Al Azhar Park in Cairo is perhaps best described as being a vast sea of tranquility in the midst of the city, a city which is renowned for its frenetic and chaotic way of life. Alternatively, one could describe Al Azhar Park as being an oasis in the heart of an urbanized desert. So many people visit this bustling and charismatic city without ever realizing that it is also home to a magnificent public park; a wonderful retreat where one can go to in order to escape all the madness.
Al Azhar Park is universally recognized as being one of the top 60 public spaces in the world, and anyone who visits the park will soon see why. In fact, it would be impossible to discuss or even mention all of the park’s features in a single short post, so the next time you are in Cairo, set a few hours aside and spend them at the sprawling 30-hecter Al Azhar Park .
A Brief History of Al Azhar Park
The idea of creating what would become Al Azhar Park was born in 1984 while Agha Khan IV was visiting Cairo for a conference.
A descendent of the Fatamid-Imam Caliphs who originally founded the city of Cairo in 969, Agha Khan IV was standing on his hotel balcony, staring at what was literally a mountain of rubbish which had accumulated over a period of more than 500 years.
It was then that he decided to give the city a gift, and he duly allocated a total of US$30 million for a project which would transform the mountain of rubbish into an oasis.
For obvious reasons, this gigantic project faced many technical challenges. After all, half a millennium worth of rubbish had to be dealt with before the project could even get fully underway.
More than 760,000 cubic meters of rubbish was subsequently removed from the area altogether, while another 160,000 cubic meters of rubbish was moved and used for filling elsewhere on the site.
Lastly, a total of 605,000 cubic meters was professionally treated using the very latest technology, after which it was mixed with about 60,000 cubic meters of specially selected sand and topsoil. This mixture was then used to coat the entire site with a layer of good soil ranging from half a meter to two meters in depth.
In total, more than 1.5 million cubic meters of rubble and soil were moved, equaling roughly 80,000 truckloads.
Once the site had been adequately prepared, other work was able to get underway, including the building of three underground water cisterns. A relatively large section of the city’s original wall was also discovered and subsequently restored to its former magnificence.
Much of the surrounding area was also later incorporated into the overall project. Buildings were refurbished and renovated, as were a number of run down monuments.
The Landscaping of Al Azhar Park
While all the technical challenges were being handled, others were hard at work with landscaping which included bringing in exotic plants from all over the world.
The planners and those responsible for the landscaping were not willing to take any chances, so before any plants made it into the park; some were first grown under simulated conditions at places such as the American University in Cairo.
Only when the survivability of a particular species had been established, were the plants actually planted at the Al Azhar Park. Nearly every species used was subjected to the same scrutiny, while at the same time; others were busy installing other features in the park, including several fountains; water channels; Fatimid arches, and so much more.
One of the most endearing things about Al Azhar Park is the fact that the designers did an astonishingly good job at integrating traditional Islamic-style landscaping in a way which blends seamlessly with the overall design and layout of Al Azhar Park.
The park also has a number of playgrounds for children, and visitors strolling along the park’s many winding pathways will find ample scenic overlooks where they can take a break to admire the splendor of the park.
There are also a few cafes located near the gates where visitors can stock up with some refreshments and etc.
Including the Park in Your Egypt Tour
While you may not always see Al-Azhar Park featured in our Cairo Tour Packages, at Egypt Tours Plus, we highly recommend visiting the park if you have some time to spare when you are in Cairo, or if you simply feel like taking a break from sightseeing at the city’s top tourist attractions.
Not only are visitors guaranteed a pleasant and very relaxing experience, but the park’s location also offers spectacular views of the city. Despite its many modern elements, the park’s designers have made sure that when you stroll through the park, it is like going for a stroll through Cairo’s fascinating past.
In short, Al-Azhar Park is a highly recommended attraction away from the bustling crowds.
When people think about Cairo Tourist Attractions, they often only think about places such as the Giza Plateau with its Pyramids and the Sphinx; the the Egyptian Museum, and etc. but in truth, this fascinating city has so much more to offer as well, including places like Al-Azhar Park.
Remember, at Egypt Tour Plus, all of our Egypt Tour Packages can be tailored to meet your own exact needs.