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An exciting visit to the Egyptian Museum of Cairo

This is the English version of my blog GDAMAS (Portuguese language, online since 2010). I'm still working on it. English is not my native language. Please, feel free to correct me.


Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is the official name, but people commonly know it as Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo. The giant building shines as one of the key points to see in Egypt.

Join me now on a virtual visit to the museum. In addition to many photos, you will see tips for your exciting visit when finally in Cairo.

Have you taken your Indiana Jones hat and whip, or maybe your Lara Croft garments?

No need to ask! Of course I have, Damas! I’m ready for this new adventure in Cairo!

I’m impressed.

Now, take my hand. Come with me. May the good Egyptian gods be with us.

The unforgettable Museum of Cairo

The current and the new museum

The current building of the Museum of Cairo houses 120,000 items — not all in exhibition — since 1902.

Oh, wait, Damas. You said “since 1902.” But what about the new Museum of Cairo? It’s been on the news.

That’s what I was about to say.

A new museum will soon be opened. However, it will not be an extra museum: It will replace the current museum. A grand project (what about pharaonic?), as the Egyptian Antiquity deserves.

But we’re not talking about a new museum in Cairo. The new unit is in Giza — which is part of Greater Cairo. Conveniently, it is very close to the complex of the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. I saw the area, the construction works, and was very impressed.

Map with the new Egyptian Museum.
The new museum and the complex with the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx.

The inauguration of this new museum has been postponed several times. The second half of 2020 should be finally the time of the great opening, but Covid-19 appeared to ruin the plan.

By the way, because of this new unit, you may not see some items in the current museum during the coming months. They are being gradually transferred to the new building.

Location

The Museum of Cairo is just a few steps away from the famous Tahrir Square.

Tahrir Square near the Museum of Cairo
In front of the museum gates, I see the Tahrir Square in the background.

You certainly want the precise location. Find now the Museum of Cairo directly on Google Maps.

Opening times

The Museum of Cairo opens daily from 9AM to 5PM. But pay attention: The box office closes at 4PM.

The new museum is a pharaonic project

The schedule will be different if your visit happens during Ramadan. Local authorities determine the new and temporary opening times around one month before Ramadan. The doors will probably be open from 9AM to 3PM.

Tickets

It’s time to open your wallet!

Currently, the ticket costs 120 Egyptian pounds (US$ 6.70 / 5.80€ / 5.20£).

I believe you will spend a little more. Well, you should. For there’s an extra ticket of 50 Egyptian pounds (US$2.80 / 2.44€ / 2.20£) to take photos inside the museum. And 150 Egyptian pounds (US$8.40 / 7.30€ / 6.50£) to enter the unmissable Royal Mummies Room.

Oh, wooonderful, Damas! I was afraid of not being allowed to take photos inside the museum. I will pay for that extra ticket and take pictures of EVERYTHING! Plus 500 selfies in front of Tutankhamun’s gold mask! By the way, 1,000 more selfies next to the mummy of Tutankhamun!

Well, well, well. I love to see your excitement for Ancient Egypt … but now I have two notes for you.

First, even if you purchase that ticket to take pictures inside, you can’t use your camera or smartphone in the Royal Mummies Room, nor in the crowded room that features Tutankhamun’s mask and other items. And don’t try to take hidden photos. The rooms are monitored very carefully.

The Royal Mummies Room makes our heart race

And secondly, a correction. The mummy of Tutankhamun is not in the Museum of Cairo. You can see him in his own tomb, in the enigmatic Valley of the Kings, Luxor. I’ll show you the mummy and the tomb in great details in this blog. (Yes, the golden mask is in the museum. And it’s the most popular item.)

The exterior of the building

In all my trips, I try to use my camera to capture points of view not frequently seen by the public.

In the case of the Egyptian Museum, we always see the beautiful façade with the main entrance, but rarely other parts of the building and the area (garden) in front of it.

I certainly have some interesting things to show. Have you ever seen papyrus (the plant) and Lotus flower?

Main entrance of the Cairo Museum.
The main entrance.
In front of Cairo Museum
This time, I was with the amazing tour guide Ihab Hamdy. A very exciting day in a group of nice people. (This is a group organized by “Meu Egito“, which means “My Egypt” in Portuguese.)
Another view in the front area of the museum.

Delighting people since 1902

Another view in the front area of the museum.
Another view in the front area of the museum.
Another view in the front area of the museum.
Side area
Side area with statues
Statues in honor of great egyptologists.

Papyrus and Lotus flower

Papyrus in the Cairo Museum
Here it is. PAPYRUS. The source of the famous Egyptian papyri used for writing and drawing.
Lotus flower
Next to the papyrus, we see wonderful flowers like this. Any idea? Egypt is associated to which flower? That’s it: Lotus flower.

Time to finally step into the museum

Box office
Here’s where we purchase tickets.
Entrance queue.
Queue to enter the museum. Oh. Chills. Breathing out of rhythm. Racing heart.

Did you like it?

I’m loving all of this, Damas!

Great! And the photo above reminds you of what? It’s a queue…

It reminds me about the time to FINALLY enter the museum!

Exactly!

So… don’t make me wait more!

Sure!

Water

But … before our very first step into the museum, I warn you about something very important.

There’s no bar inside. And no bar outside. So, go to the Egyptian Museum carrying a bottle of water. A small, easy to carry bottle. Believe me: Except if your visit occurs in Winter, you will want water. In Egypt, we want water, water, WATER all the time.

Inside the museum

Finally, with our bottle of water, let’s start the best part of the day. This is the first sight inside the museum:

Entering the Cairo Museum

Notice that there’s a security check right here. This is good.

Now, we start exploring the two main floors of the museum. Ancient Egypt is right in front of our eyes. All of that for us to see, smell, maybe touch. It’s jaw-dropping. A hypnosis that enriches our culture.

Even when I come back to the museum, I feel like first time. New ways to look at the same items. And, of course, I always discover new things.

This reminds me of…

Three more warnings

Not the entire museum

First: Don’t delude yourself thinking that you will see everything in the museum. With this expectation in mind, you will leave the museum feeling frustrated. Be realist. Nobody can explore the totality of such a huge museum in just one visit. Remember the Louvre Museum. It’s impossible to see everything there in one day.

A good tour guide

Consequently, here comes another warning: only with a good tour guide you will properly explore the Egyptian Museum. That thing is too complex. A spectacular historical richness. Visitors must be guided there. A tour guide knows where to go and make people understand what they see.

Oh, Damas! Very well! And one thing I will certainly see: The gold mask of Tutankhamun!

Of course! All visitors are always super-anxious to see the mask. I believe I can say that it is the greatest star in the museum. There are no words to express my feelings when I see it at just a few centimeters away. I stay there… looking… and looking at it… A hypnosis that lasts for several minutes.

Discoveries

This is beautiful, exciting, but brings to us the third warning: Don’t limit your visit to the area dedicated to Tutankhamun, especially to the room that houses the gold mask.

It happens in this area something similar to what we see in Paris: some tourists visit the Louvre with just the Mona Lisa in mind. They want to go to the great room with the painting, take some selfies and… goodbye. They miss most of the treasures in other parts of the museum. Don’t be like those people. In the Egyptian Museum, Tutankhamun results in the most popular sector of the museum, and I always love to visit it. There’s more appeal there, I know. But explore other parts of the museum and you will have HUGE surprises.

One of the greatest surprises is the Royal Mummies Room. You read this name when I was speaking about tickets. You will need an extra ticket to enter this room, and photos are totally forbidden. But it’s worth the visit. Trust me. For instance, you will see there, face to face (!), the mummy of the powerful Ramesses II and the mummy of the great Hatshepsut.

One more thing. We sh—

Wait. Enough talking! Glauco, where are the PHOTOS? In the beginning of this post, you promised “lots of photos.”  Right?

Right.

Walking inside

Let’s move on!

Inside the Cairo Museum (upper view)
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
A tour guide explains an item in the museum
The tour guide Ihab Hamdy leads a group of tourists.
Mummies
Mummies, mummies, muuuuummiiiieees!

The house of many mummies

Detail of a mummy
Detail of a mummy.
A mummy
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
One of the most famous images from the Ancient Egypt. Right in front of you!
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Mini statue of Khufu
The only image of Khufu you will see in Egypt. It’s made of ivory.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Hold your breath. You see here the viscera of Khufu’s mother.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Alabaster was frequently used by Ancient Egyptians when building statues, tombs, ornaments, temples, etc. Ask your tour guide to use a flashlight to illuminate this tomb from inside (the tomb is just a few steps away from that small statue of Khufu). There is a certain transparency in the alabaster: The stone appears to glow in a reddish-yellow light.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Ramesses II
The mummy of Ramesses II in the Royal Mummies Room. (This photo, exceptionally, is not mine.)
Hatshepsut
The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut in the same room. (This photo, exceptionally, is not mine.)

So… what do you think of all of this so far?

Amazing, Damas! But… until now… nothing about Tutankhamun!

Of course not. This is a clever strategy to keep your attention here.

Tutankhamun

But enough of torture. Let’s finally see the big area dedicated to Tut.

Statue of Tutankhamun
Bust of Tutankhamun.
Throne of Tutankhamun
The main throne of Tutankhamun.
Throne
Tutankhamun’s throne used in religious ceremonies.
Sandals of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun’s sandals. Can you believe this? He put his little feet here! There’s something very curious in this piece. The drawings represent enemies conquered by Tutankhamun. In a symbolic gesture, he steps on his enemies! Would you like to go for a walk using these sandals?
Fan of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun’s fan. The feathers? Ostrich. Would you like to freshen up with this?
Scepter of Tutankhamun
YES, this is what you think. The scepter of Tutankhamun.
Board game
A board game.

Curiosity: the tomb of King Tut, in the Valley of the Kings, was not originally made for him

Alabaster items
Alabaster. Always the popular alabaster. Take a special look at two of these items. First, at left, in the foreground, the candle holder. It is one of the relics found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. I purchased a replica in a store in Luxor. Second, also at left, but in the background, a jar of perfume.
Alabaster jar
Take a closer look at the jar.
Alabaster jar
Unbelievable: The jar is still sealed! With beeswax! Would you like to open this lid to feel the fragrance preserved for thousands of years?
Open alabaster jar
Another jar… but this one is open. Who had the pleasure of smelling the perfume? Oh, I’m so jealous!
Mortuary bed
Tutankhamun’s mortuary bed.
Carriage
Tutankhamun’s carriage.
Box for sarcophagus
The sarcophagus of Tutankhamun was found inside three large “boxes” — one inside the other. This is one of them (opposite side in the next photo).
Dor of the box
The Mask Room
The room with the golden mask
So far, you are walking in a huge area dedicated to Tutankhamun. OK, great, wonderful. But where is the gold mask? You are anxious. Suddenly, you look at your side… and… wait, what’s that room behind the glass? What’s that in the middle of the room?
The golden mask of Tutankhamun
A zoom photo through the window. (Cameras are totally forbidden in this room. Don’t try to be smart here. Hidden photo is not a good idea.) Imagine yourself losing your breath next to THAT! By the way, do not think that the mask is the only item in this room. You will also see other parts of Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus and many of his jewels.

What now? Happy to see all of this?

Damas, I am drooling! Oh. My. God.

I could notice that.

I hope you visit this museum. Tell me later how was your experience.

Wait! Don’t go now. Do you have more photos?

Sure.

More photos

I’m cute and cuddly, so here is the link for my Google Photos album created after one of my visits to the museum:

PHOTOS
Almost 300 photos.
Have fun!

May the Egyptian gods inspire your thoughts! 😉


G. DAMAS
I live in the Algarve (South of Portugal). My first fiction book, for young adults, was published in 2001 in Portuguese language — a time travel adventure that won thousands of readers. I also wrote some travel and tech books and manuals.
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