Committee formed to protect Downtown Cairo historical landmarks: Damaty
Saaed Halem Pasha Palace - Photo courtesy of Heide Vanderforn

CAIRO: A committee of archaeologists and conservators has been formed to develop a strategy to maintain historical palaces and villas in downtown Cairo, some of which have been turned to public schools and hospitals, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said Tuesday, Youm7 reported.

According to Damaty, “the committee is tasked with setting up a mutual comprehensive policy to protect buildings of distinctive architectural and artistic style in the area of Khedival Cairo; traced from Tahrir Square to Ramses Square then from Mohamed Ali Street to Claude Beh Street and al-Geish Street.”

The committee includes experts from the National Organization for Urban Coordination, Islamic architecture professors and officials from the Antiquities Ministry and Cairo Governorate. It will discuss legal procedures to recover the ownership of these historical buildings to the state and will also coordinate with stakeholders to restore them.

Khedival Cairo is the seat of several 100-200-year-old historical palaces and villas which “have been registered as monumental sites,” said Damaty, adding that according to the law, the term “antiquity” is applied to any building significant to Egyptian history, reflecting human, artistic, technical, military, or religious aspects, and which is over 100 years old.

These palaces have been either serving as public schools, hospitals or administrative offices by the government or private groups, or as warehouses and workshops since the early 20th century. The committee will commence its work with five palaces, including the 1899 Saaed Halem Pasha Palace and the Palace of Mohammed Al-Falaky, which is currently serving as a school, Youm7 reported.

The committee is scheduled to submit a report to the Cabinet by the end of February.

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