Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni approved the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ (SCA) request to build a museum to commemorate the Egyptian revolution of July 1953. This will be the first ever museum dedicated to the revolution. It will be put up in a building used by Egypt’s revolutionary leaders in El-Gezirah on Zamalek Island in Cairo.
The decision came after the SCA’s Permanent Committee listed the site of the revolution’s leadership on Egypt’s Islamic and Coptic heritage list. This structure is the former site of several meetings of the era’s leaders who made most of the critical decisions there.
Built in 1949 by the late King Farouk on the banks of the Nile River, this historic edifice consists of three floors with 40 rooms. King Farouk built it and used it as dock for his royal yacht.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, met today with architect Ahmed Mito to discuss plans of turning the building into a museum. Hawass calls on all historians, artists, intellectuals and anyone interested to get involved and to share in developing the museum. Ideas, art concepts and artistic ability will help benefit bring the building up to better shape while turning it into a museum.
“It is a complementary step to what was started in 1996 by the Fine Arts department, following President Mubarak’s initiative to transform the building into a museum that relates the history of this great revolution that changed Egypt’s history,” said Hawass.
Dr. Mohamed Ismail, general supervisor of the Permanent Committees, said that the decision to place the building on Egypt’s Islamic and Coptic heritage list underlines its architectural and historical importance. The building’s architectural condition, added Ismail, was inspected by SCA experts as a first step toward its development.
Zamalek is an island on the Nile. It lies between modern, busy, bustling downtown Cairo and Giza. It is an upscale, garden area with a number of attractions, as well as embassies, schools, popular hotels and budget hotels. Zamalek has lines of resorts including the popular Cairo Marriott hotel, the former Gezira Sheraton (now Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah), a busy hotel popular with sightseeing tourists on lunch breaks and dinners, and other economy resorts. The Gezira Club, a country club originally built by the British, the modern Cairo Opera House and landmarks such as the Cairo Tower, are all on the island.
Prior to World War II, and ever since the construction of the original Gezira Palace in 1866, Zamalek island was almost exclusively known as Gezirat Boulaq (Boulaq Island). The name Boulaq came from a thriving port by the same name on the Nile’s eastern bank. During this time period there was a small bridge linking the island’s midsection to Giza, along with the street that intersected the island’s middle named Zamalek. This street later became Avenue Fouad, and after 1952 took its present name, 26th of July Avenue, according to Jim Dunn.