

Though the transfer of power seldom flowed smoothly. And that means the history of Moez Street is full of intrigues, plots and dramas. And the stories behind the monuments are often shocking, fascinating or delightful (or all of the above).

Moez Street architecture

Most of the historic sites you’ll see along Moez Street are either from the Fatimid, Mamluk or Ottoman dynasties.

Who are these dynasties, and how can you tell them apart?

The Fatimids (969-1171)

Two images show Fatimid architecture. On the left is Azhar Mosque with white columns and an ornate minaret. On the left is a painted seated figure wearing a bright shirt and a turban.

  • The Fatimid Caliphate was a Shia dynasty originating from Tunisia that spanned the Mediterranean and eventually made Egypt the center of their rule. They traced their ancestry to the prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, the first Shia Imam.
  • Known for their religious tolerance, they nevertheless couldn’t convince the Egyptian population to adopt their Shia beliefs.
  • Fatimid art and architecture is known for lively figurative motifs and beautiful Kufic script for Arabic inscriptions.

The Mamluks (1250-1517)

Two images show Mamluk architecture. On the left is the entrance of a Mamluk-era mosque in Cairo with a tall and ornate doorway. On the right is a Mamluk dressed in a white turban and a long red vest and puffy blue pants.

  • The Mamluk Sultanate was an ethnically diverse dynasty, mostly of Turkic origin, who first served as slave soldiers and eventually gained control of several Muslim states.
  • Known for their skills in horse riding and archery, the Mamluks were a class of slave warriors who came to rule an empire.
  • Mamluks were skilled artisans known for their carved wood and glass work, which inspired craftsmen as far away as Venice.

The Ottomans (1517-1867)

Two images show the Ottoman Empire. On the left is a series of white domes at the mosque inside the Cairo Citadel. On the right is Ottoman ruler Muhammed Ali Pasha.

  • The Ottoman Empire was created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and rose to become one of the world’s most powerful states. They famously captured Constantinople and ruled over three continents with a well-disciplined military.
  • Ottoman architecture is known for its imperial palaces, gardens and grand mosques (with their characteristic pencil-shaped minarets).

Planning your visit

A view of two minarets and a dome on Moez Street through an arch with lamps hanging from it.

If you want a deep dive into all this medieval history, then hire a good tour guide and plan for at least a half day of sightseeing.

You can also easily visit Moez Street on your own. Just start at Bab al-Futuh and end your walking tour at the tentmaker’s market.

You can take a stroll and admire the architecture along Moez Street.

Moez Street tickets

A sign outside the ticket booth at the Qalawun complex in Cairo shows prices of tickets in English and Arabic.
Ticket prices, 2024.

Moez Street is a pedestrian-only walkway that’s completely free to enter. It runs through a working-class neighborhood so you’ll spot local grocers, mechanics and hardware shops amid the tourist stands.

Moez Street is lined with dozens of historic mosques, monuments and palaces.

Many of the mosques are free to enter and you can visit outside of prayer times (just bring a scarf to cover your head and take your shoes off to enter). Mosques like Sultan Al-Ashraf or al-Ghuri are working and functioning mosques – so you’ll see locals inside praying, reading or napping (during Ramadan). The mosque caretaker inside will often show you around, unlock a mausoleum if there’s one attached and help you with photos. I always tip them generously.

Other historic sites along Moez Street require tickets to enter.

The first major ticketed site is Bayt al-Suhaymi (180 EGP), a fascinating Ottoman-era residential home turned museum. Buy your ticket to Bayt al-Suhaymi either at the entrance or at the little ticket booth opposite the Qalawun Complex.

The second major ticketed site is the “Monuments of al-Muizz ticket” (180), which grants you entry to the Qalawun Complex plus 7 other sites around Moez Street. You can buy the “Monuments of al-Muizz” ticked at the ticket booth opposite the Qalawun Complex. It includes entry to the nearby Qalawun Mosque, the Barqouk Mosque, Hammam Inal, al-Silahdar and Amir Beshtak Palace, among others.

Just like most other monuments around Egypt, tickets are credit/debit payment only and no cash.

How to get there

A man with a child on a motorcycle riding across a small street in Khan el Khalili.

Take an Uber to Bab al-Futuh, which is an easy drop-off point on a wide and busy street. Enter through the gate and you’ll be straight on Moez Street.

If you want to focus more on shopping at Khan el Khalili and visit Moez Street afterwards, then get dropped off at Azhar Mosque and both Moez and Khan el Khalili are nearby.

