Heliopolis is situated seven kilometres northeast of central Cairo and runs parallel to the airport road. The area dates back to 1906 when a satellite city of neo-Moorish villas and apartments was constructed on the site of the ancient town of the same name. Today, the area has been swallowed up by Cairo proper, and the British colonialists have been replaced by President Mubarak, government ministers and Egypt’s upper class. Most of the old villas have been knocked down to make way for concrete apartment blocks festooned with satellite dishes, but some of the old charm remains. The Heliopolis club has sports facilities and a swimming pool at a fraction of the price of Zamalek’s Gezeira club. The Merryland entertainment park and the fantastical Baron’s Palace (the home of Baron Edouard Empain who originally developed the area, modelled on a Hindu temple) are the other major landmarks. The area boasts some good international schools, restaurants and bars, as well as a rather brutal-looking shopping mall. Public transport includes a rather run-down tramline, the ubiquitous micro-buses and taxis, and the international airport for quick getaways, but no metro station. Average rent for a two-bedroom furnished apartment: 2,000 LE.
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