City of the Dead

The City of the Dead is sometimes referred to as the Cairo Necropolis and is an Islamic necropolis and cemetery, which is located below the Mokattam Hills, situated in south-eastern Cairo. The site is locally known as “el’arafa”, which is translated to “the cemetery”. The site is a 6.4km long grid of tomb and mausoleum structures, where some people continue to live and work amongst the dead. Some of the current residents choose to live there, to be closer to their ancestors, although mostly of more recent lineage.

There are some residents of the city who live there after they were forced out of central Cairo, due to ongoing urbanisation pressures stemming from demolitions carried out in the name of urban renewal, which was increased under the Gamal Abdel Nasser era from the 1950s and onward. Many residents migrated to the city from the countryside to find work outside of agriculture. The poorest residents live in the City of the Dead slum, as well as Manshiyat Naser, which unfortunately for the residents translates to “Garbage City”, owing to the number of recycling vendors in the city.

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