Originally it was named ‘Soliman Pasha Street’ after Suliman Pasha, Egypt’s French-born General under Muhammad Ali. In fact,the street was renamed in 1954 after Talaat Harb, the leading Egyptian economist of the early 1900s. The street has the ‘Talaat Harb Street’ name during a sweeping effort by Egypt’s new president. Gamal Abdel Nasser, to rid the city of all reminders of the Muhammad Ali dynasty and British occupation era.


Talaat Harb Street business district
Statue of Talaat Harb standing in Talaat Harb Square, downtown Cairo.
Statue of Talaat Harb, in Talaat Harb Square.Despite Nasser’s attempt to mask colonial Egypt’s history, done in the 1950s and 1960s. The structural design of the upper building facades on Talaat Harb Street is a reminder of a multi-colonial past. Various types of architecture representing different eras of Egyptian history are there on the floors above the new roughly redesigned yet inviting store facades on street level. Most of these buildings appear to be left over from the days of Khedive Ismail and his goal to create a new European inspired quarter in Cairo during the second half of the 19th century. He who stressed urban planning for the first time in Cairo, to include broad, linear gridded streets, open spaces and parks, geometric balance and harmony, and then modern European architectural styles.

Yet the once grand appearance of these buildings has been lost to the clinging dust, battered shutters and general lack of outward upkeep. Interspersed between these sad structures are their modern counterparts, which appear significantly more aged than the actual date of the structure would suggest due to their hasty and incomplete construction. Identical glossy storefronts strung together along the street level provide a degree of continuity and collectively sacrifice the history disappearing above them for an eager pursuit of western culture and commerce.

Café Riche.
The Egyptian Diplomatic Club at night.
The Egyptian Diplomatic Club on Talaat Harb Street
J.Groppi chocolatier building
J.Groppi chocolatier, shop and cafe facade


In fact it is the historic architecture lining Talaat Harb Street that reminds visitors of its stylistic and eventful past. Until its name change in 1954. This avenue was famous as ‘Soliman Pasha’ and was a center for social interaction among Cairo’s upper and European classes. Although a remnant of its former ‘Paris on the Nile’ 19th century grace. The Midan Talaat, or Talaat Square, at the street’s intersection with Qasr El Nile Street. Has buildings having the strong elegance of French neoclassical architecture from the Soliman Pasha era. And were once the locations of some of Cairo’s most popular and successful shops and services.