Gayer-Anderson Museum (Bayt al-Kiritliya)

Beit El Kertlia or the Gayer Anderson Museum is located in a beautiful historical house in Cairo. It was built in 1631 by a rich man called Mohamed Ibn Hah Salem Ibn Gelmam. The house is considered to be one of the most marvelous historical structures in Egypt and the museum is a popular tourist attraction.It is situated adjacent to the Mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun in the Sayyida Zeinab neighborhood. The building takes its name from Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson Pasha, who resided in the house between 1935 and 1942 with special permission from the Egyptian Government. The museum is noted for being one of the best-preserved examples of 17th-century domestic architecture left in Cairo, and also for its vast collection of furniture, carpets, curio, and other objects.

Historical houses like Beit El Sehemy and Beit El Kertlia stand as examples of ‎how magnificent and great historical Islamic architecture was in Egypt. A number of rich families lived in the house over time. Eventually lady from the ‎island of Crete in Greece bought the house and lived in it and this was why the house was ‎named Beit El Kertlia or “the House of the People From Crete.” The museum consists of two historical houses ‎facing each other, both constructed during the Ottoman period.‎ The first house, the Kertlia House, was constructed in 1631 while the other one, ‎which was built by Abdel Kader El Haddad, was erected in 1540. The two houses are ‎connected together with a passageway.‎

The reason why this structure was named the Geyer Anderson Museum was that the ‎Egyptian authorities granted the British officer Gayer Anderson the two ‎houses as his residence to live in in 1935.‎ During the stay in this historical complex Anderson was able to collect a large ‎selection of furniture, carpets, and many other eastern and Egyptian handicrafts that are beautiful and interesting to tourists today. However, in 1942, Gayer Anderson had to leave Egypt because of an illness and the ‎Egyptian government allowed people to visit the house and view his collection, before eventually allowing the whole complex to simply become a museum.

The two houses include ‎significant architectural features not only because the complex is among some rare ‎examples that remain from the Ottoman period, but also because of some other ‎distinctive elements. ‎

Among the most distinctive features of the Gayer Anderson, Museum Complex is ‎that it used to host a Sabil, which offered fresh water to the public, a feature that is ‎difficult to be found among historical houses in Egypt. ‎The Sabil was considered to be a religious structure that was added to a mosque or a ‎mausoleum to present people with their needs of water for doing ritual washing or wudu prior to Islamic prayers, but finding a Sabil within a ‎residential house was a rare feature in the Islamic architecture of the time.

The Sabil of the Gayer Anderson Museum is located in the right-hand side section of ‎the ground floor with a window opening on the street from which the servant ‎working in the Sabil used to give the water to the people. The room of the Sabil was ‎made out of stones and the ceiling contains some remarkable geometric decorations ‎with bright colors ‎


The Sahn or the open courtyard of the house has a semi-irregular shape with a white ‎marble fountain in the middle. The Sahn of the house, the same as in many other historic houses in Egypt, is the heart of the house with all the floors and the ‎sections of the house opening at the Sahn and not opening towards the exterior of the ‎house. ‎ This architectural design of houses was common for a number of reasons; the first is ‎to provide a sense of privacy especially to the ladies of the house and the second is ‎to protect the house against dust and dirt making the air inside the house cleaner and ‎fresher. ‎

All over the surface area of the Sahn, there are many pots that take the shape of ‎barrels and they are based upon white marble basins where the water coming from ‎the fountain is gathered to provide fresh water for the people living in the house. ‎ The rooms and the halls of the ground floor of the Gayer Anderson Museum ‎Complex consist mainly of storage places for the grains and the food of the ‎residences of the house. At the back of the Shan, there is a horse stable that would ‎host only a few horses.

The staircase that leads to the second floor of the house is located in the horse stable. ‎The most dominating feature of the second floor is what is called the “Maqa’ad” of ‎the house, which is a wide space overlooking the Sahn of the house. The word ‎‎”Maqa’ad” means the sitting area and this was where the people who lived in the ‎house used to sit, especially men.

The ceiling of the “Maqa’ad” is rather remarkable with many marvelous plants and ‎geometric golden decorations. There are also some decorated shelves all around the ‎‎”Maqa’ad” and this was where Anderson used to keep his glass items collection ‎which he was fond of. ‎


Many of the architectural features of the house can be viewed from the Maqa’ad ‎including the decorated walls of the house that are distinctive with their white and ‎red colors. The marvelous Mashrabeya screens of the house that overlook the Sahn ‎can be also admired from the Maqa’ad. ‎ The other section of the second floor of the Gayer Anderson Museum is the ‎Salamlek, the hall where the men used to meet and it is divided into three sections, ‎the same as many other historical houses that date back to the Mamluk and the ‎Ottoman periods. ‎ There are two galleries surrounding the main chamber of the hall. Each gallery has ‎many magnificently created Mashrabeya screens. The hall has many colorful pillows ‎and wonderful wooden ashtrays that were decorated with mother of pearl and ivory. ‎


The displays in the Salamlek hall include a collection of pistols that date back to the ‎Ottoman era with their distinctive accurate ornaments. There is also a collection of ‎swords from different sizes and shapes in the Salamlek hall of the Gayer Anderson ‎Museum. The sides of the ceiling of the Salamlek Hall have remarkable decorations with ‎geometrical patterns and Arabic calligraphy that included many pieces of poetry and ‎different phrases from famous literary works. ‎


The Ceiling itself is rich with its dark brown wood geometrical patterns decorations. ‎In the middle of the Salamlek hall, there is a large copper tray that dates back to the ‎Ottoman period and it was used by the owner of the house to offer his guests drinks ‎and snacks. ‎ There is also a white marble shelve where they used to put‏ ‏the “olla”, which is a kind of traditional ‎Egyptian water jug.


We have to note here that a large number of exhibits and antiques that are put on ‎display in the Salamlek Hall nowaday

s were not present here during the days of ‎Gayer Anderson but they were put recently when the house was modified to become ‎a museum. ‎


The Gallery of the photographs and drawings hosts a rare collection of fishing, love, ‎celebration, chanting, wildlife, flowers, and birds’ scenes. The portraits in this hall ‎are quite notable for their special attention to details and sizes. ‎From the Gallery of photographs and portraits, we move to the Haramlek section, the ‎section specified for the ladies of the house. This section is featured with its ‎beautiful Mashrabeya screens that overlook almost every section of the house and ‎the lanes and streets outside the house as well. The Mashrabeya screens were used ‎by women to look over the streets without being seen from outside. ‎ The Haramlek Hall is also featured with its many shelves and cupboards with their ‎wonderful colors that were created in the Persian style. ‎


The main staircase of the house leads to the roof that used to function as a seating ‎area for the women in the summer. There are many basins of water of different sizes ‎located in various locations in the roof for people to use to wash their hands and ‎faces in the summer.‎ Among the most beautiful sections of the Gayer Anderson Museum is the Persian-style bedroom of the owner of the house. The room has a magnificent bed decorated ‎with ivory and mother of pearl. There are also some candle holders and paintings ‎making the room even more attractive to the eye.‎ There is also the Turkish hall with its large Chair that has a crown on top of it ‎suggesting that this was a royal hall. It also contains some pretty portraits of ‎Mohamed Ali and Khedive Saied. ‎


The Museum of the House consists of a large hall that displays the collection that ‎Gayer Anderson gathered throughout his stay in Egypt. There are many items put on ‎display in this room including a large statue of Hatshepsut, a black statue of the ‎ancient Egyptian cat god, Bastet, and many glassware and pottery.‎


The celebration hall of the Gayer Anderson Museum is one of the most luxurious ‎halls in historical houses in Egypt. The hall is around 15 square meters in surface ‎area that is divided into two galleries; the first is featured with its wonderful throne ‎chair decorated with ivory and mother of pearl. ‎The middle section of this hall has a wonderfully decorated white marble fountain ‎and the floor of the hall is beautifully ornamented with different light colors of ‎marble. ‎ Visiting the Gayer Anderson Museum in Cairo is highly recommended for history ‎and Islamic architecture fans as most of the features of the house remaining in a ‎good condition making the visit to the house an enjoyable experience and makes you feel as if you are traveling back ‎in time to the period of the Ottomans.‎

Open Saturday-Thursday, 8:00 AM-4:00 PM
Friday, 8:00 AM-noon, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM

Beit al-Kritliyya, Sharia ibn Tulun (next to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun)

BY TAXI: Ask for “mes-ghid ibn tulun.” The museum is attached to the south-east corner of the mosque.

