Stretching along the east bank of the Nile River, Garden City is an affluent residential district of Greater Cairo. It’s defined by the Nile Corniche on its western edge and the major thoroughfare of Qasr al Ayni to its east, and home to numerous international embassies and expat residents.
Planned by private investors, Garden City has an organised street layout and European feel, which stands in contrast to the development of surrounding areas. Tree-lined streets and picturesque gardens combine with elegant mansions to make it a highly sought-after area, not to mention its convenient location immediately south of the modern city at MidanTahrir. The Thabet-Thabet Building dominates the waterfront of Garden City, locally referred to as the Belmont Building for the cigarette advertising that once adorned its rooftop, as well as the Corniche waterfront promenade which extends north to the Qasr el-Nil Bridge. The Egyptian Parliament and Museum lie along Qasr El Aini to the east, together with the Ethnological Museum which displays cultural artefacts of daily life for Egyptian citizens. Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the little-known historic house of Beit El-Sennari, situated on the small street of Harat Monge. It was built in 1794 by the Sudanese occultist Ibrahim Katkhuda El-Sennari to house French artists and scholars following Napoleon’s arrival and now exhibits locally-made glassware and pottery as part of the Institute of Applied Arts. After exploring Garden City’s leafy streets on foot, take to the Nile River for a different perspective on a traditional “felucca” boat cruise at sunset.
Garden City is well served by Cairo’s metro system, with stops at both Sayyida Zainab and Saad Zaghloul stations, as well as local buses to Qasr El Aini. Alternatively, there are plenty of taxis available throughout the area and outside all the major hotels.
It was at the turn of the 20th century that architect Jose Lamba was commissioned by the Nile Land and Agricultural Company to design what would become Garden City. He drew on a popular Art Nouveau style of smaller, curved roads to create triangular divisions, which contrasts to the grid-patterned streets of the surrounding Cairo suburbs.