Not only is Cairo the capital of Egypt, but it’s also a city of rich history and culture. If you walk through its streets, you’ll discover that every neighborhood has a name and every name has a story. So let’s discover Cairo’s neighborhoods and the secrets behind their naming:
1. Al Abbasseya
Although this is currently one of Egypt’s most famous neighborhoods, its name dates back to the ruling of Muhammad Ali dynasty. It was initially named ‘Ard Al Tabala’ up until Abbas I of Egypt set up army barracks in the area. Since then, it was known as Al Abbasseya and many people from all over Egypt came to build their homes and shops on the land considering it was provided for free by the government. Today, the neighborhood is home to the Abbaseya Mental Health Hospital.
2. Khan Al Khalili
It is known for a fact that Khan Al Khalili neighborhood attracts people from all over Egypt, aside from being one of the most ancient and beautiful areas of the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Named after its founder Jaharkas al-Khalili, Master of the Stables to Sultan Barquq, the neighborhood became home to Egypt’s most famous souk or bazaar district. The area still has remnants from the Fatimid caliphate era.
3. Darb Al Barabera
The story is that this area was filled by the Berber population coming from the Arab Maghreb, Sudan and Africa in general. At the time it was known to be one of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods.
4. Darb El Mahabeel
A funny name and a funnier story. Apparently this neighborhood was home to stores that sold ice cream and residents who were drunk most of the time. So due to all the “habal” things they would do when drunk, the area got its name.
5. El Mugharbaleen
This neighborhood was inhabited by “attareen” or perfume dealers who would sift through their perfume to clear out the impurities.
6. El Soroogiya
This neighborhood was known for manufacturing everything related to horses from horseshoes to saddles, and that’s where it got its name from.
7. El-Darb El-Ahmar
After Muhammad Ali’s famous massacre of the Mamluks, which was historically known as the ‘Citadel Massacre’. Egyptian historian El Maqrizi said that the blood in the area lasted for so long until they eventually cleaned it up, which inspired the name.
8. Bab Al Louq
A few feet away from Tahrir Square you will find Bab Al Louq, one of the most ancient neighborhoods in Cairo. In the beginning of the Mamluk Sultanate era, the ground in this area would become fertile after flood season.
This name goes back to its founder General Sultani Abideen Bek after he renewed Al Fateh Mosque which was next to his house. As a result, the neighborhood was named after him and Khedive Isamel built ‘Saraya Abideen’ around the mosque, which gave it its fame.
10. Boulaq Ad Dakrour
There’s no specific time for when the ‘Takrour’ tribes came from West Africa to live in this area, which was named after them. But the naming later deviated to become Dakrour. Another story says that during the Fatimid era, Sheikh Abu Muhammad Yusuf Al Takrouri was buried in that area, which was then named after him and then became known as Dakrour.