Midan Talaat Harb


Downtown’s two main streets, Sharia Talaat Harb and Sharia Qasr El Nil, intersect at the roundabout of Midan Talaat Harb, where cars whizz around a statue of tarboosh-sporting Mr Harb, founder of the national bank.

On the square is Groppi’s. In its heyday this was one of the most celebrated patisseries this side of the Mediterranean. Gold mosaics around the doorway are, alas, the only remaining glitter and the entire place was closed for restoration in 2016 due to water damage on its ceiling.

Just south of the square on Sharia Talaat Harb, Café Riche, established in 1908, was once the main hang-out for Egyptian writers and intellectuals. Nasser allegedly met with his collaborators here while planning the 1952 Revolution. Today things have gone downhill somewhat, though it's still a good spot to grab a beer.

North of the square, shops along Sharia Qasr El Nil sell the equivalent of a drag queen’s dream of footwear. The street itself boasts some particularly fine architecture, notably the moorish Italian Insurance building, the neo classical facade of the Cairo Stock Exchange and the defunct and being-renovated building that was once the Cosmopolitan Hotel, a short block off Qasr El Nil in a palm-tree-lined pedestrianised alley.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cairo attractions

1. Groppi’s

0.02 MILES

Groppi’s high point was more than 50 years ago when it was one of the most celebrated patisseries this side of the Mediterranean. It has unfortunately…

2. Cairo Atelier

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Off Sharia Mahmoud Bassiouni, as much a clubhouse as an exhibition space, frequented by Cairo’s art-world new and old guard.

3. Townhouse Gallery

0.11 MILES

Set amid car-repair shops, Townhouse is Cairo’s most cutting-edge space, with a regular program of temporary exhibitions, often with an emphasis on video…

4. Cairo Stock Exchange

0.17 MILES

The rather grand facade of the Cairo Stock Exchange was built in 1928 and merges neoclassical design with art nouveau.

5. Italian Insurance Building

0.17 MILES

With its beautifully restored Moorish-style facade, this building which once housed an Italian insurance company, is one of Qasr El Nil's most notable…

6. Mashrabia Gallery

0.17 MILES

One of the first indepen­dent galleries, Mashrabia is bit cramped but represents the bigger names in painting, video and sculpture.

7. Contemporary Image Collective

0.26 MILES

This art initiative often hosts excellent temporary art and photography exhibitions; check the website to see if anything is showing while you're in town…

8. Midan Tahrir

0.27 MILES

Midan Tahrir (Liberation Sq) gained world renown in early 2011, when millions of Egyptians converged here to oust then-president Hosni Mubarak. On a…