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Churches of Old Cairo and Mosques of Al-Qāhira: a Case of Christian-Muslim Interchange

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The article surveys the cultural relations in Egypt between Christians and Muslims before the Ottomans by means of a selection of churches in Old Cairo and of mosques in the growing city of al-Qāhira. It examines these buildings and aspects of them in the light of the changing status of the Christian population from majority to minority, categorising them into four key phases, from the rise of Islam to the coming of the Ottomans. It discusses shared features of architectural decoration and style, and notes that while some of these are used neutrally and interchangeably between monuments of the two faiths, others which are sited at key locations, such as on a façade or in a main sanctuary, arguably function as political or religious statements. Such features suggest that cultural identity was expressed by the two faiths within a common frame of visual reference.

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