Best things to see on Moez Street:

Two images show Moez Street in Cairo. On the left is a man walking down a narrow street with old historic buildings looming tall above him. On the right is a closeup of an ornate arched doorway with a dark wooden door.

This is my ultimate list of all the must-see sites and monuments along Moez Street.

It’s organized by location so it goes in order from the start of the street at Bab al-Futuh to its end at the Tentmaker’s market.

Follow this list on your walking tour for all the must-see sites!

1. Bab al-Futuh

The enormous Bab al-Futuh in Cairo stands tall with two big towers and slit windows.

10th century, Fatimid | free | on the map

This enormous 10th-century stone gate marks the entrance to Moez Street. And it’s a great spot for an Uber drop-off to begin your walking tour.

It’s one of three remaining gates of Islamic Cairo.

The line of Bab al Futuh as it stretches to the tall minaret of the Hakim Mosque in Islamic Cairo.

Intricate details and decorations in the inner part of Bab al Futuh in Islamic Cairo.

Bab al-Futuh is flanked by two enormous towers and has beautiful stonework inspired by Syrian and Byzantine architecture. Look up as you’re passing and don’t miss it.

2. Bab al-Nasr

Bab al Nasr in Islamic Cairo stands tall with an arched entrance flanked by two square towers.

11th century, Fatimid | free | on the map

Don’t miss the beautiful Bab al-Nasr, an 11th-century gate just a short walk from Bab al-Futuh and the entrance to Moez Street.

Bab al-Nasr is one of Islamic Cairo’s three remaining gates. It has arrow slits where defenders shot projectiles at their enemies below. And there are also carvings with the names of Napoleon’s officers near the upper levels of the gate.

For more: Bab al-Nasr: An Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

3. Hakim Mosque

Hakim Mosque

10th century, Fatimid | free | on the map

Built by a controversial caliph (who some consider insane), this 11th-century mosque has very unique minarets and a beautiful courtyard with flowing green curtains.

It’s one of my favorite mosques in Cairo with its unique architecture and quiet atmosphere.

There are shady benches in front where you can rest under orange flowered trees and watch kids playing soccer under the mosque’s walls. It’s generally less crowded here than in central Khan el Khalili.

Inside the mosque, there’s a rectangular open courtyard with parallel columns running on all sides draped with long and flowing green curtains. The unique minarets, built in the North African style of the Fatimids, are topped by a cylindrical body.

hakim mosque cairo

Hakim Mosque

  • Hakim Mosque was built in 992 by the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, sometimes called the “mad caliph” for his cruelties and bizarre rulings. He once famously banned molokhia, a famous Egyptian dish, and forbade shoemakers from making footwear for women (since they should stay home).
  • Through the centuries, the mosque was used as a prison for captured Crusaders, as a stable by Saladin, as a fortress by Napoleon (when the minarets were used as watchtowers), and as a local school.
  • It’s been lovingly restored by the Indian Bohra Shiites (the Fatimids were Shia).

4. Mosque-Sabil of Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar

The tall minaret of the Silahdar mosque in Islamic Cairo peaks out from a narrow street lined with historic buildings. Some locals are sitting on a nearby bench and walking by.

The facade of the Silahdar mosque and sabil is ornate with calligraphy, woodwork and intricate carvings.

19th century, Ottoman | tickets: included in the Qalawun ticket (100 EGP) | open 9am-5pm | on the map

This small complex includes a mosque with a conical minaret and a beautiful sabil (public drinking fountain) in an ornate Ottoman Baroque style.

The facade of the sabil is adorned with white marble and Turkish calligraphy in the Ottoman style.

The interior with blue window shudders and a big chandelier of the Silahdar sabil in Islamic Cairo,

The interior of the sabil has tall intricate windows, blue details and an ornate glass chandelier.

5. Bayt al-Suhaymi

Bayt al-Suhaymi

17th century, Ottoman | tickets: 80 EGP | open 9am-5pm | on the map

Bayt al-Suhaymi is a historic Ottoman-era home turned into a museum featuring mashrabiya windows, marble floors and period furniture. It offers a fascinating look at everyday life in 17th-century Cairo.

Nestled in a quiet alley just off Moez Street, Bayt al-Suhaymi has a breezy palm-lined courtyard from which you can admire all the fine mashrabiya.

Bayt al-Suhaymi

Bayt al-Suhaymi

Bayt al-Suhaymi is one of my favorite spots to experience the atmosphere of historic Cairo – and to take a break from sightseeing the district’s many mosques. It’s been lovingly restored and much of the wooden furniture and ceiling decor is still intact.

