ZAMALEK district of Cairo
This large island in the middle of the Nile is called ZAMALEK. It is a residential neighborhood of choice for expatriates but also for upper class Egyptian families. Walking through the shaded streets of Zamalek, you will see embassies, schools, art galleries and 19th century villas, and the shopping is grand. In Zamalek, you will find some of the most fashionable jewelry shops, book stores, and antique dealers in Cairo, along with upscale department stores.
The Nile is never far for an evening stroll or a sail on a “feluka” (Egyptian sailboat) right across from Zamalek. Whether in the mood for a romantic sail or for enjoying a drink with a group of friends, drifting on the Nile is a very relaxing moment. The outside world shuts down for only the sound of water and the sails. But there is another quiet relaxing place: the terraces of the HOTEL LONGCHAMPS. While Cairo is a busy metropolis, once you enter this boutique hotel, a peaceful atmosphere will draw you to the terrace to ponder over your discoveries of the day.
Technically, Zamalek is the northern part of Gezira Island, one of two large islands in the Nile within Cairo. While mostly uninhabited and undeveloped into the mid 19th century, Mohammed Ali built a palace and guard house at the northern tip as he modernized the rest of Cairo. Later, the Khedive Ismail built a large palace in the center of the island, along with a huge garden, while also building up the sides of the island adding a jetty to make access easier. At that time, the gardens contained exotic plant life and collections of African animals, fountians and pavilions.
Today, the island is home to such notable establishments as the Cairo Opera House, the Cairo Tower, the Fish Gardens, the offices of the Antiquities Department (perhaps one reason the Hotel Longchamps often hosts Egyptologists) and many others. Located in the heart of Cairo, the island is only a short distance away from Old Coptic Cairo, the famous Khan el-Khalili Bazaar and old Islamic Cairo, and many other sites.