February 24
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Renovation work is nearly complete on an Armenian cemetery in Cairo, and whose graves reflect a 100 years of the community’s history in the Egyptian capital city, Reuters reported.

Workers have fixed and cleaned up tombstones, statues, and busts that sit on top of graves.

The site dates back to 1924, when the Armenian community was granted a piece of land adjacent to an older one. It fused Egyptian, Armenian, and European architectural designs.

“There was a period when this place was neglected, and the renovation project was a great initiative because the area was restored to what it once was,” said Nairy Hampikian, an archaeologist and conservation specialist who has overseen the renovation project.

Armenians began settling in Egypt in the Fatimid era from the 10th to 12th Centuries and were given a piece of land by Mohamed Ali Pasha in 1844 in an area now known as old Islamic Cairo.

The size of the Armenian community in Egypt would fluctuate, driven by the country’s political and economic situation.

But it was not until after the events of World War One—when Ottoman forces killed as many as 1.5 million Armenians in 1915—that a large number of Armenians fled to Egypt and other countries.

The Armenians in Egypt thrived in cosmopolitan cities such as Cairo and Alexandria.

Today, the Armenian community in Egypt has shrunk to about 3,000 people, but the said burial ground serves as a reminder of the Armenians’ cultural and religious heritage.

“We found tombstones that date back to the 1830s, 40s, and 50s,” Hampikian said.

Restoration work began in 2014 and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2018. The Armenian Patriarchate of Cairo, with help from donations from the Armenian community, funded the project.

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