Cairo is a hub of statued women and hundred-year-old lamps. The thing is, they're hidden in nooks and crannies you might pass by and not think twice to look at. We sent Sanabel al-Najjar on a hunt to find them.
There is a section in our minds always bursting with colour and all that moves liked a blurred carousel. It is where nostalgia, love, and melancholy are born. And sometimes, despite all that we unintentionally do to quieten and even kill it, like turning into workaholics or forgetting that the phones are not biological parts of our bodies, that little section, when provoked, will burst into an overwhelming form of life. It might be a certain perfume, the natural music made by a wind chime hidden in a leafy alley, or someone’s facial features; often, it's a hidden treasure, perhaps of a statue staring at us with lively stoned eyes or a painting staring straight through our souls.
Walking in the streets of Cairo, I was shocked at the beauty, abundance, and negligence of some of the most beautiful antique pieces I have set eyes on. I feel it is only fair (and wicked exciting) that I should share seven of the most stunning antique shops I have come across in Cairo.
Stepping into this antique shop will immediately shift the tiles from under your feet, carrying you to a myriad of castles and mansions, some of which are charmed and distant like a surreal dream. With its glorious collection of chandeliers and mirrors, daydreaming about Victorian literature becomes an experience over which you have no control; something pleasantly forced onto your mind.
Address: 16 Hoda Shaarawi Street.
Mahrous al ‘Assaal
For those among us who have a strange fascination with the concept of statues and them looking like they’re stuck in perennial motion, and the way they appear as if staring into the other direction to evade our looks, then this is the place to be. Hours can be spent just studying all little and human-sized statued women and pondering lovers, like an army of a spelled people from another time.
Address: 21 Hoda Shaarawi Street
Gallery al Sharq
A lazy breeze of unidentified memory brushes your face as your enter Gallery el Sharq, crowded with a hundred pieced of arresting art. Whether it’s the paintings of beautiful melancholic women looking away, statues of a little boy hunting in the woods, or lamps with Greek gods engraved, the gallery provides your eyes and smiling self with all that could possibly be asked for in material art.
Address: Hoda Shaarawi St.
With modern antique-looking furniture, Gallery Koshk houses various antiques from different countries, such as Indian art as well as wooden carved masterpieces. Vintage-looking modern couches and old lamps always looks like a good combination.
Address: 3 El Sayyed El Bakri Street
Amber House The vintage lamps and lanterns dangling from the shades of the traditionally ornamented little kiosks shining on the sparkly belly dance dresses hung in abundance across Khan El Khalili's many alleys is only one of the sights at Amber House. The brass statues, tribal necklaces, and silver jewellery expose the beauty of this old area without reservation.
Address: Khan El Khalili
European art has never looked as beautiful as it does in Gallery Mousa, the home of many clocks and chandeliers in which angel statues and beautiful – mostly lost – women are carved. Old European paintings decorating the walls of the 60-year-old shop only add to the splendour that strikes the moment you enter past the gallery’s vintage gate.
Address: Sayed Barki Street, facing El Madares El Qawmeya.
Anitquat El Sayyed Megahed
A tiny little antique kiosk buried in the street of Zamalek, Antiquat El Sayyed Mogahed’s collection of old phones and old books, dusty in their display outside, provide a peek into older times in Egypt seen in the movie posters and the age of books. Obviously, if you’re a bookworm, then this little antique shop is ideal for the next time you long for leafing through old strange-smelling books.
Address: 8 Mahmoud Azmy Street
Antique heaven Nouby Antiques looks like the heart of a haunted Victorian castle with all the human-sized statues, little painted boxes, dangling chandeliers, and floral-carved mirrors granting the place even more enchantment. Getting lost among vintage antiques is never a bad idea, especially if you wandering souls are seeking inspiration for a (mystery) novel.
Address: 157, 26 July Street, Zamalek.
Though it is not surprising to see that Cairo’s historic streets are home to shops with antique pieces that are older than our great grandparents, it is actually a shame that few people visit these places or even know of them.