Fortress (Babylon of Egypt (Old Cairo)
Of the Military works on the confines of the Byzantine Empire, those
of the fortress of Babylon of Egypt, now called Old Cairo calls for
some special attention. This fortress of the late fourth -- early
fifth centuries was re-constructed and stands near the well known
Right Bank of the Nile River. This area is near the head of the river
delta and commands two essential points valuable to the age;
1—Passage across the Nile River utilized by the Caravans from North
Africa to the East and return;
2.--The river itself as passage for war as well as commerce.
A bridge of boats was thrown across the river which provided access to
fortress from the Left Side of the Nile. Two towers were constructed
facing the river and were unusual and deserve some detail coverage.
Each of the round towers were some 90 feet in diameter and sixty-six
feet apart. The towers are a part of the curtain wall which surrounds
the city, and each has a large stone foundation. The construction
consists of some small stone which has been squared and then laced
into place with courses of brick. The strength of the tower walls is
derived from an unusual and very strong design. Each tower consists
of two concentric walls which were placed some fifteen feet apart and
then strenthened with eight radial ribs which connect to both walls.
This design divides the area between the walls into eight equal parts.
The radial ribs provide to the tower the strength of a wall some
twenty-eight feet thick, but does not require nearly the material of
such a normal wall. An additional advantage is that there are now
eight smaller compartments inside the tower as well as the central
room. Should an attack be pressed against the tower and break through
one compartment, it would be much easier to repair.
The fortress further contains five smaller corner towers to strengthen
the curtain wall. On the side of the fortress away from the river
there are three additional small towers. On the narrow side of the
fortress facing upriver are two larger towers which are centered in
the curtain wall and which forms the main gateway to the city. The
fortress is 900 feet in length and about 700 feet at its widest
point. Above the two towered gateway is the Church of Almuallekan.
Within the city are the following religious buildings: Church of St.
George, Convent of St. George, Church of St. Barbara, Church of Abu
Sarga (St. Sergius), Synagogue (ANC. Church).
--Vide "Babylon of Egypt", Sydney Toy, British Archaeological Journal,
--Sidney Toy, "Castles, Their Construction and History," Dover Pub.,
New York, 1984, Pages 43 and 44 (illus.)
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