Al-Azhar Park

Cairo, Egypt

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

A new hilltop park in the midst of one of Cairo’s most interesting neighborhoods.

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Why It Works

In transforming such a large part of Cairo, which was for so long used as an open dump, the impact of Al-Azhar Park on the city is tremendous. It has been planned with a multitude of activities in mind and incorporates a conceptualised hilltop lookout kiosk, a children's play area, an amphitheatre and stage, playing fields, a viewing plaza and a historical wall promenade.

What Makes Al-Azhar Park a Great Place?

As a tool for improving the aesthetic and overall safety/comfort of the neighbourhood, the Al-Ahzar Park development project inlcudes a microcredit program for neighbouring residents to restore dwellings and improve existing/found new businesses.

The park not only provides recreation space for 15 million + residents of Cairo but also vistas of the city that have never been observed before.

Creating this park entailed restoring several historical monuments in the adjacent Darb Al Ahmar community and included social programs for this poor, overpopulated neighborhood, which used to be frequented by drug dealers.

These programs include employment, training and healthcare services, and were undertaken with the belief that the people of Cairo are the key to the park's sustainability.

History & Background

Al-Azhar Park on Al-Darassa spans 30 hectares and was opened in 2005 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture's Historic Cities Programme to act as a 'green lung' for the city, as its largest designed greenspace.

Previously a municipal rubbish dump (for about 500 years), approximately 80,000 truckload of debris had to be removed before construction started and in the process a 12th century Ayyubid city wall of Cairo that was built during the reign of Salah el-Din, as well as some valuable stones with hieroglyphic texts were uncovered!

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