Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, June 2013
26/06/2013 / EGYPT
Is historic Cairo doomed to disappear?
A building being built next to a mosque listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo posted on Save Cairo’s Facebook page.
Vandalism, looting, and illegal construction… Egyptian architects are increasingly concerned about the toll that these problems have taken on Cairo’s historic centre since the revolution in 2011. According to them, if public authorities do not react now, the city’s many architectural and cultural treasures are doomed to disappear.
Located on the eastern side of the Nile, historic Cairo is one of the most ancient Islamic cities in the world. Founded in the 10th century by the Fatimids, the city contains about 600 historic sites built between the 7th and 20th centuries, including mosques, Koranic schools, Turkish baths and fountains.
In fact, the entire area was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979. Now, the UN body is threatening to add it to its list of endangered World Heritage sites if no protective measures are taken.
“The government needs to step up and stop illegal construction”
Mohamed Elshahed is a doctoral candidate in architecture. His thesis is about city planning in Cairo from the 19th century to today. His blog, Cairobserver, focuses on urban planning. He is part of the group “Save Cairo”, formed by architects who are trying to protect the city’s historic buildings.
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