Monday, January 11, 2010

Conservation: A walk in the cemeteries

Al Ahram Weekly (Ahmed Abu Ghazala)

With a story behind every tomb, there is more to Cairo's cemeteries than meets the eye, says Ahmed Abu Ghazala

Egypt's history is packed with figures who have affected the country's history in different ways, and perhaps the best way to remember them and their accomplishments is to visit their tombs. A visit to Cairo's cemeteries makes a fascinating day out, these being constructed in a style different from that of any other cemetery in the world today.

The Al-Ghafeer (guard) cemetery in Cairo is famous for hosting the tombs of many of Egypt's former royal family, though these are sometimes not well kept. On the cemetery walls, a banner proclaims the names of Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman and Heidar El-Boghdadi, the MPs who represent the area in parliament, and inside there is the richly decorated tomb of Princess Shwikar, first wife of King Fouad.

However, negligence has blackened the stone, the tomb lies in the middle of a square that is often full of traffic, and a stray dog lives inside the tomb with those who take care of it.

Elsewhere in the cemetery there is the tomb of Queen Nariman, the last queen of Egypt, wife of King Farouk, and mother of the last king, Ahmed Fouad.

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