CAIRO: As famous city squares go, few can have played a more prominent role in shaping a country’s history than Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Best known for providing the stage for nationwide protests, which led to the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the public gathering place is one of the capital’s most important sites.
For 18 consecutive days, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators — some reports put the number at millions — descended on the square before Mubarak finally resigned after 30 years in power.
And the anti-Mubarak protests were not the only political demonstrations Tahrir, also known as Martyr Square, has witnessed.
On June 30, 2013, a year after Mohamed Mursi became the Egyptian president, thousands of protesters gathered in the square demanding his resignation.
Following the two mass demonstrations, Tahrir (Liberation) Square, which lies at the midpoint of Cairo, has become not only a significant part of Egyptian history but also a popular tourist attraction.
Directly after the protests, Egyptians and foreigners feared venturing into Tahrir after it gained a reputation for being unsafe, despite a heavy police presence.
Nine years on from its most significant event, the square is now once again bustling with commuters being within walking distance of the Abdel-Moneim Riad bus station and a transport hub.
Tahrir is also home to the Egyptian Museum which houses more than 100,000 artifacts from the country.
The square is overlooked by the downtown branch of The American University in Cairo, one of the most famous international educational institutions in the country and the Arab world. In 2008, the university relocated to New Cairo, in the Fifth Settlement, taking with it a significant amount of traffic.
Renovation work resumed this month in the square, part of which will involve the addition of four rams restored from Karnak Temple’s Hall of Celebration in Luxor. They will be placed around an obelisk being moved from Sun Al-Hajar in the east of Egypt.
With the Egyptian Museum due to relocate to Haram, near the Giza pyramids, the future of the square is not clear. But with its history, offices, schools, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and timeworn residential buildings, Tahrir Square is guaranteed never to be short of visitors.