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Case Studies 

Asafra Beach



Contributed by 
Nada Ishaq
Project for Public Spaces
October 23, 2002
December 14, 2017

Egyptians say "Alexandria is Asafra": the beach that runs parallel to the city's main street.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Asafra is a long beach that is shaped in waves so that as you are walking, the road appears to end; yet you are surprised to see another wave still ahead of you. You can see the sunset quite clearly from each wave. You can also see a few old places that must have been built when the beach was quiet and set apart from the busy life of the city. Some important buildings like the Alexandria Library are located across from the beach.

The interesting thing about Asafra is that although it is a very long, and not very fancy or designed, it is always full of life and people, all day long until late at night. If you decide to take a walk, you may be surprised to find that you have walked for hours without noticing. Maybe it is the many places to sit down and relax, or the different items you can buy from all the carts that are scattered along the beach. Perhaps it's the Egyptian people who are full of life and enthusiasm. It's just a place where you may lose track of time.

Access & Linkages

The beach is at the far northwestern side of the city, and the main road runs parallel to it. Concerning access, I must say that it has some problems. The beach is accessible to pedestrians through tunnels that link to other side of the busy road, but the fast movement of the cars contradicts the peaceful yet lively impression of the beach.

Comfort & Image

The strange thing is that besides the scene of the sea, the beach facilities are not fancily designed in terms of architecture and landscaping. There are different kinds of places and restaurants along the beach, but one might say that they are all common. All the buildings on the other side of the road are five-10 stories, either three-star hotels or residential buildings, yet you feel very comfortable there. The beach is generally clean. Some parts are clearly new, some are very well maintained, but there are also parts that look neglected.

Uses & Activities

I stayed in a hotel across from the beach for four days, and I never once saw it empty. Some parts on the beach are not used as much, but these areas just vanish in the big picture and you don't recognize them unless you concentrate.


It is a very sociable place. I have seen people of all ages there. Groups of teenagers from both sexes walk, talk, and laugh openly. Old people sit down on the 100cm-high wall that separates the beach from the wide pavement next to it. I even see people just sitting there looking quite gloomy and thoughtful as if they were on the sofa at home thinking about life and their problems. This sociability is the main reason why I liked this beach despite its negative points.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

I think the success of a public space also depends on the social life of people. In Egypt, people just love to go out: as families, individuals, groups of friends, or just elderly people sitting and watching life go on. Egyptians say: "Alexandria is Asafra" - which means all the life of Alexandria as a coastal city is in this beach.

Related Links & Sources

Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach
Asafra Beach

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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