27 Tuesday , February, 2024
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Ataba Square, the largest market in Cairo


In the heart of the Egyptian capital Cairo, you can't miss Ataba Square, one of the city's largest and most famous squares. The all-time bustling square is not only the central transportation hub in Cairo but also a cultural destination housing the National Theatre and the Child Theatre, two of Cairo's most famous cultural landmarks. 


El-Ataba is an intersection of Abdel Aziz Street, Qalaa Street, Azhar Street, El-Geish Street, Azbakeya Street and Oprah Street. Now Ataba Square is the largest marketplace for all ages and tastes at the lowest prices.


Ataba Square, from Aristocratic to public neighborhood    

El-Ataba Square, which means "threshold" in Cairo, dates from hundreds of years. In the past, it was known as El-Ataba El-Zarqa "Blue Ataba", then it became El-Ataba El-Khadra "Green Ataba". The Square's name was associated with Taher pasha palace built by El-Hag Mohammad El-Shraibi Shah in Azbakeya area, as it had a blue threshold. But when Abbas Pasha bought the place, he replaced it with a green one.


Taher Pasha Palace or Saraya el-Ataba is one of the luxurious buildings in Ataba area, and it was the residence of several state men at that time. The last of them was Abbas Pasha Helmy, the third ruler of Mohammed Ali's dynasty who rebuilt and expanded the palace for his mother, the widow of Prince Tusun's. Then when khedive Ismail decided to redesign the whole Azbakeya area and Attaba area, a big part of the Saraya was removed and replaced by the various court's building.


Origins of Ataba Square

Ataba Square is related to El- Azbakeya area which was named after Prince Atabak Azbak. He was the first to live near Azbakeya pond after removing all the garbage there. Then in 880, he started to reconstruct the surrounding land encouraging the rest of the area residents to build their houses around the pond. Prince Azbak also built a mosque in the area and was known as "Azbak Mosque". The Mosque was located near Al-Azhar Street entrance until it was removed when the Ataba area was redesigned.


Ataba, Markets for all 

Ataba markets emerged in 1869 when khedive Ismail decided to build a stone market similar to the modern markets he saw in Paris and Turkey at that time. Since then Ataba was and still is the most famous open market in Cairo, as in the early twenties Ataba was like a shopping carnival where both Egyptians and tourists went  shopping.           


Ataba, and the tram

In August 1896, the first tram line was opened to the public in Ataba square in a luxurious celebration and many Egyptians lined up to see this miraculous invention.