Cairo since 1900

An Architectural Guide

Mohamed Elshahed
Foreword byMercedes Volait

The city of a thousand minarets is also the city of eclectic modern constructions, turn-of-the-century revivalism and romanticism, concrete expression

English edition
15 December 2019
410 pp.
330 b/w illus.
ISBN 9789774168697
For sale worldwide


The city of a thousand minarets is also the city of eclectic modern constructions, turn-of-the-century revivalism and romanticism, concrete expressionism, and modernist design. Yet while much has been published on Cairo’s ancient, medieval, and early-modern architectural heritage, the city’s modern architecture has to date not received the attention it deserves. Cairo since 1900: An Architectural Guide is the first comprehensive architectural guide to the constructions that have shaped and continue to shape the Egyptian capital since the early twentieth century.
From the sleek apartment tower for Inji Zada in Ghamra designed by Antoine Selim Nahas in 1937, to the city’s many examples of experimental church architecture, and visible landmarks such as the Mugamma and Arab League buildings, Cairo is home to a rich store of modernist building styles. Arranged by geographical area, the guide includes entries for more than 220 buildings and sites of note, each entry consisting of concise, explanatory text describing the building and its significance accompanied by photographs, drawings, and maps. This pocket-sized volume is an ideal companion for the city’s visitors and residents as well as an invaluable resource for scholars and students of Cairo’s architecture and urban history.


To read an excerpt, click here.

For the Table of Contents, click here.


Cairo since 1900 wins Egypt’s State Incentive Award >> Read more
Shortlisted for the 2021 Peter Mackenzie Smith Book Prize >> Read more
Five Books Best Art Book of 2020


Praise about the book:

“Mohamed Elshahed gathers and presents source material for critical debate about Cairo’s modern legacy. . .[and] aims to survey an overlooked body of work and to reveal its social and political foundations.” ⁠—Gideon Fink Shapiro, The Architect’s Newspaper

“Cairo since 1900: An Architectural Guide not only fills an immense gap in the architectural history of the region, but also makes a much-needed intervention into the history of global modernism. The urban fabric of this cosmopolitan and vibrant city is described in rich detail, with information on the architects as well as the patrons who gave shape to it. It will serve as an essential guide to understanding, visiting, and studying modern Cairo.”—Kishwar Rizvi, Yale University

“The Egyptian capital, for too many visitors, is a bewildering urban fabric to be traversed in search of antiquity, circumnavigated to reach the pyramids of Giza, or bisected rapidly to reach historic mosques. Yet to the trained eye sprawling Cairo’s modern fabric spells out the fascinating history of twentieth-century Egypt. Scholarly and user-friendly at the same time, this indispensable guide is a veritable Rosetta stone for decoding the various languages in which the quest for modernization and identity was expressed in concrete, steel, brick, and stone.”—Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University

“The abundant architectural production which has dotted Cairo since the early twentieth century with dozens of remarkable structures has never been thoroughly documented. This guide is a revelation and will help, thanks to its clarity and precision, both locals and visitors to discover the astonishing buildings which have crystallized the modernization of Egypt’s capital.”—Jean-Louis Cohen, New York University Institute of Fine Arts

“Cairo since 1900 is a timely addition to our appreciation of Cairo’s urban fabric. With meticulous research and beautiful photographs, Elshahed offers us a unique survey of the city’s modernist architectural gems.”—Khaled Fahmy, University of Cambridge

“Architectural historian and publisher Mohamed Elshahed is safeguarding the architectural history of Cairo – and the rest of Egypt.”—Rima Alsammarae, Architectural Digest (Middle East)

“[A] call to arms, a rallying cry to take another look at the everyday fabric of this richly layered city.”—The Guardian

“Everything from bridges to gardens, from iconic buildings to unknown residential buildings with a story to be told.”—Shaimaa S. Ashour, Maydan

“It not only documents the past but also the future. . . to remind us of where Cairo is and where it is heading.”—N.A. Mansour, ArabLit

“Extraordinary and unreservedly recommended”—Midwest Book Review

“Elshahed has performed a sterling service in putting together his guidebook, which anyone interested in Cairo’s modern architecture will immediately want to have.”—David Tresilian, Al-Ahram Weekly

“[A] handsome illustrated guide. . . for the housebound archi-tourist (and that’s most of us right now), it’s the next best thing to a ticket to Cairo International Airport.”—Azure (Canada)

“For those seeking architectural armchair travel experiences, I would heartily recommend Cairo Since 1900”—Romas Viesulas, Five Books

“Cairo’s modernism—as described by Elshahed—isn’t defined by any particular philosophy, whether local or foreign. Instead, its hallmark is an eclectic hybridity.”—Marcia Lynx Qualey,

“[T]he book is beautifully designed, as elegant and functional as many of the buildings it documents. It is a small, compact, softcover volume that can be carried along as one explores the city.”—Ursula Lindsey, Al-Fanar Media

“Elshahed counteracts the city’s selective amnesia by cataloging the legacy of groundbreaking professionals who shaped the cityscape mainly from the 1920s onward.”— AramcoWorld

”Must-read”— L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui 

Mohamed Elshahed

Mohamed Elshahed is a researcher, curator, and specialist on architecture, design, and material culture in Egypt. He holds a PhD from New York University and an MA from MIT. He is the curator of the Modern Egypt Project at the British Museum and founder of