Tag Archives: Tahrir Square

Egyptian Museum in Cairo – A Few Hours Steeped in Antiquity

By Lakshmi:

Who?  Anyone visiting Cairo and interested in talking a walk down history with an amazingly rich trove of finds from antiquity.

What? The Egyptian Museum located at Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo.

How? You can take a taxi or bus or join a tour group to visit this museum.  The museum is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm daily, except during the month of Ramadan when it closes at 5:00 pm.  Entrance to the museum costs 60 Egyptian pounds (students enter all attractions at half price).  Tickets to the Mummies room is charged separately at 100 Egyptian pounds  and to us was a must do.  More details on then museum can be found here.

http://www.sca-egypt.org/eng/MUS_Egyptian_Museum.htm

Why?  The selling point that got us into the museum was to be able to see the finds from the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.  But that is just one of approximately 160,000 objects covering 5,000 years of Egypt’s past that are housed in the 160 halls of this museum (a thousand objects per hall??).  The museum in a very simple, understated way welcomes you to what has become home to  one the largest collection of objects from antiquity.  From the carts used to ferry the mummies to the canopic jars used to preserve organs to the shrines and jewels in the tombs, each object and exhibit helped us bring this lost period in history to life.  We gazed on the statues of Nefertiti, Akhenaten and more, we examined scenes from the lives of Egyptian royalty engraved on hieroglyphic tablets, we were awestruck by the intricate carvings and paintings in jewelry and pottery and were speechless at the grandeur, pomp and riches that accompanied royalty to their afterlife.  We spent several hours at this museum and felt we could have done a whole lot more.  Regardless of how much time you chose to spend here, you will emerge enriched with one regret…not being able to absorb more.

A Tale Of Two Squares: A Pre-Revolution Tahrir

By Siddhi: 

In light of all that is happening in Cairo at the moment and the election of President Mohamed Morsi in what is hopefully a true democratic leap for Egypt, I thought it was fitting that I write about a place I knew before revolution exploded on the streets of a city aching with a desperate heartbeat for change.

Two years ago, my family sat on our Continental mileage accounts looking at where we could do a unique cultural immersion trip for Spring Break. When Cairo cleared up as a viable destination, our intrepid souls booked the tickets without a blink. This would be another crucial and adventurous step in our goal to conquer each of the Ancient Civilizations, a dream that possessed me ever since I took my sixth grade world history class.

Cairo was unforgettable, to say the least.

In the largest city in the Middle East, it can take 40 minutes to travel a mile in the severe traffic that congests the narrow, populated streets.  On your feet, you simply cannot stop moving amongst the whirlwind of almost seven million Cairo locals who have mastered the haste required for basic survival in their city.  The City of A Thousand Minarets is a fitting name indeed, so expansive that according to those who’ve been born and raised in Cairo, a lifetime navigating the metropolis isn’t enough to fully experience its scope.

So when I visited Tahrir Square, I felt like I was in another Cairo. Broad spaces, pristinely maintained grounds, a delicate Sphinx exuding serenity, and the warm enthusiasm of the paints on the walls of the Egyptian Museum. Tahrir inhabited a wholly different world than the city I had roamed in preceding days. As much as I enjoyed and appreciated the ceaseless energy of Cairo street life, sitting in Tahrir was a much-needed escape from the thrilling yet tiring rhythm of the city.

On that trip, Tahrir Square came to represent structure and relative tranquility in a city that otherwise embodied the shameless pulse of disorder (one that, in retrospect, so precisely incarnated the tremors of an Egypt ready to be flung into the heat of rebellion).

Tahrir was peace and order amidst a city throbbing with the spirit of an overwhelming but beautiful chaos.

And less than a year later in the very strange timeline that is our world and the way it works, I was sitting at home and CNN flashed with images of an entirely unnoticeable place. They called it Tahrir Square. But it wasn’t the place I had visited. Swarms of protestors in crowds significantly larger than I had seen in the most populated streets of Cairo occupied the place that I could only remember as an exhibit of unruffled composition. There was peace, at first. And then bloody violence. Tahrir became the site of arguably one of the most significant modern social uprisings that lit the first flames that would ultimately set the rest of the Middle East on fire.

It’s almost impossible to juxtapose these two Tahrir Squares in my mind. One is a serene departure from the harmless turmoil of the city, and the other is a tumultuous revolution fighting for the preservation of human rights. Seemingly antonymous on every level, and yet so intricately intertwined. The place that embodied physical peace within the greater city wilderness had become the place that decided that peace meant something a lot more. Even if guarding it meant upheaval first.

Perhaps soon, when President Morsi and Egypt begin working towards the construction of that functioning democracy, Tahrir will once again begin to resemble the place I remember it as.

It is all very confusing and intriguing at the same time.  But what I take away is that any notion of “static” is foreign in the constantly surprising continuum of human politics and desires. What a place means isn’t bound to any locked grid of time or ideologies. The connotations of its presence transform, eternally. Just like Tahrir.