By Islam El Shazly
Driving through one of the many older neighbourhoods in Egypt one can feel very small, if only you can turn off your eyes whenever you see modern ugly concrete monstrosities. A lot of our architectural heritage almost went the way of the Dodo, a lot of the early twentieth century villas and mansions that used to dot the banks of the Nile from Aswan to the Delta almost vanished because of greed and lack of visionary planning, same as marvels that were built tens and hundreds of years earlier. Alhamdulillah, some people paid attention, and did all they could to save what they could for future generations.
Strolling down Orouba Road, the main artery out of the Heliopolis district in Cairo is always a breath of fresh air – you just have to hold something to your nose during rush hour. Walk slow and enjoy mansions that dreams are made of, like the mansion that houses the Iranian envoy to Egypt, or even the older schools that were built at the end of the nineteenth century.
Our heritage doesn’t stop at architecture, however, it includes the people of Egypt. The same people whose hands built these marvels, down to the simplest of people who don’t exist in our lives any more; like the water carriers that used to walk around barefoot for miles with their water-skins full of fresh cold water, straight from the Nile. Collections like the Lantern Slides from the Brooklyn Museum, make sure that we never forget.
Tags: Amr Mosque, Arabian Horse, Aswan, Brooklyn Museum, Cairo, Conservation, Egypt, Elephantine, Featured, Felucca, Heritage, Merchant, Nile, Photography, Water Carrier