Last week in my post on the Coptic Heritage of Cairo I posted a photo of a stained glass window done in the traditional Egyptian style, from the so-called “Hanging Church” in Cairo, officially known as St. Virgin Mary’s. It got its name because it’s built atop an old Roman gatehouse.
I was surprised at this and other stained glass windows I found all over Cairo, both in Christian and Muslim settings. I had never read about these windows in my (admittedly small) collection of Islamic art books, and I didn’t remember them from my previous visit in 1991. I’ve been able to find very little about them online, so if anyone knows more, please comment!
Mamluk era mosque lamp from 15th century Cairo.
The tradition of hand painted mosque lamps continues
to this day, even though they now contain electric lights
Last week I discussed some of Tutankhamun’s treasures in Cairo’s National Museum. That museum is an amazing collection of items from ancient Egypt. The city’s other great museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, focuses on the Muslim period and has one of the greatest collections of its kind in the world.
I’ve blogged previously here on Black Gate about spending some time living in Tangier, Morocco. The city is a good jumping off point to see northern Morocco, a region many visitors skip as they head down to Fez, the Atlas Mountains, and the southern casbahs. If they do that, they miss one of North Africa’s best preserved medinas, the 15th century marketplace of Tetouan, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tetouan is located in the saddle of two clusters of hills. Home to about half a million people, it doesn’t attract many foreign tourists and offers a look at an traditional medina and its market that have not felt the hand of international shoppers.
This week’s destruction of the temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, has brought the Islamic State’s brutality into the international spotlight once again, just like they wanted it to. I’m grateful that at least I got to see the place before it was destroyed. I’ve written about it in my post Memories of Palmyra before ISIS.
Palmyra isn’t just a unique archaeological site, it’s strategically important too. Located at a crossroads in eastern Syria, from there it’s possible for ISIS to supply all their operations in that sector, including their push for the Syrian capital of Damascus.