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7 Wednesday , December, 2022
Official Portal of Cairo Governorate
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Secrets and stories of Cairo’s streets

 

Introduction:

The streets of any city are an open book narrating the history of this city and possibly the history of the whole nation, and the street signs are the pages of this book. Mohammad Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt, was the first ruler who issued a decree to give names to Egypt's streets and a number to each building as well as putting street name signs.

 

 

El-Qalaa Street

It is one of El-Darb Al-Ahmar's most famous streets, and it is the last one established in this area. Moreover, its establishment marked the end of the Islamic era represented in the Fatimid Cairo and the beginning of modernism in Egypt.     

 

Location:

El-Qalaa Street extends from El-Ataba El-Khadra Square to Sultan Hasan Mosque and Madrassa. 

 

Name:

El-Qalaa Street was previously known as Mohammad Ali Street after Mohammad Ali Pasha. The first thought of establishing El-Qalaa Street was during Mohammad Ali Pasha’s era in 1846. Then Khedive Ismail assigned the French architect Haussmann, the designer of modern Paris, to design Khedivial Cairo a part of Khedive Ismail’s plan to make the city a piece of Europe in which he succeeded, and Cairo became a masterpiece known as “Paris of the East”.

 

The Egyptian Government then moved all the cemeteries and bought all the shops and buildings from the owners to establish the new street. Then in 1874, the Ministry of Public Works began the construction under the supervision of Ali Pasha Mubarak. The buildings facing the street were built with arches crowning the sidewalks to protect the merchants and pedestrians from the heat and rains inspired by European architecture which still exists in the boulevards of Paris.

 

Landmarks:

El-Qalaa Street still has some famous landmarks such as the Egyptian National Library, built by Khedive Ismail at the suggestion of Ali Pasha Mubarak, Minister of Education then. They aimed to collect manuscripts and valuable books that ottoman sultans, princes, and scholars restricted to mosques, mausoleums, and schools. The library was the nucleus of a public library inspired by the national libraries in Europe. Further, there are other landmarks like the Islamic Museum, Mosque of Qaison, Hammam Bashtak, Souq El-Selah, and Al-Mansara district, which is famous for the furniture manufacturing industry.

        

 

Al-Faggala or Al-Tabbala Street

Salah Jahin, the famous Egyptian poet and playwright, says “streets are stories”. Some streets have secrets and beauty discovered by those who look passionately for them and seek to reveal the features of that beauty that make them more captivating. So, let’s find out the story of El-Faggala Street: 

 

Location:  

Al-Faggala Street extends from Ramses Street to the beginning of Bab El-Shaaria Street.

 

Name:

Unlike many streets in Cairo which were usually named after kings, Ottoman sultans, prominent figures, or a craft that was famous in the area, Al-Faggala Street was given the name of an artistic occupation the drummer “Al-Tabbala”. At that time, there was a conflict between the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mostanser Bi-llah in Egypt and the Abbasid Caliph El-Qaem Bi Amr Allah in Baghdad. The struggle ended with the defeat of the Abbasid Caliph. So, the singer of the Fatimid Caliph started singing and showing her jot at this victory, and because the Caliph admired her songs, he gifted her this fertile area overlooking the Nile. Later, when the commander of the armies of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mostanser Bi-llah came to Egypt and built orchards around this area, its name was changed to “Basatin El-Geyoshi”. After a while, it became neglected until Khedive Ismail developed the area of the railway and Al-Faggala was a part of it. Al-Faggala’s name is associated with the radish farmers who inhabited the area at this time as well as foreigners and Syrians because it was near Misr Station.

 

Significance

El-Faggala street which was once a cultural center where there were bookstores, publishing houses, and libraries like” Misr Library” is now a center for selling sanitary wares.

 

Landmarks

El-Room Catholic School, the Jesuit Church, and the Chaldean Catholic Church are the most significant landmarks on Al-Faggala Street. 

 

 

Al-Saliba Street

Cairo has long been home to numerous historical monuments, and it is full of famous landmarks and tourist attractions that always are a top destination in the world. One of which is Saliba Street that bears witness to the masterpieces of the Mamluk era in Egypt.

