Cairo is full of suburbs and
districts that hold the rich history of the city. So, let’s find out today the story of one of
Cairo’s oldest suburbs located on the Nile, which is Helwan district. Due to its geographical location and
historical roots, Helwan has always been of a great concern to geographers,
historians, and politicians.
Helwan suburb dates back to the
pharaonic era, and it was known as “Ain Aan” as the word “Ain” stands for the water
springs in the area, and the word “Aan” means fish. Moreover, the first water
dam was found in Helwan.
In the Coptic era, Christians as
well as Jews inhabited the area and built monasteries, churches, and
synagogues. It was called “Hay- wan” and then the name became Helwan.
Foreigners, especially Greeks and Italians, also lived in Helwan spreading
Roman orthodox and Catholic churches in the area.
Islamic era, the plague spread across Fustat city in 686 AD. So, Abdel Aziz ibn
Marwan, Governor of Egypt during The Umayyad Caliphate, moved to Helwan city
and built palaces and mosques in it. Abdel Aziz chose the name “Helwan” for
this city because it had the same position and features of Helwan city of Iraq.
Urbanization and prosperity continued in the area until the ottoman era then it
was neglected and left to deterioration.
of neglect, Helwan restored its importance in Egypt’s modern history when
Khedive Abbas Helmy ruled Egypt. As Helwan sulfur springs were then
rediscovered and were used in treating soldiers form skin diseases spread in
the army at this time. Afterwards, Khedive Abbas ordered to build a sulfur
hammam for therapeutic purposes. Later, Europeans flowed to Helwan, but the difficulty
of transportation and its remoteness prevented any investment in the area. In the
Khedive Said period between 1854 and 1863, several rest stops were built around
Helwan sulfur springs as well as a department to manage the visits and
supervise the cleaning process to preserve its therapeutic elements. Early in the Khedive Ismail period, they began
to build more sulfur baths in the area and established a railway that ran from
El-Manshia next to Qalaa street to Helwan district. Therefore, Helwan gained
more fame all over the world, and more people came to live in it, especially
rulers, Pashas, and rich people. Moreover,
Helwan became the capital of Egypt during the Khedive Tawfiq period, and he
built the “Grand Hotel” in 1888, which is now Helwan Secondary School for Girls
and Helwan Observatory as well as palaces, museums, and mosques.
district houses many significant landmarks like Rokn Farouq Museum, the
Japanese Garden, the Wax Museum, and Helwan Observatory, which is located on
top of a limestone plateau. Helwan Observatory was built in 1903 and gained
great fame due to its distinctive geographical location. It attracted
astronomers from around the world who came to conduct joint scientific studies.
Furthermore, the British astronomer Reynolds dedicated a 30- inch reflector to
the Observatory. The
Observatory also has one of the world’s largest telescope.
District is one of the upscale districts in the west of Cairo. It is located on
an island in the middle of the Nile River.
is a foreign word, and it means houses made of reeds. El-Zamalek district was
just the hang-out for young men in summer and holidays during the eras of The
Umayyads and then the Ayyubids. Then Khedive
Ismail built the Gezira palace, which witnessed the inauguration of the Suez Canal in
November 1869. After that, the Gezira palace turned into a hotel called Omar El-Khaiam,
and now it is Marriot Hotel.
Zamalek did not become an island
until the final quarter of the 19th century after digging the western branch of
the Nile. Zamalek was a land connected to the El-Agouza area and the Imbaba
area. Then, in 1877, the El-Bahr El-Amma Bridge was built on the Nile’s western
branch, and in 1914 El-Galaa bridge replaced El-Bahr El-Amma as it was no
Egyptians used to call the El-Galaa
bridge “Badea Masabni” bridge to mock the British forces, and after the
evacuation of the British occupation from Egypt, the bridge restored its old
flourished after building El-Andalus Park and El-Nadi Al-Ahly Club. Moreover,
King Farouq established a rest house at the southern end of the Island, which
later became the headquarter of the Revolutionary Command Council, and it is
now Cairo Tower. The District also houses El-Gezira Club, El-Sawy Cultural
Wheel, and the Academy of Arabic Language.
