Downtown Cairo's Parisian Influence

Cairo is a fascinating, crazy, and often overwhelming city. It's full of people, animals, markets, and cars following driving rules known only to locals. This much I expected, but something I was not expecting when visiting Cairo for the first time was how much the downtown reminded me of Paris.

This is because the Khedive of Egypt (basically the governor) during the Ottoman Empire visited Paris and resolved to make Cairo more beautiful than that glorious city. He commissioned French architects to bring European style urban planning to his city, and they did so magnificently!

Although many buildings sit in disrepair, the crumbling balconies and wide boulevards of downtown Cairo lend such an air of decaying decadence, I almost prefer them to Paris. Regardless, it is a fascinating thing to see this Belle Epoque style in the middle of such a conservative Arab city. 

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