Bayt al-Suhaymi

Don’t miss the haramlik section, the private spaces for women. The women enjoyed views of the house guests in the courtyard while being concealed behind wooden screens. There’s also a beautiful room full of blue tiles and lined with ornate ceramics.

6. Aqmar Mosque

Aqmar Mosque

12th century, Fatimid | free | on the map

Aqmar Mosque is tiny by Moez Street standards. But it has a stunning facade that looks especially magical illuminated at night.

Aqmar Mosque catches your eye as you stroll down Moez Street. It’s very well-known for its intricate facade.

aqmar mosque

Aqmar Mosque

  • Appropriately named the “moonlit” mosque, it was built in 1126 by a Fatimid vizier.
  • It served as the neighborhood mosque for local residents and the inhabitants of the nearby Fatimid Great Palace.
  • It didn’t originally feature a minaret – probably to prevent people from climbing up to get views of the caliph’s palaces. A Mamluk amir later added a minaret.

Spend some time marveling at the facade’s lavish decorations including intricate niches, shell shaped recesses, Quranic inscriptions, abstract symbols and radiating stars.

And step inside the beautiful and airy courtyard, uniquely restored in a yellow pastel.

7. Sabil-Kuttab of Katkhuda

A view of the Katkhuda sabil in Islamic Cairo shows a square tall building at the fork of two streets with an intricate facade and wooden balconies.

18th century, Ottoman | open 9am-5pm | on the map

This regal free-standing building at the fork of Moez Street contains a public water fountain (sabil) and an elementary school (kuttab) for local children.

Built by an Egyptian emir and patron of the arts, this sabil-kuttab boasts an ornate facade and a tiled interior in the Mamluk Egyptian style.

A detail of the facade of the sabil of Katkhuda shows intricate woodwork, mashrabiya and stone carvings.

Wealthy patrons often built sabils for local residents before running water became freely available in Cairo.

8. Beshtak Palace

The lavish reception hall of the Beshtak Palace in Islamic Cairo has tall columns, arches and a chandelier.

(photo: Mohammed Moussa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons) 

14th century, Mamluk | tickets: included in the Qalawun ticket (100 EGP) | open 9am-5pm | on the map

A closeup of the Beshtak Palace reception hall in Islamic Cairo with arched windows and woodwork.

This lavish palace was built by a Mamluk emir and features a reception hall with a wooden ceiling, stucco windows and a fountain with inlaid marble.

9. Hammam Inal

The interior of the Hamam Inal in Islamic Cairo shows arched recesses and a domed ceiling with speckled holes filled with colored glass.

The changing room of the hammam inal in Islamic Cairo is lined with pastel blue ironwork and a tall ceiling that lets in a lot of light.

15th century, Mamluk | tickets: included in the Qalawun ticket (100 EGP) | open 9am-5pm | on the map

This beautiful public bathhouse (hammam) is one of the few hammams in Cairo that have survived well-preserved into the current day. There were about 80 hammams that survived to the end of the 19th century, though just a few are still open today.

Hammam Inal underwent a long restoration and opened again to visitors as a historic monument.

10. Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Barquq

The interior of the Barquq Mosque in Islamic Cairo features an enormous arch and an ornamented wooden ceiling and a domed station (for washing) in the middle.

(photo: Moh hakem, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

14th century, Mamluk | | tickets: included in the Qalawun ticket (100 EGP) | open 9am-5pm | on the map

This 14th century mosque and madrasa is considered one of the masterpieces of Mamluk architecture, constructed right around a major Mamluk regime change.

11. Qalawun Complex

The tall minaret and dome of the Qalawun complex loom over Moez Street.

13th century, Mamluk | tickets: 100 EGP | open 9am-5pm | on the map

The Qalawun Complex is one of the major monuments of Islamic Cairo – and one of the gems along the famous Moez Street in Khan el Khalili.

This massive complex was built by a Mamluk sultan in the 13th century. And it’s incredibly rich in its scope and architecture.

It contains a hospital, madrasa and a mausoleum considered to be one of the most stunning in the world – and second only to the Taj Mahal.

But miraculously the complex only took about a year to build, thanks to the sultan’s disciplined leagues of slave labor.

The tall minaret and dome of the Qalawun complex loom over a small sidestreet.

qalawun mosque

The mausoleum’s mihrab (a niche in the wall pointing to Mecca) is considered the most splendid of its kind. Flanked by three marble columns, it’s embellished with ornate geometric patterns.

