Between the Mausoleum of Shajarat al-Durr, the shrines of Al-Sayyidi Al-Ja‘fari, Al-Sayyida ‘Atika, Al-Sayyida Ruqayya, and the Ibn Tulun Mosque, lies the historic Al-Khalifa neighborhood: a neighborhood that combines historic monuments and Islamic architecture, with culture and a vibrant local community.
Out of strong belief in the importance of preserving national heritage at this hidden gem, Egyptian architectural historian, May El-Ibrashy, founded Athar Lina in 2012.
A conservation initiative, Athar Lina (The Monument is Ours) was launched to protect, promote, and develop the cultural heritage and historic monuments at Al-Khalifa neighborhood, and utilize it to support the local community.
“Al-Khalifa is a special neighborhood because it has heritage from several eras, with monuments from the Fatimid, the Mamluk, and the Ayyubid eras. It is like an extension or a continuation of Al-Muizz street,” says Ehsan Abushadi, Program Coordinator at Athar Lina.
Stretching from Ibn Tulun Mosque in the north to the Al-Sayyida Nafisa Shrine in the south, Al-Khalifa has a combination of historic and Islamic architecture, monuments, and heritage sites.
With a belief that conservation can be a vehicle for development, Athar Lina focuses on conservation and rehabilitation projects, cultural and social development efforts, participatory research, and urban interventions.
“To achieve our vision of understanding monuments as resources not burden, we work on the renovation of heritage sites, teaching heritage to different age groups among the local community, building educational and vocational schools for children and youth, and contributing to urban development,” says Heba Negm, also a Program Coordinator at the initiative.
Additionally, Athar Lina organizes tours and school field trips between fall and spring. The tours are either guided historic tours in collaboration with tour guide Maissa Mostafa, or short tours accompanied by artistic or cultural workshops.
To enhance the relationship of children with their local community at Al-Khalifa, Athar Lina launched multiple projects and activities specifically designed for children and young adults.
“We want children in the local community to believe that these monuments and heritage sites are theirs,” Negm tells Egyptian Streets. “We do this through heritage education, which aims to deepen the connection that the children have with the monuments in surrounding areas.”
Some of the initiative’s most prominent projects include the conservation of Al-Imam Al-Shafi’i Dome, the launch of a knowledge exchange and heritage awareness program for women, a groundwater research project, and a knowledge exchange program between craftspeople and designers from Al-Khalifa and outside it.
In 2022, Athar Lina celebrated their ten-year anniversary. With a set of projects and events lined up in the near future, Athar Lina hopes to become a key player in the Al-Khalifa neighborhood into the next decade.
Follow Athar Lina on Instagram to know more about their tours and upcoming projects and events.
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