Thursday, April 05, 2012

Restoration of the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine el-Aref)

The legendary turn-of-the-last-century Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan is now as glamorous as it ever was following three years of restoration, writes Nevine El-Aref

On a hilltop in Aswan, at the spot where the River Nile meets a granite barrier to create the first cataract, stand the elegant Old Cataract Hotel, a favourite haunt of film stars and royalty with one of the best views in existence. The building combines three different architectural styles in a harmonious blend of late Victorian opulence, Egyptian atmosphere and an inimitable touch of French taste.

The first legend of the hotel relates to its name, which refers to the old belief that the collision of the Nile with the northernmost granite barrier of land was actually the point where the civilised world reached its end. The hotel overlooks Elephantine Island, a place of some significance in ancient Egypt as the centre of the cult of Khnum, god of the cataract and the annual inundation.

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