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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Exploring Cairo: A walk through the historic grandeur of Korba

Soha Elsirgany and Nourhan Tewfik , Wednesday 28 Sep 2016
Korba (Photo: Soha El-Sirgany)
Views: 5780
Views: 5780

Founded in 1906 by Beglian entrepreneur Baron Édouard Empain, the Heliopolis quarter in northeast Cairo still retains something of that era's grandeur. This is especially true of the Korba district, which offers a bit of everything, from food to shopping to picturesque buildings.

Korba's Baghdad Street is lined with some of Cairo’s architectural gems, which renders a walk through the colonnaded pavements a particularly pleasant experience.

One is the famous pastry shop Mandarine Koueider. The shop still has its old charm, and is today a much-cherished stop for ice cream toom, offering a wide variety of flavours. We recommend the raspberry yoghurt flavour, EGP 12 for a scoop or EGP 115 for a kilo.

Venus bakery
(Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Conveniently placed next door is a small courtyard belonging to an abandoned apartment, suitable for a short hangout if you don’t want to walk with that ice cream cone.

For a classic lunch with a whiff of nostalgia, head to Chantilly. Also on Baghdad Street, the Swiss Air restaurant offers an array of delicious platters which you can either enjoy in the air-conditioned indoors, or in their outdoor seating area.

Mandarine Koueider
(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

If you’re curious about the interiors of the buildings you're walking past, the Italian restaurant Pepenero offers an alternative view of the busy street from its first floor terrace.

Their authentic Italian pizzas made with buffalo mozzarella range from EGP 60 to EGP 90, and the Nutella Calzone makes a hearty dessert that can be shared, served for EGP 90.

Venus Bakery and Pastry is another historical stop on this street; stop to enjoy the unmistakable scent of freshly baked goodies wafting from its doors.

Mandarine Koueider
(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Venus offers a rich assortment of savory and sweet baked goods, including breads, croissants, cookies, crackers, etc. We recommend their famous "medafara", a braided ring loaf, at EGP 8.

Le Chantilly
(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Behind Baghdad Street is a residential area that is a nice spot for a stroll. Look out for the different types of architecture, and unique building entrances.

Hidden in a street parallel to Baghdad lies Photopia, a photography hub that was erected in a garage of one of the street’s buildings.

Photopia offers classes, talks, photography equipment for sale, a studio, as well as a little cafe for photography aficionados. Photopia is open daily, except for Sundays, from noon to 9pm and on Fridays starting 2pm. The space is open for photographers to drop by and commune. It also often hosts music concerts in the evening.

Nearby is a newly opened cafe and restaurant named Tassa, or cooking pot. The place is furnished like a traditional Arabic qahwa or café, and is an ideal spot to grab coffee.

Venus bakery
(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

The most iconic qahwa however remains Ahwet Aswan, which extends onto the street at night, overflowing with customers engaged in conversations over shisha and coffee.

Just around the corner is the Basilica church of Heliopolis, crowning the metro line.

(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Empain laid the foundation stone of the Catholic Basilica of Our Lady, also known as the Basilica of Heliopolis or the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, in November 1910.

The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

For a night out, Cinema Normandy on Ibrahim El-Laqqani Street shows the latest Egyptian films, with a ticket sold at EGP 20 at the open-air garden cinema, and EGP 25 for a seat in their indoor winter cinema.

Basilica Church
(Photo: Soha Elsirgany)

Walking further down the street, you’ll come across L'Amphitryon, a restaurant founded in 1922. For the best experience, make sure you enjoy your meal on its outdoor terrace.

Close to L'Amphitryon is Groppi’s Heliopolis branch, another landmark of the area, which sits right in front of the Presidential Palace, with an outdoor terrace usually best on cooler days and nights.

The interior of this historic café is as charming as ever, with its high ceilings adorned in painted glass.

Normandy cinema
(Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

The place still offers a variety of rich pastries. Their famous millefeuille can be enjoyed for EGP 10 a piece (sold at EGP 6.25 if you plan to take it away). Alternatively, you can go for Groppi’s meringue pieces, sold at EGP 5 (for two pieces).

(Photo: Nourhan Tewfik)

Bonus: The shops around Korba on Al-Ahram Street have some of the most vibrant window displays in the city.



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