William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By William Henry Seward; Olive Risley Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
CAIRO AND THE PYRAMIDS.

The Road to the Pyramids.--The Style of the Viceroy.--Interior of the Great Pyramid. --The Sphinx.--Mariette Bey.--Use of the Pyramids.--Rapacious Arabs.--The Phþnix.--The Site of On.--Ruins of Heliopolis.--The Tree of the Holy Family.-- Mohammed Tauphik.--The Americans in Egypt.--The Citadel of Cairo.--A Museum of Antiquities.--Modern Cairo.--The Copts.--The Nilometer.--The Tombs of the Caliphs.--The Cemeteries of Cairo.--The Mosques.--The Dancing Dervishes.--Ghezireh.--Polygamy.--The Cairo of To-day.

Kasr Mudjii, May 9th.--We have given the day to the Pyramids. They deserved it, as they have exhausted it. From the time, twenty-five hundred years ago, when the Greek first explored Egypt, until just now, a visit to the Pyramids was a laborious undertaking. Whether the traveller advanced toward them from Alexandria, or only from Cairo, an infinite preparation, of boats, and guides, and camels, of donkeys led and donkeys driven, of tents and provisions, for a tedious and circuitous journey among the dikes and canals of the Nile, was requisite. Now, all this is changed, or at least it has been changed for us. The Khédive, in preparing for the Suez-Canal celebration, built a high, embanked road, across the valley of the Nile, to the very foot of the Pyramids, planting it with full-grown shade-trees. He constructed also a fine kiosk, at the base of the Pyramids, in the desert. These improvements are popularly said to have been made as an especial courtesy to the Empress Eugénie. We, however, have participated in their benefits, just as we did in the use of the pier which was

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