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Isis Temple

Built to honour the goddess Isis, this was the last temple built in the classical Egyptian style. Construction began around 690 BC, and it was one of the last outposts where the goddess was worshipped. The cult of Isis continued here until at least AD 550. The boat leaves you near the Kiosk of Nectanebo, the oldest part, and the entrance to the temple is marked by the 18m-high first pylon with reliefs of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos smiting enemies.

In the central court of the Temple of Isis, the mammisi (birth house) is dedicated to Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. Successive pharaohs reinstated their legitimacy as the mortal descendants of Horus by taking part in rituals celebrating the Isis legend and the birth of her son Horus in the marshes. The second pylon leads to a hypostyle hall, with superb column capitals. Note also the reuse of the temple as a Christian church, with crosses carved into the older hieroglyph reliefs, and images of the Egyptian gods carefully defaced. Beyond lie three vestibules, leading into the Inner Sanctuary of Isis. Two granite shrines stood here, one containing a gold statue of Isis and another containing the barque in which the statue travelled, but these were long ago moved to Florence and Paris, and only the stone pedestal for the barque remains, inscribed with the names of Ptolemy III and his wife, Berenice. Take a side door west out of the hypostyle hall to the Gate of Hadrian where there is an image of the god Hapi, sitting in a cave at the First Cataract, representing the source of the river Nile.

East of the second pylon is the delightful Temple of Hathor, decorated with reliefs of musicians (including an ape playing the lute) and Bes, the god of childbirth. South of this is the elegant, unfinished pavilion by the water’s edge, known as the Kiosk of Trajan (‘Pharaoh’s Bed’), perhaps the most famous of Philae’s monuments and one that was frequently painted by Victorian artists, whose boats were moored beneath it.

The whole complex was moved from its original location on Philae Island, to its new location on Agilkia Island, after the flooding of Lake Nasser. A major multinational Unesco team relocated Philae, and a number of other temples that now dot the shores of Lake Nasser. You can see the submerged original island a short distance away, punctuated by the steel columns used in the moving process.

Don’t miss the sound and light show at night, the least cheesy of the sound and light ‘extravaganzas’. On your feet, look out for the extremely creative guards who will do all in their power to get in your photos, or to point out the hieroglyphs that you can quite clearly see yourself, all for some baksheesh (tip)!


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Abydos Temple


In a country that’s home to some of the most ancient structures on earth, the city of Abydos is a standout destination for lovers of history, hieroglyphs and architecture. That’s because this city is one of the nation’s most historic—and home to perhaps the most well-preserved temple in the country. 

Travelers to this Middle Egypt destination can examine the exquisite reliefs of King List at the Temple of Seti. These finely-detailed carvings are some of the best kept in all of Egypt and the temple’s off-the-beaten-path vibe means it’s easy to explore without bumping into tons of other tourists. 

Archeologists say the carvings on the temple’s exterior are worth checking out, but it’s the interior reliefs that really showcase the craftsmanship of early artists. Seti temple, which is dedicated to the god of the underworld and afterlife, is an essential stop for anyone traveling to Luxor.

At an undetermined date, a great clearance of temple offerings had been made and a modern discovery of a chamber into which they were gathered has yielded the fine ivory carvings and the glazed figures and tiles that show the splendid work of the first dynasty. A vase of Menes with purple hieroglyphs inlaid into a green glaze and tiles with relief figures are the most important pieces found. The noble statuette of Cheops in ivory, found in the stone chamber of the temple, gives the only portrait of this great pharaoh.

The temple was rebuilt entirely on a larger scale by Pepi I in the sixth dynasty. He placed a great stone gateway to the temenos, an outer temenos wall and gateway, with a colonnade between the gates. His temple was about 40 × 50 ft (12 x 15 m) inside, with stone gateways front and back, showing that it was of the processional type. In the eleventh dynasty Mentuhotep I added a colonnade and altars. Soon after, Mentuhotep II, who unified the two lands of Egypt, entirely rebuilt the temple, laying a stone pavement over the area, about 45 ft (14 m) square and added subsidiary chambers. Soon thereafter in the twelfth dynasty, Senusret I laid massive foundations of stone over the pavement of his predecessor. A great temenos was laid out enclosing a much larger area and the new temple itself was about three times the earlier size. 


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Abu Simbel Temple


Abu Simbel is

  1. a)     a small village 280km south of Aswan and 40km north of the Sudanese border;
  2. b)     a former Nubian village of the same name on the Nile in Southern Egypt which was inundated by Lake Nasser during the creation of the Aswan High Dam (which also involved the relocation of 100,000 Nubians to parts of Egypt and Sudan);
  3. c)     the site of two temples built by Rameses II between 1274 and 1244 B.CE, now moved to higher ground, adjoining the present-day village of Abu Simbel and overlooking Lake Nasser.


The airport was built to bring visitors to the monuments. A road runs from the airport through the village main street (Ramsis) to the temples, passing a petrol station, fire station, hospital, market square and commercial banks. A courtesy shuttle runs from the airport directly to the monuments.

Hotel locations and monuments

Abu Simbel has five hotels, all situated on or near Ramsis road. A further one (Tuya) isalmost completed.

As the airport road bends to the right across the first main bridge and joins Ramsis, it passes a petrol station on the right. Set back from the road, Abu Simbel Tourist Village (known locally as Hotel Abbas, with 30 rooms) is opposite the petrol station, offering the village’s cheapest accommodation.

After passing the new hospital, a turning to the left opposite the fire station marks the northern edge of the village and is the location of Eskaleh Nubian EcoLodge, a boutique hotel built from mudbricks with traditional methods and offering about six rooms.

A few yards after the fire station, the Nobaleh Ramsis Hotel on the right-hand side of the main road reasonable rooms at a modest price and marks the beginning of the village proper. To the left is the market square and souk. A few yards further on is the village centre, a popular gathering spot on Friday evenings. There are several shops and small cafes in this area.

The road passes across a long bridge with fishing boats to the right and a brightly painted frieze with viewing portals. On the far side is a junction with several commercial banks where currency can be exchanged. There are a couple of small cafes here as a road forking to the right leads to the Seti Abu Simbel Lake Resort Hotel (6 suites and 136 rooms). The elegant Seti hotel is on one of two promontories, the other being occupied by the more functional Nefertari and the monuments complex.

The main road continues on the left fork on a gentle hill to the monuments. At the top of the rise, a long access road off to the right leads to the Nefertari Hotel. There are two long bays of market stalls selling tourist items. Behind the beginning of the market stalls, facing the Nefertari, is a small café selling items such as water and ice cream at tourist prices.

Passing through the entrance to the Abu Simbel monuments area, a small exhibition area is viewable just before the ticket office. There is a circular path leading from the ticket office, at the rear of the monuments, around the two artificial mountains which house the main temple, dedicated to Ra-Herakhte and Rameses II, and a smaller one dedicated to Hathor and Rameses’ wife. Nefertari. Both temples face outwards to Lake Nasser and are not overlooked by the mainland.

The 66-foot (20-metre) seated figures of Ramses are set against the recessed face of the cliff, two on either side of the entrance to the main temple. Carved around their feet are small figures representing Ramses’ children, his queen, Nefertari, and his mother, Muttuy (Mut-tuy, or Queen Ti). Graffiti inscribed on the southern pair by Greek mercenaries serving Egypt in the 6th century BCE have provided important evidence of the early history of the Greek alphabet. The temple itself, dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte, consists of three consecutive halls extending 185 feet (56 metres) into the cliff, decorated with more Osiride statues of the king and with painted scenes of his purported victory at the Battle of Kadesh. On two days of the year (about February 22 and October 22), the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the whole length of the temple and illuminate the shrine in its innermost sanctuary.


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