As Cairo’s oldest ‘new’ area, Nasr City is located east of Downtown Cairo.
Originally conceived as a suburban area of Cairo, it has become more and more populated since its creation in the 1950’s when it was part of the then President Nasser’s expansion of Cairo into an area that was referred to as the Abassiya Desert.
Covering 250 km2, Nasr City is not only one of the biggest areas in Cairo, but is also one of the most modern and distinctive in terms of design.
The wide parallel roads and intersections are unlike the small winding streets and squares of most of Cairo. The name ‘Nasr’, though holding obvious resemblance to Nasser’s name coincidentally or otherwise, translates into victory.
It’s much debated whether Nasser had imparted his name on the city before it was come to be known as Nasr City, but some the area’s long-time residents still refer to it as Nasser City.
The parallel roads and subsequent u-turns condemn Nasr City to bouts of gridlocked traffic throughout the day.
Particular traffic hotspots include the numerous bus and microbus stations as well as the ends of the major streets.
The Autostrad and Nasr Road are the two main gateways that cover the area, getting you to anywhere and everywhere; including notable roads such as Abbas El Akkad, Makram Ebeid, Ahmed Fakhry, Hassan El Mamoun and El Tayaran Street.
The area is divided into ten sub-districts, of which the first five are named and the second five are numbered 6 to 10.
Despite falling outside the reach of the metro, public transport can get you between Nasr City and almost anywhere in Cairo, with the Rabea Adaweya Mosque being a convenient spot to catch a microbus or bus, as well as the top of Abbas El Akkad and Makram Ebeid streets.
The easiest way to get around in your car is to steer clear of central Nasr City and take advantage of the much more vacant streets on the outskirts of the area.
Another way is to take advantage of the tram, which runs along Mustafa El Nahas Street - a road that connects Nasr City with neighbouring Heliopolis.
Overall though, Nasr City is overrun with microbuses for better and for worse. While they are probably the main perpetrators of the traffic, they also provide a cheap and easy mean of transport to every corner of the area.
Leisure pursuits in Nasr City cater to all, and all revolve in one way or another around Abbas El Akkad and Makram Ebeid streets.
Many of the Nasr City’s most famous and popular restaurants are located in and around the area of these two streets, as well as a huge array of shops that cover everything from clothing to electronics.
This is no surprise with Nasr City’s shopping culture, with no less than six substantial shopping malls taking residence in the area, including Genena Mall, Tiba Mall, El Akkad Mall, El Serag City Mall and Mercato, as well as Heliopolis’s Citystars which straddles the borders of both areas.
Most of said malls feature cinemas and Genena Mall even boasts an ice skating rink.
Sitting just off of Abbas El Akkad Street is International Park; a spot that in the early nineties attracted people from all around Cairo for a quintessentially suburban-Cairo day out. Located right by it is Wonderland; a recreational area that offers a cinema, a fairground and a host of restaurants and cafes.
Nasr City is also home to several significant landmarks and facilities, including Cairo International Stadium on Salah Salem Road.
Seating almost 75,000 people, the multi-use Olympic standard stadium is the fourth largest in Africa and second largest in the Middle East.
The stadium, which underwent major renovations in 2006, hosts the Egyptian national football team’s home games as well as that of Cairo rival Al Ahly and Zamalek.
Other notable landmarks and facilities include the Cairo International Conference Center, Nasr City Fairgrounds and the Unknown Soldier Memorial monument.
The area is also home to several government establishments and headquarters such as the Egyptian State Information Service building, as well as the buildings of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Investment.
More importantly, Al Azhar University – considered the oldest university in Egypt – is based in Nasr City. Hotel wise, very few international chains populate Nasr City, with Sonesta Hotel Tower & Casino on Al Tayaran Street being the most prominent and inclusive hotel in the area.
One thing that Nasr City falls down on is the cultural events, with one particular exception in the form of the annual Cairo International Book Fair. Nightlife suffers similarly, with bars exclusively located in the hotels; a small blemish on an otherwise unique area of Cairo.