 

Location

Al-Saliba Street which means “Cross Street” runs from Al-Qalaa Street to the beginning of Abdel Magid Al-Labban Street, near Al-Sayeda Zeinab area and intersects with Al-Rakiba Street and Al-Seyoufia Street making the shape of a cross.

 

Name

It is called Al-Saliba because it looks like a cross.

 

Significance

Al-Saliba Street is one of Egypt’s historic streets that houses numerous Islamic monuments, including mosques, schools, kuttabs, sabils, khanaqahs, hammams, and palaces. The Street was the residence of princes and dignitaries during the Ayyubid Era because of its strategic location on the outskirts of the ancient Islamic capitals of Egypt. Moreover, the Ayyubids built their military facilities and weapons factories in this area, including an arms workshop at El-Houd Al-Marsod area in 1813 and a military academy in 1855.

 

Furthermore, Al-Saliba Street was a theatre for many political and social events such as ceremonial parades, wedding celebrations, and Mamluks’ plots against each other. It was also the place where El-Nasser Qalawun held his daughter’s wedding celebrations for three consecutive nights and free food tables were offered to the public. 

 

During Mohammad Ali Pasha’s era, many statesmen built houses and palaces in this area due to its significance like Amir Abel El-Latif Pasha House in front of Qanibay El-Mohammady School. The Alawite dynasty (Mohammed Ali’s dynasty) also built three pharmacies in the street as pharmacies were a paradigm shift in the field of manufacturing medicines at that time.

 

Landmarks

Al-Saliba street houses an abundance of Islamic monuments like Ibn Tulun Mosque, the only remaining monument of the city of Qata’i; the third Islamic capital in Egypt, Al-Ashraf Qaitbay Kuttab and Sabil, Qanibay El-Mohammady Madrasa, El-Amir Sheikho’s khanaqah Madrasa, Sabil Um Abbas and the School of ibn Tagriberdi, Gayer-Anderson Museum, and Amir Sarghatmish Madrasa.

 

 

Port said Street “El-Khalig El-Masry”

Port Said Street or previously “El-Khalig El-Masry” in Cairo is a living witness to Egyptian history from the Pharaonic era until now. It is also a silent one that does not reveal much, especially to strangers and young people. While strolling down the street, it may never cross your mind to ask about its meaning and significance, and perhaps some have seen it on envelopes or addresses list “10 El-Khalig El-Masry Street”. Now it is called Port Said and is one of Cairo’s most famous streets where significant events and popular celebrations took place.       

 

Location

Port Said Street is considered the vital artery that separates Fatimid Cairo and Khedival Cairo. It is located near Al-Azhar area and extends from Madinet El-Khosos to Fam El-Khalig Street in El-Manial area.

 

Name

Port Said Street was known as El-Khalig “the bay” as it had one of Egypt’s artificial waterways (canals) that Egyptian farmers used to irrigate the lands that did not get enough water from the Nile River. Over the ages, the Street was given many names like Khalig Ptolemy during Ptolemaic era in Egypt, Khalig Misr, Khalig El-Fustat, and Khalig Amir El-Mo’minin after Omar Ibn El-Khattab, the second Muslim Caliph. Then in 1952 after the July revolution, the Street’s name was changed to Port Said after the Egyptian city Port Said.

 

Significance

Just like Venice in Italy, Port Said Street in Cairo was built on the waters of an old canal built up by Egyptian farmers for irrigation purposes. So, back then you would see boats and bridges instead of vehicles and sidewalks, and people used to take long walks on its banks. Then in 1899, the canal was backfilled when Khedive Ismail built Cairo water Company.

 

 

Khurunfush Street

Khurunfush Street is one of Fatimid Cairo’s remarkable streets. It is an extension of Cairo’s historic street El-Mo’ez Ledin Allah. It is where Fatimid caliphs, ministries, and princes had lived and held their official ceremonies.

