Cairo's City of the Dead – Cairo, Egypt - Atlas Obscura

Cairo's City of the Dead

In Egypt's expanding metro area, many of the neighbors are dead. 


Just outside of Cairo, this City of the Dead used to house only corpses dating back to the 7th century. Created as an Arabic cemetery during the conquest of Egypt, the necropolis has developed into one of Egypt’s worst slums where the dead and living coexist in morbid neighborliness.

20 million people live in Cairo’s metro area, making it one of the largest cities in the entire world. It also has a massive population living in abject poverty, which has forced many people into the City of the Dead. Stretching for four miles on the outskirts of Cairo, the row housing for the deceased has evolved into a deathly slum.

As people moved out of agricultural centers, or were displaced by natural disasters, they took up residences in old mausoleums, and around the tombs of the necropolis. In total, 500,000 people occupy the necropolis, filling the gaps around the final resting places of 7th century Egyptians. Although there are plans to relocate people out of the living cemetery, the population has grown so large that there is almost nowhere to move residents. Like so many other slums across the world, the City of the Dead is greatly populated by children, who must face fears and live in and around tombs, and make do with their morbid surroundings.

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