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Al-Suhaymi House


Al-Suhaymi House
  • Al-Suhaymi House considered to be a vivid example of aristocratic family housing in the Islamic Middle Ages.
  • It is the only integrated house that represents the architecture of Cairo in the Ottoman era.


The Location 


Al-Suhaymi House

  • Al-Suhaymi House is located in Al-Darb Al-Asfar Lane, It is one of the oldest lanes in Cairo, its off Al-Muizz Street.

  • The house of Al-Suhaimi was known by that name in relation to the last inhabitant of it, a sheikh of Al-Azhar.

Who was Muhammed Amin Al-Suhaimi 

  • Sheikh Muhammad Amin al-Suhaimi was the last owner of the house.
  •  He was born in Mecca, and came to Egypt to settle there.
  • His goal in life was to search for the righteous saints of God in all parts of the world.
  • He was generous, philanthropist for the poor
  • His home was a destination for knowledge and a source of good.
  • He was a university professor at Al-Azhar University, for Turkish students studying at Al-Azhar.

History of the place

  • When Al-Suhaymi died in 1928, his widow saw the need to replace the house, especially after it had become uninhabitable.  

  • When King Fuad I learned of this, he issued a royal decree stipulating the allocation of 6 thousand pounds, to buy it and add it to the Committee for the Preservation of Arab and Islamic Antiquities.

The Restoration 

  • Despite the importance of the house as one of the most important Islamic monuments in Cairo, it remained marginalized and neglected for many years.

Al-Suhaymi House

  • Due to the poor condition of the house, at the beginning of the Ninety's century, 14,000 cracks were detected in the house’s basics.

  • It was restored with a grant from the Arab Fund for Economic Development, at a cost of ten million pounds.

  • During the restoration process, workers found fossils confirming that the house was built on rubble and the remains of buildings dating back to the Fatimid era.

  • The restoration and development work of Al-Suhaymi House continued from 1996 to 2000.

  • With the completion of the restoration, a decision was issued to transform the house into a center for artistic creativity, affiliated to the Cultural Development Fund at the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.

  • The area of ​​the house is about two thousand square meters, it contains 115 rooms where all the meanings of luxury, and comfort was in it.

  • The house has archaeological writings that include the date of construction, the originator, and also the poem of al-Burdah by Imam al-Busiri, that characterize the facilities of the Ottoman era.

Al-Suhaymi House

water wheel


  • In the backyard of the house, there is a grain mill.

The Design

  • The architecture of the house is designed according to the Ottoman system, which allocates, the ground floor for men called Salamlek, and it is intended to receive male guests, and it does not contain any other rooms or halls.

  • The second floor is called the Haramlek, and it is the part designated for women.
  •  It is forbidden for strangers men to enter it, and only the owner of the house can enter it.
  • It includes a room called "the permission hall", where the women  guests were waiting there, until the women of the house are ready to receive them.
  • The Haramlek also includes a maternity hall.

The Bathrooms


  • Egyptian houses in that era were distinguished by the presence of bathrooms inside it, at a time when Europe only knew public bathrooms.
  • In the house, there are two bathrooms with a vaulted ceiling.

  • One of them is used in the summer, with good ventilation to prevent the summer heat.
  • The other in the winter, where there is a stove to heat the water, for massages and heating.

  • There were no beds to sleep in, as is the case today.  
  • Its residents slept on mattresses made of the finest types of marigolds, which were decorated with beautiful artistic motifs.

Al-Suhaymi House

The house has wells for water in the garden

The garden 

  • Surprisingly, there are two trees, the age of which is the same age as the house, that is, more than 350 years.  
  • One of them is an olive tree and the other is a sidr (Nabq) tree, whose green leaves are still useful to this day.

The Basement

  • Political life was not stable during that historical period.
  • Therefore, it was necessary for every house to have secret doors that appear to be part of the wall.
  • In a certain way they open, leading to a basement and then completely outside the house, to enable its residents to flee in case of danger.

  • In the "House of Al-Suhaymi" these secret doors still exist until today.

A fairy tale akin to a myth

  • In one of the rooms of the house there are two bones from the backbone of a whale, which are visited daily by dozens of women Egyptians, Arabs, and even foreigners.
  • As it is believed that passing over the two bones of the whale 7 times, makes the spinster marry, and the sterile woman can conceive.

References 

  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayt_Al-Suhaymi

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