We started our first day with the Cairo Museum. It was a long visit (three hours), but a fascinating one, especially the treasury of Tutankhamon! In fact, we were less impressed by the famous mask than by the golden funerary temples with engravings of a winged goddess and by the jewels and other small, precious objects.  Since it is not allowed to take cameras into the museum, here are some photos from the Internet. The best-known object in the museum is certainly the funerary mask of the pharaoh Tutankhamon.

Tutankhamon's funeral mask

[Image from Wikipedia Commons]

We were also very impressed by a large hall dedicated to statues and other objects from the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaton.


Bust of the pharaoh Akhenaton
[Image from Wikipedia Commons]

The representations of Akhenaton are the strangest in the museum -- and of all that we saw of Egyptian art. The pharaoh is depicted with a long head, slanted eyes and thick lips; and with a distended belly, heavy thighs, and ankles so thin one wonders how they could support his weight. Historians don't seem to be certain how much the form of the pharaoh is due to a pathological difformity and how much to the fashion in which he wanted to be portrayed. It seems to be some of both. In any case, the result is rather disquieting. This style is supposed to have liberated Egyptian art from previous dogma. One can see in the following scene that the queen Nefertiti is represented similarly.

Akhenaton and Aton

Scene of adoration of the god Aton (the sun) by Akhenaton and his family
[Image from Wikipedia Commons]
In Cairo, there was a dense mist, or maybe it was pollution, which kept the sunlight from breaking through. So it was grey and rather gloomy, not at all what we expected in Egypt.

The Nile in Cairo A floating restaurant (good, too)

View from the restaurant A street in Cairo

The citadel is a hill-top fort complex whose construction was begun by Saladin in 1176. It was later occupied and, sometimes, expanded by the Mamluks, Napoleon, Mohammed Ali and the British, among others. From 1830 to 1848, Mohammed Ali built a very large mosque there. A clock in the courtyard was given by the French King Louis-Philippe in exchange for the obelisk from Luxor.

The citadel and the Mosque of  Mohammed Ali Cairo seen from the Citadel

Court of the mosque, with the famous clock
(a gift from France) which has never worked
Entrance of the mosque

The Mosque of Mohammed Ali

Then we took a half-hour walk in the Khan al-Kalili souk. Lots of life in there. 

A café in Khan al-Khalili (the"Khan") Water pipes for sale

Beautiful architecture A beautiful gate

We drank an excellent mint tea, the first of many, in a café with other Lotus friends. From the café, we admired the Sayyidna el-Hussein Mosque. At that time of day, only men were allowed to enter that part of the mosque.

Cafés Some lotuses drinking mint tea

A young copper salesman The Sayyidna el-Hussein Mosque
La Mosquée Sayyidna el-Hussein La Mosquée Sayyidna el-Hussein
Interior of the Sayyidna el-Hussein Mosque Must be a tom

Return to the introduction.


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