When in the early years of the twentieth century the Belgian businessman Edouard Empain began to turn his dream of building an entirely new satellite city in the desert outside Cairo into a reality, he followed the then novel urban-planning concept of the "garden city." But in naming his creation, he turned back to one of the most ancient sites in Egypt, the solar temple of Heliopolis, the biblical On, and in its architecture he sought inspiration in the heritage of Cairo's Islamic tradition. When the city, known as "New Egypt" in Arabic, was completed, a half-hour tram ride through the desert was needed to reach it. Today, Heliopolis has been enveloped within the huge and ever-growing metropolis of Cairo. However, despite rapid development, overpopulation, and increasing traffic, Heliopolis has retained much of its original character and charm, and the captivating atmosphere of Egypt's Belle Epoque is still tangible. Its houses, mosques, and churches, designed to imitate various styles of the past, have become historic buildings in their own right. This fully illustrated book introduces the reader to the history and development of Heliopolis through its architecture and its inhabitants past and present.
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