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Alexandria’s Al-Montaza: An Escape into Egypt’s Royal Past

May 24, 2022

Coasting the sea, the Montaza Palaces rip into the sky; the wind is unshackled, swells of greenery pad the estate, and the 19th century etches itself into the mind’s eye. Peaceful and loosely integrated into the colorful, time-tried Alexandria, island palms lend completion to the coast. For the modern Egyptian, Al-Montaza is an escape into the past. For decades the area has been a hub of hospitality and summery, foam-tipped beaches. Located on the north coast, just shy of the north-eastern edge of Alexandria, Al-Montaza is a district of varying sites umbrellaed under one identity. From lost, underwater metropolises to Royal Gardens, the district has evolved into the most well-known and well-loved in Alexandria. Though it all started at the heart, with a vast and impressive royal complex. The Montaza Complex was first envisioned, and later brought to life, by Khedive Abbas Helmy II, the final Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. Seeing that small, idyllic island enamored him; he coveted a summer residence—removed from the stern, unforgiving politics of Cairo. Romantically, he would dub it a montaza: a serene, elaborate garden. Under the close advisership of Mahmoud Shokry Pasha, the…

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