Khan el-Khaliliis a major souk in the Old City of Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.
The souk dates back to 1382, when Emir Djaharks el-Khalili built a large caravanserai in Cairo under the Burji Mamluk Sultan Barquq; the eponymous khan is still extant. By the time of Barquq, the first Circassian Mamluk Sultan (1382- 1399 A.D.) much reconstruction needed to be done within the walls of the city in order to repair the damage incurred as a result of the Black Death. When Barquq started his madrassa in Bayn el-Qasrayn, markets were rebuilt, and Khan el-Khalili was established. It was also known Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman Empire.
In addition to shops, there are several coffee houses, restaurants, and street food vendors distributed throughout the market. The coffeeshops are generally small and quite traditional, serving Arabic coffee and usually offering shisha. The al-Hussein Mosque is also in Khan el-Khalili; Al-Azhar University and its mosque are not far away.
Naguib Mahfouz’s novel Midaq Alley (1947) is set in an alley in Khan el-Khalili.
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