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AKDN | Historic Cities

In Cairo, in Damascus and Aleppo, in Delhi and Lahore, in Kabul and Bamako, in Mopti, Djenne and Timbuktu, and along the ancient Silk Route, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, through its Historic Cities Programme, has worked to restore a series of major cultural landmarks. … These cultural initiatives, in each case, have also been accompanied by a social and economic rationale, so that the entire project works to improve the well-being of the people who live in these areas.

His Highness the Aga Khan, Zanzibar, July 2009


Restored frescos adorn the central chamber of Shahi Hammam (Royal Bath) located within the Walled City of Lahore in Pakistan. 

AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer

In Cairo, for example, the creation of the 30-hectare (74-acre) Al-Azhar Park, in a city that has very little green space, attracts nearly two million visitors a year. The US$ 30 million Park – a gift from His Highness the Aga Khan to the city of Cairo – not only generates enough funds for its own maintenance, but has proven to be a powerful catalyst for urban renewal in the neighbouring district of Darb al-Ahmar, once one of the poorest districts in the city.

In Delhi, the Humayun’s Tomb – Sunder Nursery – Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project combines a cultural heritage project with socio-economic initiatives. The project is improving the quality of life for people in the area while creating an important new green space for the people of Delhi. The creation of the Site Museum focused on Mughal heritage will be a model for heritage sites across India.

In Afghanistan, a range of conservation efforts, living condition improvements, community development programmes and planning initiatives have been implemented in several neighbourhoods of the war-damaged old city of Kabul, notably the restoration of Babur's Gardens, the Mausoleum of Timur Shah and urban regeneration projects in the Asheqan wa Arefan neighbourhood. To date, over 120 projects have been completed in Kabul, Herat and Balkh.

From Afghanistan to Zanzibar, from India to Mali, these initiatives leverage the unique transformative power of culture to improve the socio-economic conditions prevailing in many poorer populations – communities that often have a rich cultural heritage but that live in poverty.

Through AKHCP’s work, over 4,550 men and women have been trained in skills such as carpentry, masonry and conservation. More than 500,000 people have benefited through water and sanitation programmes, public open space improvements, housing improvements and other social initiatives.

Where We Work

Historic Cities