Tahrir Square in Cairo has been the scene of several political unrest and upheavals, gaining worldwide fame most notably through the 2011 Egyptian revolution, when the Egyptian president was ousted by the people.
Tahrir Square (Liberation Square) forms the center of the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Tahrir Square was originally called "Midan al-Ismailiyya", after the viceroy of the time, Ismail Pasha. In the 19th century, the latter wanted to model Cairo's architecture on major European cities. He tried to create a "Paris on the Nile" with extensive boulevards, sprawling squares and spacious waterfront promenades.
The square was named Freedom in 1952, when the last British occupation troops left after the two world wars, the ruling royal family was overthrown in a military coup by the Egyptian army, and the Republic of Egypt was proclaimed.
Besides the historical significance of Tahrir Square, the sprawling square is primarily a good starting point for sight-seeing tours of Cairo and is therefore also on our list of the top 10 sights of Egypt.
Buildings on Tahrir Square
Several important buildings of the capital of Egypt are grouped around the green traffic island with the five-lane traffic circle. These include:
- state administrative buildings, such as the presidential palace and the parliament building
- the hotel "The Nile Hilton
- the Egyptian National Museum
- the American University of Cairo
- the headquarters of the Arab League
In the northeast of the square is a monument to Omar Makram, who led the resistance struggles against Napoleon's occupation. The headquarters of the National Democratic Party of Egypt, whose chairman was former President Husni Mubarak, is also located in Tahrir Square. It was severely damaged by fire during the revolution in early 2011. How it happened....
Arab Spring 2011
Since the founding of the Republic of Egypt, Tahrir Square has repeatedly been the scene of political unrest, rallies and demonstrations. For example, the violent "bread riots" in 1977 or the protests against the Iraq war in 1991 and 2003
However, Tahrir Square gained worldwide fame primarily through the revolution in the Arab Spring at the beginning of 2011. After January 25, 2011 was proclaimed the "Day of Rage," some 15,000 people demonstrated for the first time in Tahrir Square against the regime of then President Husni Mubarak. They demanded more freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. And, last but not least, the resignation of Mubarak.
In the following days, the number of demonstrators increased, Tahrir Square turned into a tent city, and the initially peaceful demonstrations slowly began to escalate. Hours of bloody street fighting between police and regime opponents were the result. On Feb. 1, President Mubarak announced his resignation, but he did not leave Cairo until 10 days later, causing a festival-like exuberance in the streets of the capital.
Tahrir Square thus became a symbol of the Egyptian revolution, and at the end of 2011 the governor of Cairo announced a design competition for Liberation Square. However, the spirit of optimism quickly faded, and instead of being redeveloped, Tahrir Square once again became a kind of restricted military area in 2013, where the new state regime immediately nipped any flicker of freedom or democracy in the bud.