Cairo, Egypt | Photo Gallery
Cairo, Egypt is an amazing city full of life and movement, and it is that way almost 24 hours every day, with the noisy honking of horns, children playing in the streets and merchants selling their wears and services. And here, the Egyptians are most at home in this powerful, modern and ancient city.
In a depression to the south of Khafre's pyramid at Giza near Cairo sits a huge creature with the head of a human and a lion's body. This monumental statue, the first truly colossal royal sculpture in Egypt, known as the Great Sphinx, is a national symbol of Egypt, both ancient and modern. It has stirred the imagination of poets, scholars, adventurers and tourists for centuries and has also inspired a wealth of speculation about its age, its meaning, and the secrets that it might hold.
Though there are many outstanding ancient monuments in Egypt that survive to this day, one in particular is best known and the most closely associated by the general public with ancient Egypt. It is, of course, the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the largest in Egypt, located on the Giza Plateau just outside Cairo.
The Mena House Oberoi is set in 40 acres of jasmine-scented gardens with the Pyramids towering above. It was originally a royal lodge used by Khedive Ismail, the King of Egypt, as a house for himself and his guests while on hunting trips in the desert or during visits to the Pyramids of Giza. With the opening of the Suez Canal, he enlarged the guesthouse to receive international and royal guests visiting the Pyramids. Empress Eugenie was one of them as was Albert, Prince of Wales.
In the 1880s, the guesthouse was bought by Fredrick Head who named it "Mena House" after the first of the 76 kings on the famous "Tablet of Abydos". It was once again sold to an English couple, who turned it into a luxurious hotel. Although the fittings, architecture and decorations remained oriental in style, some English touches began to appear. At a time when balconies were unknown in hotels, the owners decided that every room should have an open balcony overlooking the Pyramids.