Photos: Khedive Cairo, the essence of European architecture

Downtown is the heart of Khedive Cairo, the soul of European architecture in the capital of the East.

Downtown Cairo houses some masterpieces of the Khedival architecture, specifically on al-Alfy Street, in the most prestigious historical district in Egypt.

The district has buildings dating back to the 1920s, evoking the spirit of the Renaissance in Paris and the Golden Age in Egypt, with impeccable architectural details on buildings that the wealthy left to live in the Heliopolis district.

Alfy Street is considered one of the largest streets in downtown Cairo.

It is 135 meters in length and 22 meters wide. It connects Oraby Square and Imad Eddin Street.

Although Alfy Street is not long, it witnessed many historical events that represented a milestone in Egyptian history, like the French campaign in Egypt and the Cairo Fire in 1952.

Alfy Street contains many old restaurants and modern cafes, such as Umm Kulthum Cafe, Al Falero Sweets and Alfy Bey restaurant.

The street was renovated as part of a project by Cairo Governorate local authorities between 2015 and 2017, cleared of street vendors, and had trees planted, a new lighting system and a granite sidewalk installed.

The street was planned during the reign of Khedive Tawfiq, when the Tawfiqia area was established. Alfy Street was called, until 1906, Tawfiq Street, and was one of the most famous streets of art and theater in the royal era.

The name of the street goes back to the Mamluk prince, Mohammed Bey al-Alfy, who lived through the French campaign, and disputed Muhammad Ali Pasha over the rule of Egypt, with the support of England.

Alfy is considered the last of the Mamluk princes, and he is one of the Mamluks of Murad Bey, who came to Egypt with a merchant, and was able to gain fame and a position that made him one of the rivals of Muhammad Ali Pasha of the throne of Egypt.

It was said that the Ottoman Empire addressed him and not Muhammad Ali Pasha, although he was the official ruler of Egypt at that time.

Alfy owned a gigantic palace located on the corner of Alfy Street, in front of the Azbakeya pond.

Napoleon Bonaparte made the palace the seat of government.

During the reign of Khedive Ismail, the palace was turned into a garden when the opera house was being established.

Alfy Bey restaurant

One of the most famous landmarks of Alfy Street is Alfy Bey restaurant

The restaurant was originally the old Printania theater, which was one of the largest theaters in Cairo.

Work began on the theatre with the opening of the street in 1906, and its name was changed in 1918 to the Tivoli Theatre.

The Alfy Bey restaurant owner Fathy al-Hadidy stated that he demolished the old theatre and replaced it with a building houses the Alfy Bey restaurant.

Above the restaurant is the Shahrazad nightclub, and part of the building is occupied by the Cinema Cairo.

This building has three facades: the first overlooking Alfy Street, where the restaurant is located, the second overlooking Zakaria Ahmed Street, and the third overlooking Saray Azbakeya Street, where the Cinema Cairo is.

Alfy Bey restaurant, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.
Alfy Bey restaurant, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.

Windsor Hotel

The Windsor Hotel building is numbered “19” on Alfy Street. It was built at the beginning of the twentieth century as bathrooms for the royal family, then turned into a club for the nobility. It was also a place for English officers before the revolution of 1919.

Windsor Hotel is 3-star and was famous for its Barrel Bar. Europeans now frequent it, and many series and programs were filmed in it.

Windsor Hotel, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.
Windsor Hotel, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.

Diana Cinema

Diana Cinema, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo
Diana Cinema, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.

Diana Cinema was opened on Alfy Street in 1931.

In the same area, Rex Park cinema was demolished and replaced by the Insurance Authority building in 1957.

On the corner of Emad Eddin Street with Alfy Street, lies the Adas building. Before the Adas building, there was the al-Korsal Theater, which was established by Dilbani in 1913. Many stars performed on this theater like Nageeb al-Rihany and Umm Kulthum.

Diana Cinema, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.
Diana Cinema, Alfy Street, downtown Cairo.

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