 

Name

The word Khurunfush is a deviation of Khurunshuf, which refers to the fossilized material produced from old baths fuels and used with lime mortar for construction works. The street became known as Al-Khurunfush when the Fatimid Caliph El-Aziz Billah used this material to build back stables next to the western palace.  It became fixed in the minds after giving the name to the house of Prince Saif El-Din Abu Said Khalil, one of the Mamluk princes and the Deputy Sultan Mohammed Ibn Qalawun on Damascus. This house was described by Al-Makrizi as Cairo’s most beautiful and magnificent house.   

 

Landmarks

Dar Kiswat El-Kaaba and Saint Joseph School “Frères School” are the most famous landmarks in Al-Khurunfush Street as well as silver and brass workshops. It is also the street where president Gamal Abdel El-Naser lived with his father in 1933 as his father worked at Khurunfush district’s post office. Moreover, Haret Khamis Ads “Khamis Ads alley” is one of Khurunfush most important alleys and is named after “Maundy Thursday”, a Christian holy day in which Egyptian Christians cook lentil soap.  While in the past the Fatimids used to participate in the celebrations and issue commemorative gold coins that were distributed to State officials.

 

 

Al-Seyoufia Street

Al-Seyoufia Street branched off El-Mo’ez Street is one of Cairo’s most ancient and significant streets that derived its importance and authenticity from Cairo’s great history. It was the place of forging swords in Cairo.

 

Location

Al-Seyoufia Street runs from the intersection of Mohammed Ali Street to Al-Saliba Street.

 

Name

It was called Al-Seyoufia because it was full of sword forging workshops during the Mamluk era.   

 

Origin

Al-Seyoufia Street dates back to the Tulunid period as it was part of Al-Qata’i city. After urban development, the Street developed to a residential area during the Ayyubid period, then an aristocratic neighborhood where Mamluk royalty and elites had lived.

 

Significance

Al-Seyoufia Street is famous for its rich diversity in Islamic monuments. It is home to different types of Islamic architecture; a Sufi mosque, palace, sabil, kuttab, tekyeh, and Khanqah.  

 

Landmarks

Tekyehat El-Darawish is the most famous landmark on Al-Seyoufia Street. It was established by Egyptian whirling dervishes on the remains of Sonqer El-Saady Palace and Madrasa. Tekyehat El-Darawish comprises four sections:  a student hostel surrounded by a garden with a fountain, Sama' Khana "Sufi theatre", service and reception area, and main entrance.  The Street also houses Amir Taz Palace which is currently an artistic creativity center.

 

 

Darb El-Barabra “El-Barabra Alley”

If you are a bride-to-be or you are having a baby, Darb El-Barabra is the ideal place for you.

 

Location

Darb El-Barabra is located in Musky district.

 

Name

There are different stories about the reasons behind the name of Darb El-Barabra. Some say that it was named after the Berber tribes of Morocco, who came with the Fatimids to conquer Egypt, which is the most likely opinion.  Others say that it is associated with the Nubian workers who came to Cairo in the early 19th century, and Darb El-Barabra was where they gathered. The Fatimids were the first to establish el-darb and introduce the dessert industry to Egypt as they used to distribute desserts and gifts to Egyptians on special occasions and celebrations. Further, they made candles used in lighting before inventing electricity.      

 

In modern times, Jews and Greeks lived at Darb El-Barabra and introduced Chandelier and antique industry into Egypt, which made the street more attractive to people.

 

Darb el-Barabra is related to Egypt’s history, especially during the British occupation and monarchy as the word “Barbara” is associated with “El-Haggana”, a group of military guards who rode camels and were responsible for dispersing demonstrations. Moreover, it still retains its name even though the name of the street was changed to Kamal El-Husseiny, Egypt’s first martyr during the tripartite aggression on Egypt in 1956.      

 

 

Khan El-Khalili

Khan El-Khalili is the most famous and favorite destinations in Cairo for visitors from all over the world.

 

Location

Khan El-Khalili is located in El-Hussein district, and it is parallel to El-Mo’ez Ledin Allah Al-Fatimi Street.

 

Name

Khan El-Khalili bazaar was named after its founder Emir Djaharks Al-Khalili from El-Khalil city in Palestine, and he was one of Sultan Barquq’s princes. This bustling street is full of shops, mosques, and, monuments that attract tourists and locals alike. In the past, it was part of Fatimid caliphates’ graves, and then in the Mamluk era, the graves were transferred to be replaced by this bazaar.  

 

Significance

Khan El-Khalili bazaar is globally famous for being a market. It offers tourists some of Egypt’s oldest industries and crafts created by the Egyptian artist embodying Khan El-Khalili’s authenticity. In khan El-Khalili, you will find all kinds of goods such as souvenirs, handicrafts, jewelry, antiques, and decorative carpets. Moreover, Khan El-Khalili was an inspiration for many Egyptian writers like Nagib Mahfouz as he wrote his famous novel “Khan el-Khalili”.

 

 

Amir El-Geyosh Street

Amir El-Geyosh is one of Fatimid Cairo’s oldest Streets. The street is famous for manufacturing food trucks and carts. It is full of workshops that forge iron to make colorful shapes of food carts. If you ever pass through it, you will never miss the endless sounds of hammering as a symphony played by a group of musicians.

 

Location

Amir El-Geyosh connects Bab El-Shaaria Street to El-Mo’ez Street, near Bab El-Futuh.

 

Name

The residents of the area call it “Maragosh-Margosh” and this name is perhaps an abbreviation for Amir El-Geyosh “prince of the armies” Badr El-Din El-Gammali, commander of the armies of the Fatimid caliph El-Mostanser Bellah and the second founder of Fatimid Cairo. He redesigned the city of Cairo and carried out several expansions making Cairo the world’s largest city. The street still retains its name and sometimes it is also called “El-Nahasin Street” for the spread of copper industry craft on it.

 

Significance

Amir El-Geyosh Street is characterized by its old architectural features which are a blend of Fatimid and Mamluk styles. Moreover, the armies used to pass through this street, and it was the first one where the “city croft” bus operated in the early fifties.

 

 

Magra El-Oyoun Street

Once you are near Misr El-Qadima area, you will be impressed by the magnificent and ingeniously built structure “Magra El-Oyoun Fence”. This historic five-century old fence structure holds the fragrance of a prosperous past and the agonies of a deteriorated present.

 

Location

Magra El-Oyoun runs from Fum El-Khalig area in Masr El-Qadima to El- Sayeda Aisha area.

 

Name

The street took its name from Magra El-Oyoun Fence that was built in the area five centuries ago.  

 

Origins

Magra El-Oyoun Street was an empty area separating Misr El-Qadima area, where the Fustat and Amr ibn Al-Aas Mosque is, and Fatimid Cairo. When Salah El-Din Citadel was built and became the seat of government, Salah El-Din dug a well “Yousef well” to supply the Citadel with water from the Nile River, but the well did not provide enough water. So, the architects of Sultan Mohammed Ibn Qalawun government built Magra El-Oyoun Fence to carry the water from the Nile River to the castle.  Magra El-Oyoun is considered one of the hugest water projects.

 

 

Ibn Sender Street

Location

Ibn Sender Street begins from the garden in Hadaak El-Qobba district to El-Tahra Palace in Tahra Square. El-Tahra Palace built by the Italian architect Antonio Lasciac for Princess Amina Aziz, daughter of Khedive Ismail in the early 20th century.   

 

Name

Ibn Sender Street was named after Al-Sahabi Masroh ibn Sender, one of Prophet Mohammad’s companions. Ibn Sender was a slave to Rawh Ibn Zinba El-Guthami and one day Ibn Zinba got angry at Ibn Sender and punished him by piercing his nose and ears. So, Ibn Sender rushed to Prophet Mohammad complaining from Ibn Zinba. Prophet Mohammad then sent a letter to Ibn Zinba asking him to free ibn Sender. After his freedom, Ibn Sender asked Caliph Omar ibn El-Khattab to send him to Egypt. When he came to Egypt, Amr ibn Al-Aas gave him a plot of land, which is surrounding Ibn Sender Street now.