Saturday, March 7, 2009

Egypt 2008: The Egyptian Museum in Cairo

October 11th.

So ... you may remember, although I certainly won't hold it against you if you don't, that in my last entry on my trip to Egypt I wrote about a visit to a perfume store where we got to see how decorative glass bottles are made. This was not a part of the 'official' program and it was a little annoying since any time spent in this store was less time we could spend on our last stop of the day, the Egyptian Museum. Our fellow travellers, Einar and his ladies, were much more annoyed than we were though, which turned out to be interesting. I'll get back to that. We left the store eventually and our trusty minibus took us to the Museum. This is the most prestigious museum in Egypt and they are very proud of it - as indeed they should be, it has an incredible collection and is a must-see for any tourist in Cairo. As was quite obvious from the number of people there. :-)

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of pictures from this visit since photography is not allowed inside the building. You have to give your camera to the guards outside before they'll let you in. The reason is obvious ... with so many visitors it would be utter confusion in there with all the flashes going off and people posing for pictures everywhere ... and the flashes might not be good for the artifacts on display either, I suppose. I may post some pictures later as I bought a DVD full of photos taken by a professional photographer of many of the display items. Watch this space (but don't hold your breath, obviously ;-). So ... this post all I have to show you is some pictures from the outside of the building.

Once we went inside, Hatem, our guide, gave us some info on some of the most important artifacts in the first display hall, but generally guides are not encouraged to take their groups around inside the Museum. I don't remember if it actually wasn't allowed at all - this was the case in a number of other places we visited, the tombs in the Valley of the Kings for instance. But Hatem just showed off a few essential must-sees and then let us wander the place on our own, with a set time to meet up again outside. CH and I of course headed off to see the most popular display in the Museum - the room that holds the grave goods of King Tutankhamen. :-o Not everything was there as some items were (are) on loan to a travelling exhibition, but there was still a lot to be seen and certainly the most famous items were in place - the young king's iconic mask, for instance. Seeing it with our own eyes was pretty amazing, and everything looked just as impressive in real life as it does in pictures. Just thinking of the age of these things was pretty mindboggling. o_O

After leaving this display we wandered around for the rest of the time that we had, but seriously, there was just so much ... !! So many different types of exhibits and so many of each ... ! You could spend days in that place and still not see everything. So we were pretty overwhelmed after a while, and got to thinking that maybe it was just as well that we only had ninety minutes or whatever it was. We still would never have gotten to see everything ... or even close. A truly overwhelming collection. We spent the last few minutes of our stay in the museum shop (of course!!) and then headed out to meet the others. Which was interesting. Hatem was waiting outside of course, I mean, he must have been to that place umpteen times. But the others, who had been complaining so much about not having as much time as they wanted in the Museum - who had seemed to be much more preoccupied with this than we were - they were already waiting outside for us too. All of them. :-D So, I guess maybe it wasn't quite as interesting as they had expected. ;-)

Some exterior shots:

The front of the building and part of the garden. Check out the grafitti carved on the palm tree to the left. :-D

Another front view.

The entrance. I decided to test my camera a little. See that head, or bust, or whatever, in the center of the arch above the front door? This picture is taken with just the regular setting on the camera, no zoom:

And here's the bust shot from roughly the same place but zoomed in on. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

A pair of sphinxes were guarding the approach to the entrance, of course.

A statue in the front wall.

Some statuary on the front lawn.


Margo said...

Love the pictures, and the sphinxes were cool since those are legendary to me. I've never seen them in real life.

James said...

Completely unrelated to your post, but ... I can't help noticing that the letter you keep promising me (in virtual public on this very blog, even!) hasn't arrived yet. I did get your postcard, and the comment about the forthcoming letter that was written on it...

I suppose the letter may have got lost in the post, what with Royal Mail being a shadow of the hollow shell of its former self.

Hopefully it'll arrive soon because I'm off to Japan on the 23rd March for three weeks ... nudge, nudge.

Leisha Camden said...

Fortunately there were a few things to take pictures of outside the building too. :-) If I'd been able to bring the camera inside too I don't know how many pictures I would have taken there ... ! although there was a general shortage of sphinxes inside, I seem to recall. :-)

James: I am so slow ... !!! But keep an eye on your mailbox, because any day now you will get not only a letter, but much more besides ... !! I hope you will come back and leave a comment here when the package arrives ... just so people here will know that I haven't just been telling tales. ;-) I'm soo sorry for being so slow, but ... any day now. Seriously. It's in the mail. A letter and presents and chocolate and everything. :-)

I hope you'll have a great time in Japan. Again. :-) Who will you be visiting this time? I expect lots of pictures ... !! ;-)

James said...

You know me - formerly reluctant cameraman turned shutterbug. Expect lots and lots and lots of piccies. And postcards. That's my promise made in virtual public. May I be virtually stoned by a virtual lynch mob of your readers if I should go back on that promise (...again...).

I'll let you know when the swag arrives! I'm not actually sure of your feelings toward babies (despite the fact that we've known each other for years...), but I've got some pics of my teacher's littlun which I'll share by e-mail at some point as well if you're interested.

A very hearty (though belated) Happy Birthday to your mum, too! Been a while since I last saw her (almost ten years, by my count...) but I still remember her as if it were yesterday. Just don't ask me to remember my mobile phone number...

Leisha Camden said...

Postcards ... !!! :-o Can it be true?? I'll believe it when I see it ... !!

Not a big fan of babies, but as long as they stay in pictures, I guess they're OK. ;-)

And I'll tell my mother hello and happy birthday from you, I'll sure she'll appreciate it. :-)