The small sabil–kuttab (a charitable foundation particular to Cairo that combines a public water dispensary with a Quranic school) built in 1760 opposite the venerated Sayida Zeinab Mosque is almost unique in Cairo: it is one of only two dedicated by a reigning Ottoman sultan, and—astonishingly—it is decorated inside with blue-and-white tiles from Amsterdam depicting happy scenes from the Dutch countryside. Why did the sultan, Mustafa III, cloistered in his Istanbul palace, decide to build a sabil in Cairo? Why did he choose this site for it? How did it come to be adorned with Dutch tiles? What were the connections between Cairo, Istanbul, and Amsterdam in the middle of the eighteenth century? The authors answer these questions and many more in this entertaining and beautifully illustrated history of an extraordinary building, describing also the recent conservation efforts to preserve it for posterity.
The Sultan’s Fountain
An Imperial Story of Cairo, Istanbul, and Amsterdam
The small sabil–kuttab (a charitable foundation particular to Cairo that combines a public water dispensary with a Quranic school) built in 1760 opp
Agnieszka Dobrowolska is a conservation architect who has worked on many archaeological and conservation sites in Egypt, and directed a number of architectural conservation projects in Historic Cairo for the American Research Center in Egypt. She is the author of <em>Muhammad Ali Pasha and His Sabil</em> (AUC Press 2004), <em>The Building Crafts of Cairo: A Living Tradition</em> (AUC Press, 2005), <em>Heliopolis: Rebirth of the City of the Sun</em> (AUC Press, 2006), and co-author of <em>The Sultan’s Fountain: An Imperial Story of Cairo, Istanbul, and Amsterdam</em> (AUC Press, 2011)
Jaroslaw Dobrowolski has worked in Egypt since the 1980s and is currently the technical director for the Egyptian Antiquities Project of the American Research Center in Egypt. He has worked on several architectural conservation projects in Egypt, including the sabil-kuttab of Nafisa al-Bayda in the neighborhood of Bab Zuwayla in Islamic Cairo.