Searching for the Hidden Jewels There is a wealth of architecture to be enjoyed in Egypt, spanning seven millennia, but not all are so obvious or well known. Some attractions belong to different eras yet stand side by side, and some others get overlooked by the magnificence of the attraction adjacent.
In old Cairo, the mosque of Ibn Tulun is a rare gem, even by Cairo standards. It dates from the 9th and 10th centuries, and features a rare detail: a spiral staircase snaking around the outside of the minaret. All around the mosque are buildings many centuries younger. A visit to the mosque is a must for the serious tourist, but before leaving the square back to the centre of Cairo, have a look at the house at Number 4 Midan Ahmed Ibn Tulun. From the outside it looks ordinary, rectangular, and aging, but the house has an interesting history.
Now under renovation, The Gayer-Anderson House that is in fact two adjoining houses, part 16th and part 18th century. About 36 rooms over three floors are full of history, part sophisticated and part eccentric, all achieved by a Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson. After retiring from a colourful British army career, he decided to stay in Egypt and spent most of his life collecting valuables and antiques from Egypt and as far as Persia and Syria. When he decided to leave, in 1942, he bequeathed the house and its contents to the Egyptian Nation. He was rewarded with a title of Pasha, and given the rank of Lewa.
Amongst the treasures to be seen are original Mashrabiya screens on the windows, designed to let the light in without exposing those within to the outside world. The wood is so intricately carved and beautifully designed in late 19th century fashion. Inside there are examples of Anglo-oriental themes such as a Queen Anne Room opposite a Harem Room and a Damascus Room. There is plenty to see and appreciate from authentic gilded antique furniture to alabaster tables, marble fountains, inscriptions and more than 2,000 books some dating from the 16th century. One of the drawings depict Major Gayer-Anderson as the Sphinx.
A major effort is underway to restore the house to its former glory. Once the project is finished, this hidden attraction will be worth adding to any
- Gayer-Anderson House
- 4 Midan Ahmed Ibn Tulun
- Tel. 00202 364 7822
Cleopatra Dazzles London in the Spring
This spring will see one of the most dramatic exhibitions ever to be staged at the British Museum in London. One of the main attractions of the Roman Egypt Exhibition is a first Century bust of what is thought to be Caesarion: the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. The bust will be exhibited, along with many reminders of Cleopatras era, to a fascinated public who have seen many TV documentaries on the subject. Most of the exhibits were salvaged over the past few years from the shallow waters of Alexandrias harbour.
Caesarions bust, measuring 80 centimetres was discovered three years ago under 10 meters of water off shore, where the ancient earthquake-shattered Royal Palace lies since the first century BC.
In a recent television documentary, a French diving team discovered statues, columns and sunken ships in the harbour. Many ancient artefacts and jars were raised and documented. Satellite mapping and sonar equipment were used for the first time to pinpoint the location of the many treasures on the seabed. Further research will be conducted in coming seasons.
The exhibition will be named, "Cleopatra of Egypt: from History to Myth and will be held between April 11th and August 26th, 2001.
This proverb is usually said to indicate inherited intelligence and cleverness. The English equivalent is "The son of a duck is a floater". The literal translation is "The son the goose is a good swimmer".
Egyptians use many proverbs in their daily conversations. These proverbs represent the tradition wisdom and cultural heritage, even for those who did not receive formal education. Most Egyptian proverbs encourage hard work, good deeds, modesty and wisdom. Above all they teach faith in God and courage in meeting destiny.
"If I werent Egyptian, I would have loved to be one"
Mustafa Kamel, a historical national Egyptian leader.