When we have studied the old Fatimy city, and inspected Saladin's citadel and looked
down upon the magnificent prospect it commands, we have not yet seen all Cairo. Southwest of the fortress is the oldest part of the capital, as marked out by Saladin's wall.
This is the Harat Ibn-Tiilun, which represents the old suburb El-Katai', built by Ahmad
Ibn-Tulun to the north-east of the still older Fustat. The suburb was burnt and demolished
to a great extent, and there is not much left of its original buildings ; but the mosque oi its
founder still survives to show us what Arabian art was in the ninth century, and what skill
and labour an Eastern prince would expend upon his house of worship. The mosque of Ibn-
Tulun was built in 879, at a cost of ,£72,000, after designs by a Christian architect it is
noteworthy that some of the chief triumphs of Arabian architecture are said to have been the
creations of Greek artists—and it presents the peculiarity of having been entirely constructed
of new materials. Instead of columns stolen from older monuments, the spacious court (nin<
nine yards every way) of Ibn-Tulun's mosque is surrounded by arcades resting on ma
square brick pillars, with small Byzantine columns in gypsum, without bases, let into the four
corners. Architects see in these the prototype of the Gothic clustered pillars. The loft)
pointed arches, verging on the horse-shoe form, are bordered with exquisitely worked Kufic
inscriptions and conventional foliage, and an upper row of (as it were) triforium windows, ol"
the most beautiful and varied designs, are framed in a similar but even more delicate
embroidery of arabesques, The absence of stalactyte ornamentation and the Other character!
of later mosques is significant of the period to which the mosque belongs, and oi which il is
the most notable example. It stands to the Memluk mosques much as Early English doe to
Perpendicular Gothic; and as evidence for the tracing of the development of Aral' architecture,
which has its periods and transitions like the Gothic, it is a priceless monument Among
titles to fame is the fact that it presents the earliest examples existing of the pointed arch,
which was not introduced in England till three centuries later. Unfortunately its imp
quadrangle is ruined by the bricking-up of most of the arches for the purpose of provi*
cells to shelter the beggars and ne'er-do-wells of Cairo, who infest and disfigure the noble
building. Ugly whitewashed walls now take the place of the cloisters on all sides but the
east, and it is only there, in the Iiwan or sanctuary, that the original beauty of the design can
be to some degree appreciated. Here, too, stands a carved pulpit of inlaid ivory and walnut-
wood; which, however, is of a much later date. In the centre of the court is the covered
fountain for ablutions, which was originally intended to have served as the founder's tomb.
The minaret, which is in a very ruinous state now, has the peculiarity of an external winding
staircase, which was said to have been suggested to Ibn-Tulun by winding a strip oi paper
spirally round his finger. From the top it is possible to look down upon the dilapidated
remains of what was once the aristocratic quarter of the capital. Among the wilderness oi
flat roofs, we can trace the course of the Salibeh street, which connects the Citadel with the
south-west angle of Cairo, and in this quarter some of the most beautiful examples oi the fast-
disappearing lattice windows may still be seen.