The market dates back to the 14th-century when Emir Dajaharks Al-Khalili built a large market complex on the site of the Za’afran Tomb, which had been the burial place of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. This construction was part of the process of rebuilding started under Sultan Barquq (ruled from 1382-1399) to help the city recover from the ravages of the Black Death throughout the 13th and 14th-centuries.
Today, the market has been modernized significantly, but there are still portions that display the original Mamluk style architecture, which featured great archways and vaulted ceilings. The market has several restaurants and cafés spread throughout where you can take a break from shopping. Al Fishawy is the oldest café in Cairo, decorated with large mirrors and old furniture. It used to be frequented by Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian Nobel laureate author.
There is also an upscale restaurant in the market that bears his name. The market is next to Hussein Square, the garden in front of Hussein Mosque. This square also offers many cafes and cheaper restaurants.