The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture

Hassan Kamy’s Al Mostashreq Library – A Rare Gem in Downtown Cairo

arts & culture Downtown hidden gems history library Reading
Hassan Kamy’s Al Mostashreq Library – A Rare Gem in Downtown Cairo
written by
Malak Gharib
Image via Egyptian Streets 

The late artist Hassan Kamy was the previous owner of the impressive Al Mostashreq Library in Downtown Cairo. With a collection of books, some dating back over 500 years and other rare publications, the library has faced many ups and downs. Through the various shifts in ownership of the library, its mention in the Egyptian Parliament, to public accessibility being forbidden and granted over and over, Al Mostashreq is more than just a library. It’s a beacon of history and culture.

Image via Daily News Egypt 

From literary masterpieces to rare books, the Al Mostashreq library contains an estimated 40,000 books. The late singer and actor Hassan Kamy owned the library, and the story of the “Al Mostashreq Library” dates back to the end of the 19th century when it was established by a Swiss-Jewish resident of Egypt named Feldman. Feldman collected many historical books, heritage items, and essential manuscripts, including the Wasf Masr encyclopedia. He made sure to make the library a destination for researchers and Orientalists from European universities for a time, hence the name Al Mostashreq – The Orientalist. 

Image via Egyptian Streets

Ownership of the library passed to the Egyptian Charles Bahry after Feldman left Egypt following the tripartite aggression of 1956. Hassan Kamy frequented the Downtown Cairo library during the fifties and sixties, intensifying his passion for purchasing and borrowing books. However, the library owner then refused to sell or lend its books, inspiring Kamy to consider buying the library. After negotiations, Kamy managed to persuade the owner to sell the library, affirming that his life’s mission was to serve his country by safeguarding art and heritage, with his wife’s task being to care for the library and preserve its collections.

Kamy generously gifted the library and transferred its ownership to his wife Najwa, who was passionate about reading, culture, and historical books. After his wife’s passing at the end of 2012, ownership returned to him until his passing in 2018.

Currently, the library opens its doors daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, offering culture geeks access to its rich historical content and books. It serves as a beacon of knowledge and culture, warmly welcoming visitors who seek to explore its treasures and enrich their understanding of the world.