Cairo's parks through the ages - IS CAIRO PARK A NEW MODEL FOR URBAN RENEWAL? - 2005-03-24
While Al Azhar Park may be a novel project in the Cairo of today, a hundred years ago it would have been one cultivated green space among many. In the 19th century, Cairo was being modeled after European cities, and parks were part of the plan conceived carried out by Viceroy Muhammad Ali and his successors, especially Khedive Ismail, for creating a sophisticated, modern urban space. Today, however, most of the old parks are only a fraction of their original size and dim reflections of their illustrious beginnings, due to neglect and shifting concerns of the state.
The Ezbekiya Garden was once such space. It was a time when money was being made and spent at a rapid rate and the European presence in Egypt was growing. Khedive Ismail had the park built in 1872 as a French pleasure garden. It featured a small lake crossed by bridges, as well as exotic trees and plants, tea rooms, restaurants and shops. The Ezbekiya Garden grew in popularity and, some say, vulgarity for over 50 years. In his Dictionnaire des Co