Walking in Cairo

postato in: All posts, Egitto, Medio oriente, Mondo | 236

Il Cairo, megalopoli d’Egitto, periferia dell’antica capitale Tebe e centro del moderno Medio-Oriente.

In questi giorni le immagini del Cairo scorrono nei nostri telegiornali: anniversario della rivoluzione, dittatura militare, rivolte soppresse. Ma in una città che sembra tanto travagliata la vita scorre, come tutti i giorni, prescindendo da ogni protesta o rivolta.

C’è una zona che racconta il Cairo del popolo, quello viscerale, che vive in strada, a volte di ciò che la strada offre. Sulle guide lo chiamano Old Cairo, ma anche Cairo Islamico, è il nugolo di stradine, carretti, persone, auto, venditori, donne, animali che partendo dalla Cittadella si apre a ventaglio fino alla mosche di al-Azhar, al mercato di Khan el-Khalili e alla moschea di Ibn Tulun.

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Entrati alla Cittadella si varcano le mura che Saladino fece erigere contro i crociati, la vista infatti è superba, in lontananza le piramidi svettano sulle centinaia di basse case e viene in mente dove poteva arrivare lo sguardo quando non c’era la cappa di smog che sovrasta una città di 15 milioni di abitanti.

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Il sole che illumina la collina la rende il posto adatto per i tanti ragazzi egiziani che passano le mattinate a ciondolare in giro. Il punto più alto della Cittadella è la moschea di Muhammad Ali, simbolo della dominazione ottomana e riproduzione della moschea blu di Istanbul.

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Scendendo dalla collina lo stradone che entra nel cuore della città vi sembrerà qualcosa di mostruoso, 4 corsie per ogni senso di marcia che diventano 6 a causa della guida spericolata degli autisti egiziani, fino a restringersi a 2 quando ci si avvicina al complesso di al-Azhar.

La moschea con l’annessa Università rappresenta il centro religioso e di studio più prestigioso dell’Islam sunnita. L’università, fondata prima dell’anno mille è la più antica ancora in attività ed è guidata dal Mufti, l’autorità religiosa e giuridica più autorevole.

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Al-Azhar letteralmente significa “la luminosa” e varcare le porte della moschea rende perfettamente l’idea del perchè si è scelto questo nome. L’enorme pavimento esterno in marmo bianco riflette la luce del sole e illumina le pareti del cortile e le colonne di una luce suggestiva. Fortunatamente questi luoghi non sono invasi da turisti e conservano ancora il silenzio e la pace che si addice ai luoghi di preghiera e meditazione. L’interno meno luminoso contrasta con la luce esterna, ma è il posto perfetto per sedersi sui tappeti che coprono l’intero pavimento e guardare scorrere l’Egitto davanti ai propri occhi.

Nella moschea si prega, si mangia, si studia, si discute, si dorme, si rfilette, non sono solo luoghi di preghiera, sono le case del popolo.

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Di fronte il suq di Khan el-Khalili vi assorbirà e vi assalirà, non fate caso a tutti quelli che proveranno a vendermi qualsiasi tipo di souvenir, ma non perdete l’occasione per trovare il pezzo forte da portare con voi al ritorno. Penne dorate, calamite luccicanti, piramidi di cristallo, evitate il Made in China e il trash che qui davvero non manca, e infilatevi nei vicoletti più stretti, dove i venditori sono meno arrembanti e dove si possono trovare lampade fatte a mano, gioielli in argento berbero, vecchie cartoline, stoffe, poster di vecchi film e spezie di ogni tipo.

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Non fermatevi a guardare il mercato, alle sue spalle si apre una strada magnifica, Bab al-Futuh, strappata al degrado e che conserva antiche madrase (scuole), moschee ottomane e mausolei. Nel corso della storia, questa antica strada era abitata dal popolo e niente è più bello che immaginarsela viva come qualche centinaio di anni fa.

Ultima tappa, da raggiungere assolutamente a piedi, è l’enorme moschea di Ibn Tulun. Mercati, antiche porte, viottoli, dividono al-Azhar dalla grande moschea, ma non sarà difficile orientarsi, avendo come riferimento la Cittadella che vi osserva dall’alto.

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La moschea è forse la più antica del paese, costruita nel 800. Le alte mura esterne le conferiscono più un aspetto di fortezza che di luogo di preghiera, in realtà fino al secolo scorso al muro di cinta poggiavano le botteghe di un bazar, con scuderie, venditori e artigiani.

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Costruita interamente con mattoni d’argilla, la moschea ha un enorme cortile esterno, che insieme al minareto a spirale la rendono unica nel suo genere, con i corridoi, che, delimitati dalle colonne, possono ospitare l’intera comunità in preghiera il venerdì mattina. L’imponenza di Ibn Tulun riempie gli occhi e il silenzio che si percepisce al suo interno contrasta con la vita esterna.

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Arrivati qui non si può non salire sull’alto minareto, da qui l’occhio spazia su tutta la città, dalla Cittadella al Nilo, passando per le moschee gemelle alle vostre spalle. Date un po’ di mancia in più al custode e godetevi questo panorama all’ora del tramonto.

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