Bab Zawayla is the southern gate of the Fatimid walled city: if you're doing a walking tour of Fatimid Cairo it'll often be either the starting point or the end of your walk. Its another of those can't miss it buildings, thanks to the pair of Mameluk minarets (belonging to the mosque just inside the gates) placed on top of the eleventh century main structure.
It doesn't just serve as a landmark: there's something to do here. The gate houses a small museum, interesting in it's own right (Those vast gates are supported by ball-bearings, on display here) and entrance to it permits access to the minarets, which obviously give you a great panoramic view of the city. A very lucid diagram is on display inside to enable you to decode the gradual accretion , repair and modification of the structure, and you can read up on some of the more sensational incidents in the gate's history. heads on poles stuff.
The only surviving southern city gate from the Fatimid period, Bab Zuweila was built in 1092. In the 15th century, the stunning red and white striped Mosque of al-Mu'ayyad was built adjacent to Bab Zuweila, while the mosque's twin minarets were constructed over the gate. Until the last century, public executions were held just outside Bab Zuweila. Thanks to European Orientalist painters of the 18th and 19th centuries, the twin minarets and the gate are well recognised as they have frequently been featured in their paintings (see main photo). In 2001-2005, both the mosque and gate underwent a much-needed restoration project that returned them to their former glory. Visitors are permitted to climb the minarets for fantastic views of Cairo. See the attached photos for photos of the gate and the twin minarets.
At the end of the street you arrive at a magnificent gate. The Bab Zuwayla was built in 1092, and is where the Mamluk Sultans saw off the annual departure of the pilgrim caravan to Mecca.
The minarets on the top of the gate belong to the 15th century Mosque al Mu'ayyad next door, and offer a spectacular view of the city.
The entrance fee for tourists is 10LE (about 1GBP; for locals it's 1LE, about 10p!). You might want to have a torch handy - the steps in the minaret are very narrow and dark.
This beautiful gate is the only gate that remains on the southern side of old Cairo.
The two minarets are from the Mosque of Al Mu'ayyad, just next to the gate.
Around this area you will find the tent-makers souq, schools and more traditional shops.
It is worth exploring the area around here. You will eventually end up at Khan El Khalilli if you continue through the gate, pass the mosque onwards.
Nwly restored Bab Zwaileh, which affords the most incredible views, you can climb up to the dizzing heights of both minarets with an unparralel view of Islamic Cairo and the Citadel, great way to orient yourself.
The cost is 10 pounds.