Last week we marvelled at Alexandria’s architectural history and delved into the heart of the intangible heritage of the coastal city.
Heritage walks are usually pleasant, but walking with Mohamed Gohar, the founder of the heritage map of Alexandria, part of his project Description of Alexandria, was a real treat.
We started off from the heart of Alexandria’s Latin quarter where the buildings held up high the names of the architects who built it, while others bore the initials of the original owners. Another interesting detail is the fact that some buildings were initially designed for a certain entity such as the National Insurance Building, which was pointed out by architect and artist Mohamed Gohar.
Goethe Institute Building
A few meters away we encountered a unique building that is currently the premises of Goethe Institute. Dating back to 1925, this villa was built by Max Jacques Rolo (1890-1958) and fused neo-Gothic and Art Deco styles.
A few meters away we came across Alexandria’s famous Shalalat Gardens (waterfalls). Over 100-years-old, the gardens were designed by the American landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) who transformed the land into several levels, creating the waterfalls. The garden also looks upon the ruins of Alexandria’s ancient gate.
Shalalat gardens, statue of artiat mahmoud said
Ruins of Alexandria's old gate at Shalalat gardens, photo by amira noshokaty
Houses overlooking the Shalalat garden, photo amira noshokaty
Fouad Street (Canopi street)
According to the El-Gazayerli Encyclopedia for Alexandria's Street Names, published by the Alexandria Library in 2011, “The Canopi street was the longest street in Alexandria that went to 5090 meters covering the whole length of the city, it started west with al Qabari district and ends east at the Canopi Gate that was named later the Eastern Gate of Alexandria. The name Canopi is derived from 'Canopus', the name of a village in Rashid, which is the estuary of the western bank of the Nile,”
Being Alexandria’s oldest route, the street looks upon a variety of architectural marvels.
Details from fouad street, oldest road in alexandria, photo by amira noshokaty
Details from fouad street, photo by amira noshokaty
A sufi mausoleum on fouad street, photo amira noshokaty
Alexandria National Museum
Located on Fouad street, the building was designed by Victor Erlanger in 1931. Originally the residence of Assad Bassili Pasha, the owner of a timber import company in the early 20th century, it was then used to house the US consulate after national confiscation in the 1960s. Then, it was purchased by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture in 1997 and turned into the Alexandria National Museum in 2003.
National museum of alexandria on fouad street, photo amira noshokaty
Said Darwish Theatre
This theatre was built in 1921 by the French architect George Barak to resemble the Vienna Opera House and The Odeon theatre in Paris. It still carries the name of Mohamed Ali Pasha on its main entrance. Now known as Said Darwish theatre, the building serves as Alexandria’s opera house.
Said darwish theater, photo amira noshokaty
We ended our walk in a local café that overlooks the Alexandria stock market (El-Borsa), from which it gets its name. El-Borsa is said to be one of the oldest cafes in the neighbourhood.
Al borsa cafe Photo by amira noshokaty