The busy streets of Old Cairo through old photographs, 1900-1935


These street photos of the City of a Thousand Towers show the rapid growth and transformation of Old Cairo at the turn of the 20th century.

Cairo was founded by the Fatimid dynasty in AD 969, but the city's history goes beyond that. There was an important ancient religious center in On (modern Heliopolis).

The Romans built a fortress at the port of Onn, which they called Babylon, while Amr ibn al-As, who conquered Egypt for Islam in 642 AD, founded the city of Fustat in the south. The vast wealth of Fustat was derived from the rich soil of Egypt and the taxes imposed on the traffic of the Nile.

Tenth-century travelers wrote of public gardens, street lighting, and buildings up to 14 floors high. Yet when the Fatimids marched from modern Tunisia in the late 900s, they rejected Fustat and thought of building a new city instead.

Construction on the new capital began when Mars (Al Cahir, 'Victorious') was in the ascendant; Thus emerged Al Medina Al Cairo, 'The City Victorious', whose pronunciation was corrupted by Europeans in Cairo.

Many of the finest buildings of the Fatimid era remain today: the great Al-Azhar Mosque and University is still the main center of Egyptian Islamic studies, and the Three Great Gates of Bab an Nasr, Bab al-Futuh, and Bab Zuweila are two parts of the Islamic religion. are spread over. Main Streets of Cairo.

The Fatimid did not stay in power for long, but their city survived them and became the capital of great wealth, under later dynasties, ruled by cruel and fickle sultans. This was the city which was called the mother of the world.

Cairo declined after the middle of the 14th century, however, when the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, struck the city, decimating its population, which also occurred in much of Europe. .

The Ottomans conquered Cairo in 1517 and ruled there until 1798 when the region was captured during an expedition led by Napoleon I of France.

Ottoman rule was restored in 1801, but by the mid-19th century, Egypt's foreign debt and the weakness of the Ottoman Empire invited more European influence in Cairo.

Viceroy Ismail Pasha, who ruled from 1863 to 1879, built several European-style structures in the city and used the opening of Cairo's Suez Canal in 1869 to showcase the city to European powers.

However, much of the development that took place during this period was funded by foreign loans, which increased the national debt and left Cairo vulnerable to control by Great Britain.

During the period after World War I (1914–1918), the British effectively ruled Egypt from Cairo from the late 19th century, when foreign presence in Cairo began to decline.

Cairo's population grew rapidly during the war years, reaching 2 million by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Since that time, the city has continued to accelerate in terms of both population and development.

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