Gabalaya street, Island Zamalek, in the Nile river, Cairo.
All year Mon, Wed-Sun 9-17.
Adults EGP 20.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Address:||Aquarium Grotto Garden, El Gabalaya St, Al Gabalayah, Zamalek, Cairo Governorate, Tel: +20-111-316-7782.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1867||created by Khedawy Ismail.|
|1902||opened to the public under the supervision of the central administration of zoos.|
حديقة الأسماك بالزمالك (hadiqat al'asmak bialzamalik, Zamalek Fish Park) or Aquarium Grotto Park is located in a park on the El Zamalek island, in the Nile river, in the middle of Cairo. This park was in the mid 19th century the garden of Khedawy Ismail, who decided in 1867 to build an aquarium. سماعيل باشا (Ismā‘īl Bāshā, Isma'il Pash), also known as Ismail the Magnificent (*1830-✝1895) was the Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt. It was private and accessible only to him and his guests, aristocracy and other mighty people of the time.
The park was intended as a park similar to Italian parks with grottoes and secluded spots. An Italian engineer was responsible for the grottoes, and he built artificial cave passages from real limestone blocks. Some were decorated with sculptures, others have stalactites like natural cave. Even the trails are framed by rows of limestone blocks. We are not sure why, but those blocks look strange, less like massive limestone and more like weathered adobe, dried clay. The numerous organic building are like an early film setting for Lord of the Rings, and are almost in their original state. Just for this architecture the site is worth a visit.
The garden was later nationalized and in 1902 it was opened to the public. As it was an aquarium, it was under the supervision of the Central Administration of Zoos. Later it became a public park, and the aquarium was neglected and finally most of the water pools became defunct. In the mid 20th century it was a popular location for the booming Egyptian movie industry. It was the place where most love scenes were filmed. Today, couples go to the cinema and afterwards come here to make out, without being supervised by their parents.
On the sides, there are two fins covering four garden corridors.
As for the inside, it consists of corridors or cavities resembling coral reefs located in the sea.
If you look at the ceiling of one of the corridors, you will find that it has cavities which are designed to create sounds of waves when the air passes through them.
The park has caves and corridors for visitors to walk through. It also includes 49 aquariums for thousands of rare fish, such as indigo and marine fish and ornamental fish. It also has a panorama to display stuffed fish, and there are other sections that include types of turtles and marine reptiles and more, and at the entrance of the garden there is a large aquarium with predatory fish, such as sharks, pigfish and others…
Famous Parks and Gardens in Cairo
The current state is weird, so weird it was listed for its desolate state on Atlas Obscura. Even the benches in the park are considered unsuitable for sitting. The park is still popular among the locals and more or less maintained, it is used for festivals, parties, and is kept clean. But the artificial caves are quite rundown. Once they were used as aquariums with numerous displays of fish and other sea life. But the aquariums and their glas fronts were removed, and the fish and other sea life can be seen in bottles with formaldehyde on shelves. Today it's more like a rundown nature history museum.