district, and square in Cairo has a story full of historical events and changes
that Egypt went through over the ages. So, let’s find out the story of one of
Cairo’s most famous districts, which is Abbasia District. Abbasia district
connects between the east and west of Cairo. Moreover, it houses Egypt’s most
prominent universities. In the past, Abbasia District was a barren desert
called “Ridania” after Ridan El-Sekaly, member of the Fatimid Caliph El-Aziz
Billah’s court. It was the site where Ridania battle took place in 1517 between
the Mamluk forces under Al-Ashraf Tuman bay II and the Ottoman forces under
Sultan Selim I, which ended by the defeat of the Mamluk forces and the
execution of Tuman bay.
area suffered from neglect until Abbas Helmy Pasha I came to Egypt in 1848 and decided to build army barracks on the edge
of the desert and laid the foundation of Abbasia District. Then Abbas Pasha encouraged
people to reconstruct the area by land grant and built a school and hospital. He also built a large palace which the French engineer
De Lesseps talked about saying that it has 2000 windows and it is like a whole city
in the desert. Abbasia District was named after Abbas Helmy Pasha.
District went through significant development during Khedive Ismail’s era as he
built several military schools including Al-Bayada School “Infantry School” in
1864, Al-Sawari “Calvary School”, and Artillery School in 1865. He also built Army Staff School, and
Mohandes khana School “Irrigation and Architecture” at Zaafaran Palace. Moreover,
the Military School was moved to Zaafaran Palace to make it easier for students
to carry out military training. Then, khedive Ismail built a horse racing track
and shooting range, and Abbasia became a place for celebrations.
District has a rich history in Egypt’s Army ‘s records. During the Urabi
revolution, 600 Egyptian officers held a meeting at the army barracks in Al-
Abbasia on February 18th 1879 then they went on a military
demonstration against the foreign intervention in Egypt with the participation
of military school’s students, some soldiers, and three members of the Advisory
Council. They finally succeeded in
toppling the cabinet of Nubar Pasha and proved the ability of Egyptian
several vital facilities spread across Abbasia
District like the Greek Hospital, the Italian Hospital, Abbasia Mental Hospital,
Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Electricity, St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox
Cathedral, and El-Husseinia School for Boys, and Al-Ahram Secondary School.
home to Egypt’s prominent figures
Egypt’s leaders, politicians, and public figures lived in Abbasia District
including the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Naser, Field Marshal Abdel Hakim
Amer, Lieutenant General Abdel Monem Riyad, former Minister
of Defense Mohammed Sadiq, the Egyptian actors Salah Zulfikar and Abdel Rahman
Abu Zahraa, and others.
History is full of evidence of the Egyptians’ authenticity and deep roots
extended to different dynasties and kingdoms for many successive years and what
the ancestors had built remains evidence of Egypt’s rich civilization, art, and
uniqueness. One of which is Megharblin District, Qahirat El-Moez’s oldest
District is located between El-Sayeda Zeinab District and El-Hussein District
in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar area, the heart of the Fatimid Cairo.
name is associated with the grain trade, where grains are sifted through sieves
to remove all impurities.
District is characterized by its landmarks dates back to the Fatimid era and
the Islamic era like the Sabil and Kuttab of Abdel Rahman Katkhuda, which was founded
by Prince Abdel Rahman Katkhuda, governor of Egypt, in 1142 AH. There is also
Gani Bey Mosque dates from 1426 AH. Moreover, many of Megharblin adjacent
streets specialize in certain crafts and industries such as Khaimia street
which is famous for tents manufacturing, and Sorougia street where horse
saddles are made.
many authors and artists were born in El-Megharblin including Mahmoud
El-Meligy, Yousef El-Sebai, Shafiq Galal, and Mahmoud Shokoko.
El-Kobba District is one of Cairo’s north area districts. It is the area
surrounds Ibn Sender Street.
El-Kobba District’s name is associated with the dome built by Amir Yashbak ibn
Mahdy El-Dawadar, the holder of the Sultan’s inkstand and royal messenger. Hadayak
El-Kobba is known for its elegant architectural features. Moreover, it was a
popular hang-out for the Mamluk sultans.
Ali dynasty reigned Egypt, they constructed Hadayak El-Kobba area as Ibrahim
Pasha built a palace. Then Khedive Ismail rebuilt the Palace on an area of 70
acres in 1986 and surrounded it with vast gardens that had different and unique
kinds of trees and flowers. Further, Khedive Abbas Helmy II ordered Hadayak
El-Kobba Company to develop and reconstruct 100 acres of the area, and the
company established several streets like Misr& Sudan street.
El-Kobba district now consists of Hadayak El-Kobba area, Kobri El-Kobba area,
Hamamat El-Kobba area, and Saraya El-Kobba area. It also has two of Cairo’s
historic palaces which are El-Tahra Palace and El-Kobba Palace.
district is one of historical Cairo’s oldest districts that offers a
breathtaking panorama of Islamic monuments. It is also home to many ancient
handicrafts and industries which makes it a famous destination for both
Egyptians and foreigners.
is affiliated to Wast Al-Qahira district. It is bounded on the north by Gammalia district, on the west by Mosky district, Abdeen
District, and EL-Sayeda Zeinab district, on the south by El-Khalifa, and on
the east by El-Nasr road.
El-Ahmar’s name is associated with Salah El-Din Citadel’s massacre in which
Mohammed Ali Pasha invited all of Egypt Mamluks and slaughtered them in 1811. The
blood flooded the Citadel and adjacent street, and despite cleaning the blood,
the color of the ground turned into red. So, the area became known as El-Darb
El-Ahmer “the Red Alley”.
El-Ahmar was the political center of the Fatimids. Moreover, it was home to
political and mass organizations until the beginnings of the 23rd
revolution in the modern age.
El-Ahmar District has many mosques, historic houses and palaces, shrines, and
sabils such as the Mosque of al-Maridani, Mosque of Qortoba El-Dhabi as well as
the Islamic Museum and Egyptian National Library and Archives. Further, it is
full of shopping alleys like Darb Saada and Darb El-Megharblin. It was also the
birthplace of iconic figures, including the Egyptian leader Mahmoud Sami, Quran
reciter Mohammad Refaat, El-Sheikh Ibrahim El-Sheashai, and the writer Yousef
Al-Gadidah District "Heliopolis"
Gateway to Cairo for visitors from all
over the world, Masr Al-Gadidah is one of Cairo's upscale neighborhoods where
Cairo Airport is located. Dear reader, let's know the story of this quiet
In the early 20th century, in
1905, the Belgium Baron Edward Impan came up with the idea of establishing an
urban community in the desert away from Cairo like Garden cities built in
Europe under the slogan "A healthy and clean society."
The idea of establishing Masr Al-Gadidah coincided
with the rise in land prices and rents, overpopulation, pollution
Establishing Heliopolis in its current
location was not a coincidence as Baron Empain, the founder of this suburb, was
a big fan of the Greek philosophers. So, he worked on reviving and
immortalizing the City of Innu where Aristotle, Socrates and, Plato lived at
its temples. He also wanted a location with some climate advantages. So, he
chose this site and called it Heliopolis, meaning the eye of the sun.
Heliopolis is also the pharaonic name of the ancient city of Innu.
In 1905, the
Egyptian government sold 5952 acres of desert land to Baron Empain, the owner
of the Belgian Bank of Brussels, who established Wahet Heliopolis Company to
build Masr Al-Gadidah suburb.
Baron Empain made Heliopolis
a blend of oriental architecture and European architecture to suit its resident.
He divided the suburb into different areas. Each had its architectural features
according to the quality of life in it. Starting from palaces and villas on
Oruba and Almaza streets to the industrial zones, then passing by public
gardens, amusement parks, horse racetracks, and elite schools.
After Baron Empain established Masr
Al-Gadidah suburb, it lacked all facilities and means of transportation. So, he
thought of building a tramway system to link the new suburb to Cairo. In 1910, the
area had its first tram line, and it remained one of the area's distinctive
landmarks until the government removed it.
Masr Al-Gadidah area houses many famous
landmarks like Baron Empain Palace, the Presidential Palace, the Oruba Palace, and
El-Ghaba Public Park, the Merryland Park, the Military Academy, Cairo
International Airport, the Jewish Synagogue in El-Korba, the Basilica Church,
Masr Al-Gadidah Court, and Masr Al-Gadidah Library.
Masr Al-Gadidah has many famous square and
streets like Safir Square, Triumph Square, El-Hegaz Square, Salah El-Din
Square, and El-Ismailia Square.
Al-Gadidah prominent residents
Many public and well-known figures lived
in Heliopolis such as the late President Hosni Mubarak, the former Minister of Interior
Ahmed Roshdy, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Abu El-Gheit, and
also many famous artists like Mary Monib, Leila Elwi and Leila Murad.