Egypt

Living with the Dead

In the overpopulated metropolis of Cairo the poor create their houses even in cemeteries

Founded in the 7th century A.D, the city of the Dead is the oldest, still functioning cemetery in the world. Today, as a result of the housing crisis and the famines of the past decades, over 500.000 people made their home here among the funerary shrines and in the small rooms built to host pilgrims and the mausoleums’ guardians.
Cemeteries have always been the balancing area between life and death and here this relationship is preserved and becomes unique and peculiar. The city of the dead has no slums, no crowded houses and plenty of water and electricity everywhere. Yet, the metropolis of Cairo and the local authorities act ambiguously towards the inhabitants of this area.
Living in a graveyard is culturally seen as taboo and the cemetery is regarded as the most degraded border of the city, a dangerous place, the awkward shadow of the city which needs to be hidden and eventually washed away: that’s why an “ecological project” would like to replace the cemetery with a huge city park. But behind all that there’s just a greedy speculative plan.

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