The Ruins

The past is everywhere when you visit Cairo. Not surprising – the city and country have a recorded history that goes back for millennia.

I’d never heard of Said Halim Pasha until I saw these ruins as I walked along a downtown Cairo street. We weren’t sightseeing as such, just moving from Point A to Point B when the building caught my eye.

There were no plaques in any language to indicate the historical significance. But an online search for “ruined palace, downtown Cairo” got me the name and the story. Of course, I may not have the right spot, but the description said it was near many car part stores, and I saw lots of those on the street.

Said Halim Pasha was the grandson of Muhammed Ali (not the boxer), who more or less founded modern Egypt. The palace bears his name, though some refer to it by the name of the street it stands on. Pasha served as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916, then was exiled by the British during the First World War and his possessions, including the palace he had built, were confiscated.

The building was used as a school until 1952. Now it stands empty, though I suppose there could be squatters – I don’t know if such things are allowed in Cairo. I guess that is one of the drawbacks of a place where there is so much history – it is simply too expensive to maintain all the old buildings.

The place looked intriguing to me as we walked past, so I snapped a couple of pictures, which allowed me to then find out the back story. I must admit, I know little to nothing about the Ottoman Empire. This building has me wondering if perhaps there should be more history on my reading list.

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