'Italian Architects Creations in Egypt' photo exhibition opens at Al-Hanager Art Centre

Amira Noshokaty , Tuesday 27 Apr 2021

At the premises of the Cairo Opera House, the walls were adorned with marvellous architectural gems

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Giampaolo Cantini, the ambassador of Italy to Egypt (R) and Mohamed Abu Seada, the chairman of NOUH (L)

Monday night marked the inauguration of the photo exhibition titled ‘The Italian Architects’ Creations in Egypt’, which is running from 26 to 28 April 202 at Al-Hanager Art Centre on the Cairo Opera grounds.

The walls at the premises of Al-Hanager Art Centre were adorned with marvellous architectural gems. Images of palaces, buildings, churches, and mosques greeted the eye, as they stood the test of time and maintained their grandeur throughout the centuries.  

Organized by the National Organisation for Urban Harmony (NOUH), a part of the Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Cairo. 

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“This is the first of a series of photo exhibitions by which we aim to spot the impact of European Architecture on Urban Egypt. We started off with Italian Architecture, and the next exhibition will highlight French Architecture in Urban Egypt,” explained Mohamed Abu Seada, Chairman of NOUH to Ahram Online.

The captivating photos reveal the details of architectural gems that started to flourish in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said since the beginning of the 19th century.

As the book produced by NOUH bearing the same title reads: “With the immigration of Italian Architects and artists to Egypt in the beginning of the 19th century till the middle of the 20th century, they affected and were affected by Egyptian society; with their creativity, they formed the urban architecture of modern Egypt… In European Renaissance, for instance, the splendid Montaza Palace in Alexandria and Villa Dilbergolue, which bear a resemblance to the Roman castle of Antonio Lascia… The baroque style is reflected in the building of Al-Ahram newspaper in Alexandria, which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century into neo-baroque and was manifested in timeless architectural imprints such as the Khedivial buildings of Emad El-Din street (Cairo).”

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The exhibition also bore a photo collage mural of the three leading Italian architects who helped build the most beautiful buildings in Egypt: Antonio Lasciac, Mario Rossi, and Ernesto Verrucci, along with their mini biographies.

“This is an exhibition about some of the greatest Italian architects that worked in Egypt, and they made a big contribution to the development of some areas in Alexandria, including the cornish, El-Raml, and other neighbourhoods, as well as one of the amazing buildings in Egypt: The Montaza palace.”

“In Cairo, the most outstanding buildings in downtown, which still stand to this day, are the work of Antonio Lasciac. They were very eclectic, I mean, they came with their original culture and brought the style of classic Italian architecture: the gothic and renaissance styles. They blended with sources of inspiration of the oriental style in Egyptian tradition, and they worked closely with the khedives, Egyptian architects, and landowners.”

“They had a vision and the capacity to absorb the local culture and taste; the very fact that Verrucci was called ‘Verrucci Beih’ was very significant,” Giampaolo Cantini, the ambassador of Italy to Egypt, told Ahram Online

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“It took us two months to prepare for this exhibition,” explained Heidi Shalaby, general director of the Preservation of Areas and Historical Buildings Department.

“We referred to the library of the Egyptian Geographic Society and the Italian Cultural Institute, who managed to connect with Italian citizens living in Italy, and provided rare photos. As for the coloured photos, we got them from our own 5 years of archive of Turathi photo competition,” she concluded.

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