You can easily spend an hour or two exploring this vast complex and savoring the intricacies of Mamluk architecture. It’s definitely the highlight of any Medieval Cairo itinerary.

12. Sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay Mosque

Outside the entrance to the Sultan al Ashraf Barsbay mosque, which has an enormous and tall stone entrance and some children selling souvenirs outside.

The interior of the Sultan al Ashraf Barsbay mosque on Moez Street in Cairo shows two raised iwans (tall arches) bathed in sunlight and half in shadow.

15th century, Mamluk | free | on the map

This complex is known for marble and stained-glass windows.

13. Sultan Al-Ghuri Complex

The Sultan Al-Ghuri Complex in Islamic Cairo is tall and ornate with a massive wooden roof connecting two buildings.

16th century, Mamluk | free | on the map

The majestic Sultan Al-Ghuri Complex, an ornate Mamluk gem completed in 1505, includes a mausoleum, mosque and madrasa.

It’s on a bustling street that once housed a silk market. Today the pathway is packed with vendors selling rolls of fabric, seasonal fruit and kitchen knick-knacks.

The interior is overflowing with the lavish patters typical of Mamluk style. There are soaring ceilings and geometric lamps suspended from long chains. Rich panels repeat patterns of black and white marble.

The inside of the Sultan Al-Ghuri Complex in Cairo has tall ornate arches and a marble floor with circular designs.

And while it’s not a massive mosque, it’s a true delight to explore.

Outside you can see its unique square minaret topped by five bulbs.

Al-Ghuri, the second last of the Mamluk sultans, was described as cruel and superstitious. But he had a soft spot for music and poetry. He was a great patron of architecture despite the miserable economy of his age. And though Al-Ghuri died in battle, he was never buried in the mausoleum he erected.

14. Mosque of Sultan al-Muayyad

Mosque of Sultan al-Muayyad

15th century, Mamluk | free | on the map

The Mosque of Sultan al-Muayyad, right next to Bab Zuweila, has a fascinating story behind it.

It was once a terrifying prison where al-Muayyad suffered badly from lice and fleas. He vowed to turn it into a “saintly place for the education of scholars” if he ever rose to power. When he became sultan, al-Muayyad kept his word and commissioned the mosque in 1415. Construction took some 100 workers about 7 years to complete.

Mosque of Sultan al-Muayyad

His reign was troubled by the Bubonic plague and rebellious bedouins. But al-Muayyad managed to complete one of Cairo’s best examples of Mamluk architecture.

The Sultan died as a humble man and great patron of architecture.

The main entrance is decorated with carved marble and calligraphy. The door is a intricate bronze work, although it was actually taken from the Mosque of Sultan Hassan.

Inside, the al-Muayyad Mosque is the last great hypostyle mosque built in Cairo with a roof supported by rows of columns. It’s one of the most elaborately decorated mosques of its time. Don’t miss the marble columns and large pavilion with an ablution fountain.

15. Bab Zuweila

bab zuweila

11th century, Fatimid | tickets: 40 EGP | on the map

Bab Zuweila is one of the few remaining gates of the city wall that encircled 11th-century Cairo. It’s topped by two minarets that were added on by a Mamluk sultan in the 15th century.

And you can climb to the top for some great views of the old city.

The steep stairs are quite a workout. But it’s worth it for the sweeping views of Fatimid Cairo and the surrounding minarets. It’s especially magical during the call to prayer.

bab zuweila

Vyacheslav Argenberg, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

bab zuweila
The view from the top: rooftops strewn with satellite dishes and some of Cairo’s most historic minarets.
  • The towers of Bab Zuweila were once used to scope out approaching enemy troops.
  • The sultan also used the platform to watch Mecca-bound processions headed on the annual pilgrimage.
  • The gate also has a grisly history: the platform was used for executions. And severed heads were displayed on the tops of the walls as recently as 1811 after the Citadel massacre of the Mamluks by the Ottomans.

16. Al-Salih Tala’i Mosque

islamic cairo hidden gems

12th century, Fatimid | free | on the map

Built in 1160, Al-Salih Tala’i is Cairo’s last Fatimid mosque.

It’s built on a raised platform with a base for street level shops that once contributed to the mosque’s revenue. However, the base sunk over the centuries because of rising street levels. You can still see the vacant shops half-buried along the mosque’s walls.

islamic cairo hidden gems

The courtyard is breezy and features rows of keel-shaped arches. Don’t miss the calligraphy in stucco around the arches, the wooden tie-beams and gorgeous stained-glass windows.

