Arts & Culture

Roushdy Building: The Paranormal Property That Disturbed Egyptians for Decades

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Roushdy Building: The Paranormal Property That Disturbed Egyptians for Decades

Image Credit: Egyptian Streets

Egypt has long been the setting for horror stories, from ancient Egyptian ghost folklore to a haunted hospital in Helwan. Still, one building stands out: the Roushdy Building, Alexandria’s first house of horror.

The 61-year-old, 11-storey apartment building was not named Roushdy Building – that name was given to it based on the district it was built in. It officially goes by ‘Building 412’. To Alexandrians, it is controversially known as the ‘ghost house’.

Other, less horror-inclined residents viewed it as an unfinished, decrepit building, demanding its demolition after losing hope in it ever being finished. These demands came to an end when the building was completed in 2021, following multiple rounds of renovations over the past decades.

Still, the Roushdy Building’s legacy leaves behind multiple question marks, from its half-a-century unfinished state to its vague-yet-bone-chilling history.

“[The building] is a mystery to us Alexandrians, I would never step inside it” explained actress and born-and-raised Alexandrian actress Yasmine Sabri during a television interview – a telltale sign of the cultural significance it leaves behind on society to this day.

A TALE OF TERROR OR TRICKERY?

The apartment complex first began construction in 1961, a housing project kickstarted by businessman and original owner, Adel Shawky. But the project never materialized, collecting dust and horror myths over the years. The myths vary, but all accounts of its origin are equally terrifying.

Some claim a mosque had stood over the land first and that its demolition unleashed a curse on the building. In Islamic culture, jinn, unseen spirits that could possess or harm humans, are often believed to lurk in cursed locations. Certain inhabitants of the district believed a jinn roamed the building, causing terror to anyone who stepped foot inside it.

Another popular Roushdy Building legend claims that its haunting origin was caused by the bloody and fatal accident of a construction worker. The tragic and gruesome death halted construction for a period of time – time enough for the worker’s ghost to haunt his final project.

Over time, neighboring residents built on the deserted building’s frightening rumors. Certain Alexandrians claimed that those who attempted to dwell in its quarters saw blood coming out of sinks, whereas nearby neighbors claimed they overheard unnerving shrieks from the building in the dead of night.

While the Roushdy Building’s paranormal origin may differ from one account to another, there are parallels drawn on the idea that it is filled with inexplicably haunting spirits.

With time, the abandoned house’s horror story grew old and irritating to nearby residents, who preferred to see the building come to good use. In 2012, with the youthful and rebellious spirit of the 2011 Revolution still surging among citizens, a group of young men publicly climbed the restricted building to confirm the spooky tales for themselves.

“I’ll be honest, the place from inside is scary. It’s dark and eerie, but there were no signs of ghosts or haunted spirits,” shares Mahmoud Dakroury, one of the Egyptians who climbed the building in 2012.

All that was found inside was dust, unfinished signs of construction, broken beer bottles left by people who had snuck in, and wooden beams on the floor.

Amr Habib, the current owner and renovator of the Roushdy Building, claims that the horror rumors were sparked by Shawky after falling into debt: he had been unable to complete its construction.

“[Shawky] took a loan from one of the banks but accumulated debts and interests, eventually being unable to pay [back his loans],” said Habib in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“This is when he resorted to a cunning plot to launch horror myths about the property, about it being haunted, and preventing it from being mortgaged.”

Today, the once-forsaken building stands dazzlingly as one of the Roushdy district’s newest and most modern pieces of architecture. The ghosts, if any existed, are supposedly gone. But its iconic legacy remains, even within the building, as Habib left a piece of the old wall on the newly furbished ground floor – a classic horror movie sequel trope.

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With a deep interest in politics and society, Shereif is a journalist that chronicles Egypt’s ever-changing political climate – aided by his bachelor’s in Political Science and his ongoing master’s in Strategic Public Relations. On the side, Shereif works as a communications associate for a local consultancy. When he’s not working, you can find him playing chess, supporting Chelsea, or walking his dog.

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