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Heliopolis Residents Object to Bridge Construction Plans Above Basilica Cathedral

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Heliopolis Residents Object to Bridge Construction Plans Above Basilica Cathedral

The Heliopolis Basilica Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Recent plans to build a bridge in Heliopolis going above the Our Lady of Heliopolis Co-Cathedral (also known as the Basilica cathedral) have triggered petitions and upheaval from citizens of the area concerned about its historic value.

The Heliopolis Heritage Initiative Facebook page reported on the building of the bridge for the first time according to an engineer on site on December 27, 2020, protesting its disregard for the building’s historic significance.

Earlier this week, the page resumed its protesting against the building of the bridge with a post that received thousands of shares, reporting that the bridge is going to be 2 KM long, starting from Ismailia Square via Salah El Din, the Basilica, Ahram St., ending at the Heliopolis Sporting Club.

The initiative protested the bridge plans stating that there could be several other solutions and that the general appearance of the area would be heavily impacted by the bridge. They added that the construction in this area with old buildings is dangerous and could be cause for destruction.

خطة الكوبري الكارثي…

– الكوبري هيبقي حوالي ٢ كم
– هيطلع من ميدان الإسماعيلية مرورا بصلاح الدين لحد البازيليك و شارع…

Posted by ‎مبادرة تراث مصر الجديدة Heliopolis Heritage Initiative‎ on Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The post started a larger movement and a petition from the initiative with larger aims and solutions for Heliopolis including preventing random parking of microbuses in Salah al-Din Square and the Basilica Square, preventing and closing shops that occupy the sidewalks and cause crowds, and establishing underground garages in Salah El-Din Square.

Parliament Member representing constituents of Nasr City and Masr El-Gedeeda Amr El Sonbaty stated on Facebook that he had visited the bridge site and confirmed the plans to build it, stating that a modification has been made to construction plans to avoid the passage of the two branches of the bridge next to the church.

“The passage of the bridge in an archaeological area next to the Basilica Church represents a great cultural damage to the area, which the state has thankfully invested in to preserve it,” said El Sonbaty.

El Sonbaty stated that he submitted a formal request to the officials to meet and respond to the priority of building the bridge, and if it’s worth affecting an area of ​​great archaeological and historical status, and is awaiting a response.

As of Saturday evening, The Heliopolis Heritage Initiative announced that their members met with the engineer committee responsible for the bridge, and were told that the project is now being re-examined to present alternatives. In addition, they were told that “only what is in the public interest will be executed”.

The Heliopolis community has been responding to the issue for the past week with outrage against the plans to build the bridge, with many Facebook posts and a large number of signatures to the initiative’s petition.

I woke up to this disaster this morning ! It is ridiculous to ruin the nicest and most famous part of Heliopolis! Not a…

Posted by Sarah Ebeid on Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Dear UNESCO,

I am writing to you this post because Egypt is facing a huge destruction of its own heritage and identity….

Posted by Alia Gharara on Saturday, February 6, 2021

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@noranmorsi

Arts & Culture Reporter. Writer and multidisciplinary artist with a passion for podcasting and theatre. Pre-pandemic, can be spotted getting work done from a Cairo coffee shop, train in Delhi or a New York subway. Intra-pandemic, works at a sunny window with lots of iced coffee.

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