For many years throughout the history of Cairo Zamalek or "El-Gezira"
the island was a green paradise you can spot from almost anywhere
along either bank of the Nile and it was called "Boulak" island
which was originally two islands artificially merged more than two
At the time of Khedive Ismail it was a 'Jardin de plantes"
meaning the garden of plants as it was home to the Khedive's
exotic plants shipped from all over the world.
The island's landscaping and nurseries were designed by De la Chevalerie,
who had once done the same job for the City of Paris.
A kiosk was built on the island near its east shore, and was updated
a few years later to a U-shaped baroque summer mansion or palace
(now the Marriott Hotel).
The Gezira Palace, as it was originally called, was designed by
Julius Franz Pasha and decorated
by Karl Von Diebitsch. The construction was Complete in 1869,
it was used as a guesthouse for some of the Khedive's illustrious
guests who had come to Egypt attending the opening of the Suez Canal.
Among its most noble guests were Emperor Franz-Josef of Austria
and Empress Eugenie of France.
It was on these gardens or on part of them that the building of
the Gezira Sporting Club took place in late 1882.
Two decades later Captain Stanley Flower introduced the Fish
Garden, then known as the Grotto Garden it was for a long time the
home of a rare collection of African fish. The circle of life continued
on the island and more construction took place especially to the
north of the island where some breathtaking villas, palaces and
mansions were inaugurated.
Zamalek today: Zamalek
along with Maadi and some parts of Mohandessen, Heliopolis, and
Garden City are considered as Egypt's top class residential areas,
the cream of the crop.
Zamalek witnessed many phases of growth effected by many economical
and political currents which led to a the crowding of the island
and great reductions in it's green areas.
The geographic position of Zamalek as the center of one of the world's
largest cities also contributed to its present form especially around
its shores with all the bridges leading to, from and through the