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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 visit in Egypt.

Join me now on a virtual tour. Besides many photos, you will see tips for your visit.

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

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

I’m impressed.

Take my hand and come with me. May the good Egyptian gods be with us.

The unforgettable Museum of Cairo

The building houses 120,000 items — not all in exhibition — since 1902.

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

That’s what I was about to say.

A new museum will open to the public soon to replace the current one. A grand (pharaonic?) project, as the Egyptian Antiquity deserves. But not in Cairo. The new unit is in Giza — part of Greater Cairo. Conveniently, close to the complex of the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. I saw the area, the construction works, and got impressed.

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

Egyptian authorities have postponed the inauguration of this new museum several times. Finally, they confirmed the great opening to the second half of 2020, but Covid-19 ruined the excitement.

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

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

Opening times

The Museum of Cairo opens daily from 9AM to 5PM (box office closing at 4PM).

The new museum is a pharaonic project

The schedule will be different if your visit happens during Ramadan. Local authorities decide the temporary opening times around one month before. You’ll need to check, but I can say the doors will presumably open from 9AM to 3PM.

Tickets

Time to open your wallet!

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

I suppose you will spend a little more, because 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, woooonderful, Damas! I was afraid of not being allowed to use my camera inside the museum. I will pay for that extra ticket and take pictures of EVERYTHING, plus hundreds of selfies in front of Tutankhamun’s gold mask! Oh wait, one thousand 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 buy that ticket to take pictures, 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 take hidden photos, because the staff monitors the rooms.

The Royal Mummies Room makes our heart race

Second, 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 significant details in this blog.

The exterior of the building

I often try to use my camera to capture points of view not commonly known by the public.

When talking about the Egyptian Museum, we always see its magnificent facade with the main entrance, but not other parts of the building and the space (garden) in front of it.

I have some interesting things to show. For instance, 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 famous tour guide Ihab Hamdy. An exciting day in a group of pleasant people. (This is a group organized by “Meu Egito,” which means “My Egypt” in Portuguese language.)
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
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 one. Any idea? People associate Egypt with 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.

I’m loving all of this, Damas!

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

It reminds me to FINALLY enter the museum!

Exactly.

So, don’t make me wait more!

Sure!

Water

Before our very first step into the museum, I warn you about one thing.

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

Inside the museum

Finally, with our 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 here. Good!

Now, we explore 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.

Even when I come back to the museum, I feel like first time. I get involved in fresh ways to look at the same items, and, of course, 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 assumption in mind, you will leave the place feeling frustrated. Be realistic: Nobody can explore the totality of such a vast museum in just one visit.

A [really] good tour guide

Here comes one more warning: An excellent tour guide at your side is the only way to properly explore the Egyptian Museum. That thing is too complex. Visitors need orientation. A tour guide knows where to go and makes people understand what they see.

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

Of course! Visitors are always eager to see that mask. 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, in a hypnosis that lasts for several minutes.

Discoveries

This is exciting, but brings us the third warning: Don’t limit your visit to the section dedicated to Tutankhamun.

It happens in that zone something like what we see in Paris: tourists visit the Louvre with just the Mona Lisa in mind. They want to go to the great room that houses the painting, take some selfies and… goodbye. They miss most treasures in other parts of the museum.

Don’t be like those people. In the Egyptian Museum, explore other sections and you will have HUGE surprises.

One of the greatest surprises is the Royal Mummies Room. You read this name when I talked about tickets. You will need an extra ticket to enter this room, and photos are 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 queen 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, now 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 (made of ivory) of Khufu you will see in Egypt.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Hold your breath, because you see here the viscera of Khufu’s mother.
Inside the Cairo Museum.
Ancient Egyptians used alabaster 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 glows 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.

Tutankhamun

But enough of torture. Let’s visit the extensive zone 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! The drawings represent enemies he conquered in battles. In a symbolic way, he stepped on his enemies! Would you go for a walk using these sandals?
Fan of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun’s fan. The feathers? Ostrich.
Scepter of Tutankhamun
YES, this shining item 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 candleholder is one relic 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
Inspect the jar.
Alabaster jar
Unbelievable: There’s a seal in the jar! With beeswax! Would you open this lid to appreciate 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? I’m so jealous!
Mortuary bed
Tutankhamun’s mortuary bed.
Carriage
Tutankhamun’s carriage.
Box for sarcophagus
Archaeologists found the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun inside three large “boxes” — one inside the other. This is one of them (see the 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 an immense area dedicated to Tutankhamun. OK, great, wonderful. But where is the gold mask? You are anxious. Suddenly, you look at your side and oh, 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 (remember: they forbid cameras in this room). Imagine yourself losing your breath next to THAT! By the way, the mask is not 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 and 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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