Cairo to be Garden City once again-The building of a park reverses centuries of neglect and uncovers historic treasures - 2005-03-12Posted February 25th, 2010 by heritage
In the desert, an oasis is akin to paradise and in the sands of Egypt, many of history's greatest gardens flowered on the banks of the Nile.But in Cairo, a city of 16 million people that has ballooned on the ruins of many Islamic dynasties from the 8th century Abbasid Caliphs to 19th century Ottomans, there has been, for several generations, barely a footprint of unbuilt open space for each of the city's inhabitants.
A leading architect unearths the history and scrutinizes the design of Cairo's new civic gem, Al-Azhar Park - 2005-03-24Posted February 25th, 2010 by heritage
Until recently, the only vantage point from which to view Cairo's historic skyline of minarets and domes up close was the Citadel. Thanks to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), Cairo now boasts a 30-hectare park uniquely situated among some of the city's most historically significant Islamic monuments that provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Islamic skyline. What many visitors to Al-Azhar Park don't realize, however, is that the park was constructed on top of mounds of debris that date back to Fatimid Cairo.
If ever there was an Islamic renaissance, it took place in Egypt, ruled over by the Ismaili Fatimid dynastyis Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, is one of the world?s wealthiest and most revered individuals. Son of Prince Aly Khan and Princess Tajuddawlah Aly Khan (the name given to renowned beauty Joan Lady Camrose, upon her marriage to Prince Aly Khan), the Aga Khan was born in Geneva on December 13th, 1936. He spent his early childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, followed by Le Rosey School in Switzerland.
The Al-Azhar Park is important for tourists to Egypt because this hilly site is surrounded by the most significant historic districts of Islamic Cairo. This is one of the primary destinations for many visitors to the city, and this new park located in its heart provides many advantages, including a wonderful view of the surrounding area.
In old Cairo, I am winding my way through a labyrinth of narrow streets. All is a confusion of human and vehicular traffic, the buzz of conversation and the din of animal noises -- goats and chickens are common here, as many of their owners have left villages to seek urban fortunes.
With about 30 square centimetres of green space per resident, Egypt's capital, Cairo is one of the densest cities on the planet. The modern city centre has all the bustle of a capital city, with rich and poor vying for space.
Neglected Old Cairo has a more traditional pace. But the people who live among its crumbling buildings have yet to enjoy the benefits of modernization. They are poor and overcrowded.
A new park is opening here. Built by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, it is the largest project in its Historic Cities Programme.
On Friday March 25, Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a private agency which seeks to revitalize Muslim communities, will inaugurate the largest public park built in Cairo in over a century. The Aga Khan, who heads the trust, is the the leader of 15 million Ismailis, a Muslim sect. He built the 70-hectare Al Azhar park on an ancient garbage dump in the heart of Islamic Cairo.Cairo's 16 million inhabitants live in a city with very few green spaces. Urban expansion has led to the disappearance of many of the city's public parks.
Le parc public d'Al-Azhar a fait revenir les oiseaux au coeur historique de la gigantesque et étouffante capitale. Offert à la ville par l'Agha Khan, il fait aussi le pari d'insuffler une nouvelle vie économique aux quartiers voisins.LAURENCE D'HONDT DE RETOUR DU CAIRE