Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Egypt · 24 February 2023 · 2 min
In 969 CE the Fatimid dynasty entered Egypt and founded the city of al-Qahira (“the Victorious”). Today we know it as Cairo. Over the next 1,000 years, successive Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman eras followed, leaving glories of Islamic architecture and an ever-growing metropolis in their wake.
Next to the Fatimid city emerged the neighbourhood of al-Darb al-Ahmar, a part of what is known today as “Historic Cairo”. The district, a maze of narrow and winding alleyways dotted with medieval mosques, mausolea, palaces and residences, connects visitors with a past and a way of life that remains in very few places in the world today. An array of traditional crafts are made there from brass lanterns, to tents, glassware and furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl, using designs that are unique to Egyptian culture, the city of Cairo and the district itself.
Over the past two decades, as part of a broader urban regeneration project spurred by the creation of Al-Azhar Park, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has restored several historic monuments in this dynamic but fragile quarter. It has also helped locals to build better futures through education and health initiatives, as well as vocational training and job creation related to the restoration efforts.
Now, with funding from the European Union (EU), a touristic route has been established to connect this wealth of historic buildings and ancient handicraft markets. The increase in tourism is expected to impact thousands of families and artisans in the area.
Dr Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities
The path is expected to welcome more than 3,000 visitors in 2023. Clean-energy electric cars are available to transport them along the 2-kilometre stretch, allowing them to take guided views of these mesmerizing monuments of Islamic Egypt.
“This path was equipped to provide access to and preserve Islamic cultural heritage in Cairo by strengthening the role of tourism as a major catalyst for local social and economic development,” said Dr Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), during the route’s inauguration last Sunday.
Ongoing EU funding
With further EU funding, the touristic route project is currently undertaking:
Learn more about the route here.