17. Khayamiya market

Khayamiya market

17th century, Mamluk | free | on the map

Known as the street of the tentmakers (Sharia al-Khayamiya), this covered market sells a colorful type of decorative applique textile known as khayamiya.

It’s also one of my favorite places to shop in medieval Cairo – it’s far less crowded and the vendors aren’t as pushy as their Khan el Khalili counterparts. They’ll generally give you a fair price from the start and there’s not much need to haggle.

There are rugs, quilted pillow cases and wall hangings sold by the artisans themselves in their tight and narrow shops.

Sharia al-Khayamiya

And you’ll often see the artisans at work hand-stitching cushion covers or bedspreads. Their needles tackle themes from Islamic calligraphy to Ancient Egypt, local folklore, fish, birds and verses from the Quran.

Sharia al-Khayamiya

  • The Qasaba that houses the khayamiya market is worth a look in itself. Built during Mamluk rule in 1650, it’s the only historic covered market in the city. Look above the shop facades and you’ll see the upper floor apartments built for the artisans.
  • There’s evidence that khayamiya dates back to Ancient Egypt. But this traditional craft is now endangered because of cheap imitations and factory-printed fabric.

Where to eat

El Fishawi Cafe

El Fishawi Cafe

Haret Khan Al Khalili | on the map 

Tucked inside a narrow alleyway, El Fishawi is one of Cairo’s oldest cafes.

Dating back to 1771, this Cairo icon is packed with mashrabia, chandeliers, enormous mirrors and lots of historic charm. Sip on some mint tea, listen to live oud music, puff on a shisha and take in the lively atmosphere.

But be prepared: this isn’t the place for quiet conversation. You’ll be interrupted by a constant stream of street vendors trying to sell you prayer beads, necklaces and other trinkets. And you’ll be charged tourist prices for tea and coffee – without an official menu in sight.

But El Fishawi is worth a stop to experience that old Cairo coffeehouse atmosphere. It boasts a rich history as the watering hole for two centuries of Egyptian intellectuals, artists and writers.

Khan El Khalili Restaurant & Naguib Mahfouz Cafe

Inside the Khan el Khalili restaurant in Cairo there is an ornate ceiling, marbled floor and oriental decor.

5 Sekat Al Badstan | on the map

Tucked inside a side street just off Moez, Khan El Khalili Restaurant/Naguib Mahfouz Cafe is a lavish, upscale and quiet choice for a meal of delectable Egyptian classics.

Head to this iconic restaurant (open since 1989) for a luxurious sit-down meal – well away from the rowdy crowds of the surrounding souq.

The restaurant is lined with oriental arches, a beautiful ornate ceiling and wooden furniture adorned with mother-of-pearl – all inspired by Mamluk and Islamic architecture.

There are lots of Egyptian classics on the menu and service is outstanding.

Where to stay

The Le Riad Hotel de Charme on Moez Street is a tall building with wooden balconies and near the Silahdar Mosque.

Moez Street doesn’t have many hotels – but the elegant Le Riad Hotel de Charme is a notable exception with its arched mashrabiya balconies overlooking the old souq.

Le Riad is a charming boutique hotel right on Moez Street with cozy rooms decorated with Egyptian decor. It also has a great restaurant with a terrace overlooking the surrounding minarets.

Le Riad is a great home base for sightseeing around Islamic Cairo, including Khan el Khalili and the nearby Sultan Hassan Mosque, Ibn Tulun, Azhar Park and the Citadel.

Shopping in Khan el Khalili

Dee walks down a street in Khan el Khalili in Cairo filled with vendors selling colorful lanterns.

Khan el Khalili is the medieval open-air bazaar right alongside Moez Street. It’s an incredible place load up on Egyptian souvenirs and handicrafts in a bustling atmosphere.

But it’s also infamous for pushy vendors and aggressive salesmen. Read Khan el Khalili: An Ultimate Local’s Guide for all my insider tips to having a hassle-free visit.

Exploring Islamic Cairo

islamic cairo

There’s a lot more to Islamic Cairo than the famous Moez Street. To explore the district and all its hidden gems, read 14 Best Things To See In Islamic Cairo (A Local’s Guide).

More resources:

4 Incredible Things To Do On The Nile River in Cairo

12 Best Things To Do In Coptic Cairo

25 Incredible Things To Do In Cairo (A Local’s Guide!)