Egyptian diplomat Hussein Roshdy was recently in touch with me asking about the Gezira Palace Hotel. Not the original Gezira Palace Hotel that opened in the former royal residence built for the visit of Empress Eugenie, but the “fake” Gezira Palace Hotel, which stole the name when the original closed. This was a new hotel that occupied part, or maybe all, of a 1940s (I’m guessing at the date) apartment block on the Corniche at Bulaq, exactly across from the real Gezira Palace. In the photo above, which is taken from the roof of the old Semiramis hotel some time in the 1960s, the building with the new Gezira Palace Hotel is one of the pair just to the right of the Aboulela Bridge in the distance. I wrote in Grand Hotels that “After the Suez War of 1956, this hotel was used almost exclusively by UN troops until their withdrawal after 1973. The hotel was demolished around 1980.” That is the sum total of my knowledge as far as the hotel goes. I also have these two photos, below, the second of which is taken on the hotel roof and shows Aboulela Bridge and Zamalek in the background. If anybody has any memories of this building, please get in touch.
Meanwhile, Hussein directed me to one of his favorite movies, a little known drama from 1964 directed by Youssef Chahine called Fagr Yom Gedid (Dawn of a New Day). It features plenty of beautifully shot footage of Cairo, including a brilliant and dizzying sequence on the stairs of the recently completed Cairo Tower. Towards the end of the movie, there is some aerial footage of the Aboulela bridge and you can briefly spot the original Gezira Palace in a decrepit state, half covered with scaffolding., before the camera sweeps down the Corniche at Maspero and past the fake Gezira Palace Hotel and the empty lot where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would later be built.
4 Responses to The other Gezira Palace Hotel
Great titbit! Will try and find film. Gill
Al-Jazirah Palace Hotel was located in the second block of the corner of the Corniche at its intersection with the 26th of July in Bulaq, and the two blocks are separated by a small street as in the picture. It was a modest white building, perhaps four floors, and it was demolished in the early sixties with the beginning of the demolition of the Muwafaq neighborhood that was behind it until Abu Ala Mosque, and it used to receive tourist groups, and it did not receive any of the international forces
Hello Andrew I’m not sure this is the way I’m supposed to contact you but I can’t find any other. I was in Cairo for a few days courtesy of Thomas Cook early in 1990. They were offering very short breaks with a flight from Heathrow and it was a terrific deal. In the time I had went to the camel market. I galloped a horse out to the pyramids. I wondered which hotel I stayed in. Also, whether the disastrous hotel fire that lurks in my memory — a number of fashion models were killed — happened before or after that date.
All best wishes and thank you for your site. Most alluring and informative.
The fire you mention would be at the Heliopolis Sheraton on 1 March 1990.