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Saturday, 27 February 2021

Heliopolis - 'the Sun City': Photographic gems

'Heliopolis was established in the desert, on a site near the ruins of the old Heliopolis city, 'the sun city' of ancient Egyptians, and thus came the name Heliopolis'

Amira Noshokaty , Thursday 11 Feb 2021
Heliopolis
The Baron Empan Palace, all rights reserve to Lenhert&Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet
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Ahram Online is happy to share several photographic gems of the ancient district of Heliopolis. The photos are part of the rare collection captured by the renowned Lehnert and Landrock between 1924 and 1930. All copyrights are reserved to Lenhert & Landrock- Dr. E. Lambelet.

1
The Palace Hotel. All rights reserved to Lenhert & Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet

“Heliopolis was established in the desert, on a site near the ruins of the old Heliopolis city, “the sun city” of ancient Egyptians, and thus came the name Heliopolis. The company benefited from such a site by promoting and describing the project as an oasis in the desert in order to attract tourists to their hotel, which organised bedouin nights for them in the dessert,” read the online dissertation titled ‘The Garden Suburbs of Cairo: A Morphological Approach’, by Mohammed El-Azzazi.

2
Heliopolis Apartment blocks. All rights reserved to Lenhert & Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet

“In the late 1890s, investors were competing to obtain the rights to run light railway lines in the Delta and Cairo. Edouard Empain (1852- 1929), a Belgian investor, came to Egypt by the end of the 19th century, leading a consortium of Belgian companies known as the Empain Group, to invest mainly in the railway industry,” goes the book.

3
The view from Baron Empain Palace. All rights reserved to Lenhert & Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet

And so came the idea of building Heliopolis, with its first building being founded in 1908.

One of the key elements of the city was a tramline that connected all of its streets and even stretched to reach the Cairo Railway Station on Ramsis street.

4
A view of the whole district with the Basilica in the center. All rights reserved to Lenhert & Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet

The original plan of the district included entertainment venues such as Heliopolis Sporting Club, a hotel, and a horse race track, as well as the famous amusement park ‘Luna Park’.

5
The horse race Track. All rights reserved to Lenhert & Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet

“Several architects have participated in the distinguishable architectural development of Heliopolis, such as the French architects Ernest Jasper (1876-1940), Alexandre Marcel (1860-1928), Camille Robida (1880-1938), and the Belgian Léon Rolin (1871-1950),” read the dissertation.

“Marcel was responsible for the design of the Baron Empain ‘Hindou’ Palace, Prince Hussein Kamel Palace, the Basilica Church, several villas, and the gate of Luna Park. Jasper designed the Heliopolis Palace Hotel, the headquarter office building of the two companies, and several villas and apartment buildings.”

“Robiba designed several villas, as well as the iconic racecourse pavilion building. Rolin and Cie were responsible for the construction of the two brick factories and the railways workshops. The French architects had designed several monumental buildings, mixing Parisian massing with Moorish architecture, making Heliopolis closer to the ‘grand designs’ in Beaux-Arts rather than the picturesque cottages of the garden city movement,” it continued.

6
Square of Queen Elisabeth, overlooking the Basilica. All rights reserved to Lenhert & Landrock-Dr. E.Lambelet

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