Historic cities

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Historic cities

The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP) has been involved in urban regeneration projects in nine quite different settings in the Islamic world: Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Egypt, India, Mali, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Zanzibar, including nearly twenty distinct but interconnected projects that often are mutually reinforcing.

The AKDN conducts urban and rural regeneration projects that include the restoration of historic structures, the creation and rehabilitation of public spaces, parks and gardens and support for community-based planning and upgrading projects.  Individual project briefs go beyond mere technical restoration to address the questions of the social and environmental context, adaptive re-use, institutional sustainability and training.

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In Cairo, for example, the creation of the 30-hectare (74-acre) Al-Azhar Park in a city that has very little green space attracts nearly two million visitors a year.  The  US$ 30 million Park – a gift from His Highness the Aga Khan to the city of Cairo -- not only generates enough funds for its own maintenance (through gate and restaurant receipts), but has proven to be a powerful catalyst for urban renewal in the neighbouring district of Darb al-Ahmar -- once one of the poorest districts in the city. In Delhi, the Humayun’s Tomb - Sunder Nursery - Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project combines a cultural heritage project with socioeconomic initiatives. Located in heart of New Delhi, the Nizamuddin heritage precinct comprises the areas of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, Sunder Nursery and the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb.  The overall objective of the project is to improve the quality of life for people in the area while creating an important new green space for the people of Delhi and beyond. In Afghanistan, a range of conservation efforts, living condition improvements, community development programmes and planning initiatives have been implemented in several neighbourhoods of the war-damaged old city of Kabul, notably the restoration of Babur's Gardens, the Mausoleum of Timur Shah and urban regeneration projects in the Asheqan wa Arefan neighbourhood.  A number of other projects in Kabul, Heart and Balkh have also been undertaken. From Afghanistan to Zanzibar, from India to Mali, these initiatives are meant to leverage the unique transformative power of culture to improve the socio-economic conditions prevailing in many poorer populations – communities that often have a rich cultural heritage but that live in poverty.   Please also see the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme.

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Agencies

AKDN lead agency for Historic Cities: