Egypt reopens 3,000 year-old ‘Avenue of the Sphinxes’ with grand ceremony

This article is over 5 months old Officials and well-wishers gather to see wreckage of ancient city of the Great Pyramid of Giza Egypt reopens 3,000 year-old ‘Avenue of the Sphinxes’ with grand ceremony…

Egypt reopens 3,000 year-old 'Avenue of the Sphinxes' with grand ceremony

This article is over 5 months old

Officials and well-wishers gather to see wreckage of ancient city of the Great Pyramid of Giza

Egypt reopens 3,000 year-old ‘Avenue of the Sphinxes’ with grand ceremony

Egyptian officials and well-wishers have gathered to see the rubble of the ancient city of the Great Pyramid of Giza, closed for three decades because of air pollution, as part of a grand ceremony marking the site’s reopening to the public.

Fate: Egypt retires ‘pharaoh of the Nile’ Khufu Read more

Khufu, who built the massive pyramid in 1894 and its twin, the nearby Cheops, in the 18th century BC, made an impromptu address from his sarcophagus inside the 4,500-year-old monument, delivering a message of peace.

“In the history of history, never was there such a day or evening as we have today in Egypt and the grandeur we achieved,” he said.

“Every Egyptian citizen has an important role to play. Peace and love.”

Before his speech, the Egyptian tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, said Khufu had “thoroughly reformed Egypt, removing it from the ground”.

The 27,500 sq metre mound became a UNESCO World Heritage site after it was discovered in 1848. It is the oldest known structure in the world to be intact.

But pollution, including sulphur-laden air caused by poor public lighting, has been a problem for visitors, who have to take specialised equipment to breathe clean air.

It was closed for two decades, until 2004, when it was transformed into a park, “Quba, Muses, The Pyramids of Giza”, with park ranger stations.

Since then it has been closed again and on Tuesday it was to reopen to the public.

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The ceremony came one day after Sayed Al-Okash, Egypt’s second most powerful court official, told Egyptians in a TV interview that he feared Khufu’s “short life will be outlived by poor living conditions and garbage”.

In his address, Khufu urged Egyptians to address these shortcomings.

“Work and take care of your country and its citizens. Don’t be deluded and feel life is bad. To be honest I thought life was like this; I was deceived. The life of a people is not this,” he said.

Earlier he had visited the monuments, reading some of the graffiti along the parade ground, the statue of the head of Isis and a plaque announcing the beginning of the restoration.

He paused at the X-shaped Temple of Apollo, a 5,500-year-old edifice.

“That’s my old shop,” he said, gesturing to its broken columns. “There’s too much dust in it and we need to remove it. This is our job.”

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