Paris Along the Nile: Architecture in Cairo from Belle Époque
Myntti, Cynthia. Paris Along the Nile, Architecture in Cairo from Belle Époque. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1999, 112pp.


Paris Along the Nile, Architecture in Cairo from Belle Époque

The book is about Cairo's architectural heritage of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century – the Belle Époque. Concerned about the dilapidation of this architecture and encouraged by rising public desire for its preservation, the author contributes by making a photographic recording of its impressive features.

During his 1867 visit to Paris’ Universal Exposition, the Khedive Ismail of Egypt admired ‘new’ Paris with its gardens and broad boulevards, and decided to modernise Cairo on the Parisian model. The project was implemented by top French expertise according to a master plan prepared by Ali Mubarak, the French-educated Egyptian Minister of Works.

The book comprises an introduction, twelve sections and a conclusion. The first section entitled “Cairo: The Cosmopolitan Years”, is a concise history of the Khedive's decision to build an entirely new Western city along the Nile to rival Paris. It describes the main features of the new city and the development, towards the end of the nineteenth century, of the central business district with its multi-storey Parisian-styled commercial and residential buildings and fashionable amenities.

The second section, “The Builders and Their Buildings”, reviews in broad terms the involvement of the French and Italian architects, and the styles they applied such as: Italian Renaissance or French Baroque etc. without discussion of any individual architects' work.

The following ten sections form the core of the book. They contain black and white photographs, unaccompanied by text, of buildings and street views, and architectural details. The photographs were not intended as a documentary, and the book doesn't systematically cover one particular building type or architectural style. They rather reflect the impressions of the author, who is an anthropologist and an amateur photographer.

The book aims to draw attention to this important part of Cairo's architectural heritage which has been neglected and is in a poor state.

Fathi Bashier
Bashier, Fathi. “Paris Along the Nile, Architecture in Cairo from Belle Époque'". Translated by Fathi Bashier. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 100. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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