Documentary films explore the neighborhoods and alleys of Old Cairo

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Cairo – The Egyptian capital, founded in 969, is distinguished by its various architectural designs and artistic styles, which transform the city into an open-air museum and arouse everyone’s curiosity.

As part of efforts to shed light on the city’s history and its historical buildings, archaeologist Zizou Abdo, who focuses on Cairo’s heritage, launched an initiative called Cairo biography. The initiative seeks to preserve Cairo’s heritage and raise awareness of the need to preserve it by various means.

Abdo and his team spent months cleaning and removing garbage from some of Cairo’s monuments that had been neglected over the years. He filmed videos narrating the history of ancient neighborhoods since the establishment of Cairo, as well as the changes made to the old houses, mosques, the sabil (fountains with traditional Islamic architecture) and the takiyya as part of a documentary series called “Cairo. A Biography Through Its Rich Paths.”

Abdo explained that the documentary – which includes eight episodes posted on the initiative’s Facebook page – aims to shed light on Cairo’s heritage given the religious, historical and architectural importance of the city.

He told Al-Monitor that the initiative was launched in September 2020 to educate the public about the importance of antiquities and the need to preserve the city’s heritage, through tours and cleaning campaigns around some of the neglected old buildings in Cairo. It restores their luster and luster.

Abdo said that he and the initiative team began filming episodes to show the Egyptian alleys and neighborhoods, and photographing their historical and aesthetic details in video clips that serve as a guide for a tour of the city. He added that each video clip narrates the history of the alley and enumerates the ancestral features remaining there.

He said that he is trying to rediscover the beauty of the ancient Egyptian alleys and share this beauty in a simple and fun way with everyone, especially the residents of Cairo, so that they get to know the historical and architectural value of their city.

Abdo’s initiative consists of historical geography, which focuses on city streets and neighborhood planning, as each historical period has its own architectural footprint and story. Abdo said that Cairo is home to many heritage buildings that the state and individuals alike need to preserve. He emphasized that the state should cooperate and provide the necessary support to initiatives that focus on Cairo’s heritage in order to protect the urban monuments of Cairo.

Abdo pointed out the details and beauty – which are impossible to notice at first glance – hidden in the alleys and neighborhoods of Cairo. He said that ancient but questionable stories about neighborhoods led him to check all the information he could find in the history books as city planning was discussed with the aim of dispelling myths about some of the monuments in Cairo’s neighborhoods. Before filming the videos, listen carefully to the residents of Cairo’s neighborhoods.

Abdo used his mobile phone camera for filming and included in the videos old and new photos to show what these neighborhoods were in the past and what they became – and this includes changes to their residents as well as their buildings. So far, episodes have been published on Harat al-Karbiyya, Harat al-Habbaniyah, Harat al-Skayin, Harat al-Maghribleen, Bir al-Mish, Harat al-Sit Miska, Harat al-Hamzawi and Harat al-Sandaqiya.

Adbo follows a path or map in every video, because every neighborhood has its start and end. The film takes viewers on a learning journey about the history of the neighborhood and its ancient buildings through an artistic narration that provides plenty of historical information. The film details the daily life of the neighborhood and the personality and behavior of its residents and celebrities who lived there. The videos also have English subtitles.

The first documentary film focused on the Karbiyya neighborhood, located outside Bab Zuweila, in the Darb al-Ahmar area. The neighborhood was famous for the details of Islamic architecture for its ancient buildings, and the artist Samia Gamal lived in it.

Abdo sought to shine a light on the little-known streets and alleys of Cairo so that people could go on a private tour if they liked the capital’s Islamic architectural heritage. Episode 15 will shed light on the Bir al-Mish railway, which is located in the Darb al-Ahmar area behind the Abu Huraybah Mosque (or the Prince Qamas al-Ishaqi Mosque) that appears on 50 Egyptian. -a pound. The mosque dates back to the Mamluk era and is rich in decorative and architectural details.

The eighth episode focuses on the Sanadikia Quarter, located next to the Al-Azhar Mosque. Al-Madaq Alley, which is the title (Al-Madaq Lane) by Naguib Mahfouz’s novel, is one of the most prominent features of this alley. Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti (1753-1822), one of the most famous historians in modern Egyptian history, lived in that region.

Abdo said that the ninth episode will focus on the traveler’s palace in the historical Al-Gamaleya area, and will be devoted to Gamal Al-Ghitani, a writer and novelist who is fond of aesthetics, its implications and stories.

Archaeologist Moaz Lafi told Al-Monitor that the “Cairo Biography” documentary series informs people and researchers about the architectural heritage of Cairo and encourages them to tour these alleys instead of just visiting the famous Al-Moez Street. In the historic walled city of Cairo. Lavi pointed out that there are other neighborhoods in Cairo that are no less important than Al-Muizz Street in terms of their historical and archaeological value, such as Al-Suyoufiya neighborhood, Al-Hataba, Al-Darb Al-Ahmar, and Al-Sanadiyya.

He said that what distinguishes Muizz Street from the rest of Old Cairo is that it has been developed, open to the public, provides services, and is safe.

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