Cross a Crazy Cairo Street

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Saturday, October 2, 2010

              Cairo, the capitol of Egypt and largest city in the Arab world, is one of themost densely populated cities in the world. While visiting this city of over 6.8 million, be sure to see the mummies at the Cairo Museum, drop by the Step Pyramid, touch the tip of the Great Pyramid, kiss the Sphinx and cross a crazy Cairo street.

Cairo Museum

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, established in 1835, has over 120,000 items on display with thousands more in storage.  Their mummy room once contained 27 royal mummies but was closed in 1981 by order of Anwar Sadat.  I t has since been reopened with only 9 mummies on display including the newly discovered mummy of Queen Hatshepsut.

 Step Pyramid

                The Step Pyramid of King Djoser, built from 2630 to 2611 BC, is thought to be the world's first stone building.  Up until then mud, brick, wood and reeds were used.   

                Apparently the pyramid was built by accident.  The King originally asked his architect to build a large rectangular tomb like the others of his time.  Then he decided he wanted his to be more spectacular so a smaller rectangular block was added to the top.  Subsequent blocks were added until the pyramid took its final form.  The idea caught on and his successor’s built a variety of pyramids each better than the last and finally evolving into the Great Pyramid.

Great Pyramid

The pyramids at Giza belonged to three pharaohs who were father, son and grandson.  It was disrespectful to build a pyramid larger than you’re your fathers thus explaining why each pyramid is smaller than the one built before it. 

The oldest and largest pyramid, aka the Great Pyramid of Giza, was designed as a tomb for King Khufu.  It took twenty years to build and was completed in 2566 BC.  It originally stood 146 meters tall holding the title of tallest man-made structure for over 3,800 years until it was surpassed in 1300 by the Lincoln Cathedral in London that reached a height of 160 meters.

It is a little known fact that the base of the pyramid is not a square rather it is a four-point star.    This discovery was made by British Air Force pilot P. Groves who happened to notice the unusual shape of the pyramid while flying over it in 1940.  He took the now famous photograph that shows how the concavity of its sides, while not visible to the naked eye on the ground, can be seen from the sky during certain times of the day.

Be sure to drive up to the hill above the pyramids where you can pose with one finger touching the top of the Great Pyramid.

Kiss the Sphinx

                The Sphinx, a part of Khafre’s complex, is the earliest colossal statue in Egypt and the largest monolith statue in the world.  Most Egyptologists think it is a portrait statue of the King carved from the mound of limestone left over after quarrying rock for the interior of the Great Pyramid.  Of course no one knows for sure. 

                After the Giza complex was abandoned, the Sphinx became covered up to its shoulders in sand.  In 1817 the Sphinx was uncovered up to its chest but not fully uncovered until 1925. 

There are a numerous theories as to why the Sphinx is missing its nose but there are no firm answers.  I guess it will remain a mystery. While you are there, make sure to pucker up and have someone take a picture of you kissing the Sphinx.

Cross a Cairo Street

Despite the large volume of traffic on the streets of Cairo, there are no traffic laws, streetlights and crosswalks.  It’s just a free for all.  Any local will tell you that the best way to cross the street is to pray to Allah and walk into traffic hoping you don’t get hit.                  Surprisingly enough this method works and after successfully crossing the street a few times you may renew your faith in God.

Check out my Cairo video

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