Two famous Cairo neighborhoods: A look back through history
Abbasseya is a famous neighborhood that connects west Cairo to east Cairo. It is where Ain Shams University is located. But this busy district underwent many transformations. It was once a barren desert, then an affluent neighborhood and then a place for military installations.
The battle of Ridaniya between the Mamluks and the Ottomans, which resulted in the latter occupying Egypt, took place in Abbasseya in 1517. The neighborhood was called Ridaniya after the battle. The name was then changed to Al-Haswa before Abbas Hilmi I changed it again and named it after him.
Abbas Hilmi I
Abbas Hilmi I ruled Egypt from 1848 to 1854. Preferring to live in a quiet place, he built himself a palace in the area. He also built a hospital and a school, and encouraged the wealthy to move to the area.
Ferdinand de Lesseps called the palace an entire city in the desert. It had 2,000 windows.
In 1863, Ismail Pasha built many schools and facilities in the area, including the famous El-Khedewy school and the Military Academy. In 1865, he connected the heart of Cairo with Abbasseya by adding a railway line. He also built a horse racing track and a shooting arena, turning the place into an area for public celebrations. Later, he built a psychiatric hospital, which is still standing today, as well as many other hospitals, including the Greek hospital, the Italian hospital, the Jewish hospital and the Coptic hospital.
On February 18, 1879, approximately 600 Egyptian officers and military school students marched in a demonstration from the army barracks of Abbasseya to the Finance Ministry in downtown Cairo. The demonstrators held Prime Minister Nubar Pasha captive inside the ministry and beat him in protest against foreign intervention in internal affairs.
The Cabinet was dissolved the next day, after the officers proved that there was an Egyptian national front against foreign intervention.
In 1950, Prime Minister Al-Nahas Pasha named the longest street in Abbasseya after Fakhry Abdel Nour, a symbol of the 1919 revolution. Before that, the street was named after British Prime Minister Grenville.
After the July 1952 revolution, the old British army barracks were turned into what is now the Defense Ministry. President Nasser chose to live in the neighborhood, which is now inhabited by different social classes.
Bab El Louk
Bab El Louk is a neighborhood in central Cairo that was built 700 years ago.
The course of the Nile River changed several times throughout history. When the water receded westward, islands emerged on which the neighborhoods of Garden City, Kasr El Aini, Tahrir and Bab El Louk were built.
Bab El Louk
Al-Saleh Ayoub, the ruler of Egypt during the Ayyubid era, built an arena in Bab El Louk for equestrian sports, which is now where Bab El Louk Square is located. But when the Mamluks ruled Egypt, Sultan Baybars neglected the arena and built another one in what is now the area that includes Tahrir Square and the British and US embassies.
Bab El Louk
On what is now Al-Bustan Street stood the palace of Prince Fouad before he became king. Today, a parking garage stands in its place.
Bab El Louk
Streets tell the history of a nation. Among the famous streets of Bab El Louk is El-Falaki Street, which means "the astrologer" in Arabic. It was named after Mahmoud El-Falaki Pasha, a professor of astrology who was born in 1815.
Another famous street is Sherif Street, which is named after Sherif Pasha, the so-called Father of the Constitution.
Soliman Pasha Square
Soliman Pasha Street was named after a French officer whom Mohamed Ali had summoned to build a modern Egyptian army, while Rushdi Street was named after Hussein Rushdi Pasha, who was the prime minister of Egypt in 1914.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm