Art and Culture
Home to Egyptian royalty and the British soldiers, European immigrants as well as native Cairenes from its earliest days, Downtown Cairo’s diversity encouraged cultural exchange. Contemporary and cosmopolitan, the district quickly became the intellectual heart of the city. Sidewalk cafes set the stage for lively debate, hotel bars served budding playwrights, cafeterias such as Groppi became popular hangouts for novelists and the ever-changing boulevards inspired the city’s painters and photographers, whose works sprinkled the neighborhood’s galleries. A luxury residential unit on
Sadly, many of the venues no longer exist in their original form. The Opera House tragically burned in 1971, the dance school is now a hotel and Naguib Mahfouz would no longer recognize the cafe he visited daily. Nonetheless, Downtown remains the artistic and cultural hub of Egypt’s capital city. Sidewalk cafes are still alive with debate, Horreya and Cafe Riche remain popular with journalists and it would not be surprising to find a writer or two quietly working at the bar of the historic Windsor Hotel. Cairo’s literary history is preserved in several Downtown bookstores, such as Shorouk and Madbouli on Taalat Harb Square, Reader’s Corner on Abdel Khaleq Tharwat Street and Kasr El Nil Street’s L’Orientalist.
Although Mahmoud Mokhtar’s gallery is now overtaken by a mechanic’s shop, many other galleries have taken up residence in Downtown. Townhouse Gallery sits nearby the beloved sculptor’s former gallery on Hussein El Me’mar Pasha Street, next to Rawabet Theater; a popular stage for independent performers. On