top of page

The building is officially listed as a sabil (a charity distributing free drinking water). It has two large rectangular windows like those from which water was distributed in numerous sabils in Cairo, including the one in the corner of the nearby mosque/madrasa of Sultan Qaitbey. However, the recent survey and study by ARCHiNOS Architecture have shown that it lacks a water-cistern or any water installations, so the original purpose of the structure remains a mystery. An arcade of two pointed arches adjoins the building on the south. The stonemasonry is of the very high quality typical of Qaitbey’s period, but the decoration is limited to the muqarnas capitals of the engaged corner columns and to the flat arches with elaborate joggled voussoirs over the windows.

The square room is covered with a stone sail dome, invisible from the outside. This is unlike most sabils in Cairo that were typically covered with decorated wooden ceilings, over which kuttabs, elementary schools, were placed. In Sultan Qaitbey’s complex at the cemetery, however, there is a sabil complete with a cistern and water installations that is almost identical with this one and that is also covered with a sail dome.

The building was restored by the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe in the late 19th century, but has decayed since. Its conservation by ARCHiNOS is planned for the near future.

bottom of page