Scotsabroad's Weblog

October 17, 2008

$3 Million Well Spent

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 7:21 pm

Today we headed downtown to explore a bit of the island of Gezira. I wanted to photograph the lions designed by Alfred Jacquemart for Khedive Ismail, on the Qasr al-Nil Bridge. We also planned to go up the Cairo Tower and visit the Pharaonic Gardens to find another obelisk and an ancient statue of an unfinished lion.

We drove to Maadi and took the Metro to Tahir Square. We walked over the Qasr al-Nil Bridge on to the island of Gezira and Zamalek.  At each end of the bridge are a pair of very imposing yet somewhat likeable lions.

The Cairo Tower with its wicker basketry and lotus flower design was opened in 1961. We thought that the entrance fee was a bit steep, 65 LE each, but Lucas got up for nothing. The pollution was very noticeable today and we were not expecting to see for miles at the top. We were certainly not expecting the solitary lift, with bellhop, taking everyone up and down the tower. I did not dwell on thoughts of power failure (common in Cairo) or the safety of the viewing gallery. Even through the haze the view was incredible.

One story goes that the USA backed Nasser’s military takeover and one of Nasser’s aides received a suitcase from the CIA containing $3 million. Being sensitive to accepting bribes and still undecided about who to side with during the Cold War, Nasser decided to keep the money but build this rather fabulous folly with revolving restaurant and blinking antenna. Flamboyant. Egypt must have recouped the money charging tourists to go up and down since then. We had a great view of 6 October Bridge and Roda Island, could just make out the outline of the Citadel but not a glimpse of the pyramids.

 We then looked for the entrance to the Pharaonic Gardens and The Nile Needle. The boys missed out on seeing the obelisk last week in Matariyya, and apart from another placed near the Egypt Air Terminal, the only other one in Cairo stands in these gardens on the banks of the Nile. There is also a rather splendid, unfinished lion (facing a finished one) that makes visitors wonder… why wasn’t it completed?




1 Comment »

  1. It is a bit like completing a virtual tour of egypt, you are doing very well at keeping me interested in all of the places that you manage to get to. Looks great.

    Comment by Forbes M — October 19, 2008 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

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