In the heart of Historic Cairo, a new art space with an exceptional view of the surrounding Islamic architecture, Marsam Al-Qalaa (Castle Altier), opened its doors a few days ago.
The atelier is unique because of its location. From the seventh floor of an old building on a hill in the El-Khalifa neighborhood close to the square of the Salaheddine Al-Ayoubi Citadel (southern Cairo), the atelier offers visitors a panoramic view of the heritage buildings and monuments that surround it.
Some of these sites include the Sultan Hassan Mosque-Madrassa, Al-Rifai Mosque, Mosque of Qani-Bay al-Rammah and others, as well as the House of Egyptian Architecture and the Mostafa Kamel Museum.
The studio is home to a spacious hall and three others of various sizes: the Sultan, the Castle, and the Archives. It is furnished with simple items that mirror the neighborhood’s Islamic heritage. It also includes an 18-meter-long balcony where visitors can marvel at the breathtaking view.
Principal of the Al-Qalam School of Art for Arabic Calligraphy and Ornamentation, Mohamed Wahdan, founded the atelier.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “We have always had the idea of providing a safe and spacious haven for creatives and making it available to those interested in working in an alternative environment.”
Regarding long-term objectives, he said he was seeking to reinvigorate the surrounding area, which had always been known as the “Montmartre of the Citadel” area.
He added that he wants to work with travel and tourism agencies to make the atelier part of Historic Cairo packages.
“The studio is an independent cultural center affiliated with the Al-Qalam Foundation. It is a non-profit that offers services. We will collaborate with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in light of the state’s movement towards developing and enhancing cultural tourism in the surrounding area. And we have already drafted protocols for this cooperation,” he explained.
Inside, visitors can meet cultural and artistic titans during the events and activities it organizes. Issam Safi El-Din, founder of the Egyptian Architectural House, is among them.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “despite the difficulty of going up to the seventh floor - I am on the verge of turning 80 - I was determined to visit the studio because it brings something new to the Egyptian scene, and I expect that it will have developmental and social benefits.”