Another unique characteristic,of the mosque is its use of an appearance enclosure wall. In Baghdad, these walls were intended to break the sacred space of the mosque from the city around it. In Egypt, however, this enclosure was lately filled with the houses of wealthy Egyptians, who built doors into the walls of the mosque to provide their houses with private and direct access inside.
All of these houses have now been destroyed and the doorways locked except for the two that now form the Gayer-Anderson Museum.
Robert Gayer-Anderson was a known British colonial officer, who lived in these houses in the 1930’s with the courtesy of the Egyptian government. He was an Orientalist and an avid compiler, filling the house with his personal collection of art, furniture and carpets, while supervising its restoration.
When he went out of Egypt in 1942, he left the full contents of the house to the Egyptian government. The result today is a completely repaired and furnished home that is considered one of the best protected examples of 17th century Cairo architecture in the city. More recently, the house was applied for part of the filming of the famous James Bond film, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.
While visited by comparatively few tourists, these two sites are truly among the most impressive in Cairo. The amalgamation,of the beautifully restored mosque and the museum next to one another provide an unparalleled view back into Cairo’s past. situated in the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood of Cairo, they are very near to Saladin’s Citadel and Sultan Hassan Mosque can easily be combined with a tour of these more famous destination in a single day.