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.