Egypt is aiming to establish the biggest open garden in the Middle East and has, therefore, decided to restore Old Cairo’s Al-Fustat Garden in 2022.
Among the series of mega projects implemented by the Egyptian government, the national Al-Fustat Garden Project stands out, as it complements the timeless history of Cairo.
The Al-Fustat Gardens were established in 641 CE by Arab commander Amr Ibn Al-Aas, and its location is now in the middle of the landmarks of Cairo and Giza.
The project aims to restore the old garden to its former glory and turn it into a sophisticated tourist destination of an ancient architectural character with integrated services.
The projects development plan tries to match a public park design that has a view of several archaeological and historical sites and landmarks.
This will make it a regional and global tourist destination whilst providing a number of recreational activities. It will also support traditional industries specific to the region, in addition to reviving the area’s heritage and showcase its various historical eras.
Atef Al-Dabbah, the Director of the Technical Office of the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Daily News Egypt that work has been done to develop the area of the religious complex located in Old Cairo, the heritage area, and the Fustat hills as part of the area’s development plan.
He said that the project aims to transform Al-Fustat Garden into an open botanical museum containing the most important plants.
Al-Dabbah added that the plan also includes restoring the historical mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas and the religious complex, which is considered home to the three monotheistic religions and one of the oldest religious buildings in Egypt.
The courtyard area of the mosque is planned to be the main entrance to the new park and other religious sites in the area, including the Coptic churches and the ancient Jewish synagogue.
Egypt’s First Islamic Capital, Al-Fustat, was established by Amr Ibn Al-Aas in 641 CE. According to local stories, the city was called Al-Fustat because the word ‘fustat’ meant ‘tent’, referring to Amr Ibn Al-Aas’ tent.
Al-Fustat’s very first building was the mosque built by the Arab commander, which was erected on the site of the tent in which most of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad gathered.
The old capital is now part of the Old Cairo district. It is one of the most deep-rooted places in Greater Cairo, as it contains many archaeological sites, such as the Synagogue of Ben E’zra, more than seven old churches, the mosque, the excavated remains of the old capital, the Nilometer on Al-Rhoda Island, the palace of Al-Manesterley, and Mohammad Ali Pasha Palace in Al-Manyal.
Al-Dabbah explained that restoring the area also aims to highlight the archaeological excavations in the area.
Archaeological and scientific excavations led by Egyptian archaeologist Ali Bahgat and French engineer Albert Gabriel started in the area in 1912.
The excavations discovered what were known as ‘Fustat houses’, which dated back to the Tulunid era of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, who established the first independent dynasty to rule Egypt.
Restoration of the area also includes the Ain Al-Sira Lake, which was opened in conjunction with the opening of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation during the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade last April, explained Al-Dabbah.
Furthermore, he confirmed that the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities — in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing and the Slums Development Fund — is also developing roads linking Fatimid Cairo with Al-Fustat and the Cairo Citadel Aqueduct.
The strategic objective of the project is creating the largest green breathing space in Cairo, highlighting the major roads and entrances of the garden as well as the main attractions in the surrounding area and linking the park with these sites.
According to Governor of Cairo Khaled Abdel Aal, Al-Fustat Garden will also comprise a number of areas, including heritage gardens, adventure, cultural, historical, flower gardens, and market areas, as well as an entertainment centre.
Spokesperson for the Urban Development Fund Ehab Hanafy said that the Al-Fustat Gardens is the largest project in the Middle East aiming to establish gardens on an area of about 500 acres.