19th century Cairo building turns out to be Helwan theatre, not royal palace

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 12 Apr 2016

Local residents had suspected the structure was once a residence of Tawfiq Pasha, former khedive of Egypt

Helwan theatre

A building in Helwan which was reported by locals to be a palace belonging to 19th century ruler Tawfiq Pasha has been identified by antiquities officials as the Helwan Theatre.

After inspecting the building in Noubar Street in Helwan in southern Cairo, an archaeological committee appointed by the antiquities ministry said that the structure was in fact the theatre, which had not been listed on Egypt's official heritage list, a ministry press release said.

Ibrahim Nayrouz, director of the documentation administration in the ministry, told Ahram Online that the theatre was built in 1892 and registered on Cairo governorate's list as a historic edifice with distinguished architecture. 

The theatre, he continued, follows the National Organization for Urban Harmony and not the ministry of antiquities because it is not listed on Egypt's Heritage List.   

Nayrouz added that the inspection tour revealed that the theatre's widows and entrance areas are blocked with mud brick. The wooden facade of the stage remains in place, and the ceiiling is decorated with masks and harp shapes, Nayrouz said. A few chairs sit in front of the stage.

The building is unfortunately in very poor condition, he added.

A detailed report is to be sent to the ministry of antiquities. The ministry will then discuss the future of the building with the National Organization for Urban Harmony.

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