I.S. El-Sayed Ebada / I. N. Elkhawas
(Universität Menoufia, Egypt)

Cairo (al-Qahira) – the largest city in Africa – was founded by the Fatimids in the year 969 A.D. Unlike Damascus and Baghdad, Cairo was undamaged by the Mangol attacks, and thus it kept large numbers of its old buildings intact to this day. Cairo is currently the capital of Egypt and it is inhabited by at least fifteen million people. The old medieval city – now known as Islamic Cairo – is an area of narrow streets, winding alleys, covered markets, many mosques, and it is still keeping the medieval Islamic feel.
Al-Azhar Square, one of the most distinguished historical spaces in Cairo – has been the subject of many proposed urban design studies in the past two decades. Many ideas are being furiously debated among Urban Planners, Urban Designers, Architects, and Conservationist as well as the general public at large since the early 1980s. A number of projects have been implemented in the past several years. These projects aimed to solve both traffic and pedestrian congestion problems as well as to conserve and re-flourish the medieval feel of this square. However, mistakes have been done. These mistakes have affected the visual perception of the old monuments surrounding the Square.
This paper reports on a visual study of Al-Azhar square in Cairo. This study is being developed using virtual reality techniques. These techniques are utilized to analyze the effect of urban design decisions on the visual intelligibility of the monuments surrounding the Square. This visual analysis considers both the pedestrians and motorists angles of vision. The aim is to provide some visual guidelines that would in the revival of old visual appearance and the medieval feel of Square.
keywords: Al-Azhar Square, architectural heritage, visual analysis, virtual reality, Cairo-Egypt