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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Orientation to Cairo

It occurred to me that some of my readers may not have been to Cairo and could use an introduction to the area to help in reading some of my current entries.

Here is a map of the greater Cairo area: (Click to enlarge)

The red line is the "Ring Road" a 68 mile long beltway that circles the Cairo metropolitan area. With three lanes marked in each direction it moves traffic quite well unless there is congestion - which is frequent.

Now it might look to you like the red line doesn't quite form a ring. You are right! The ring road simply stops there at the lower left part of the map. This is because UNESCO decided that completing the ring would endanger the pyramids. You can, in fact drive out to the end of that southern part of the ring. It looks like this:

It might look to you like there are a couple of vehicles driving over the sand on the left edge of this picture. Again, you are right. Since the ring road does not go through, Cairo drivers simply drive out into the desert as they head west where the road would have been built. At rush hour, the traffic on this narrow stretch of desert trail is simply unbelieveable. Meek drivers should not attempt it!

The failure to close the ring also put impossibly heavy traffic onto the two local roads that run northwest to southeast close to the pyramids. Both of these roads run along canals. There is now a project underway to "close the ring" by building a stretch of the ring road freeway as an elevated highway above the Merioteya canal. Here is a picture of that project:

We have an excellent view of the project as it runs right in front of our apartment building and is scheduled for completion this year.

To help you judge the distances on the map, it is about eight miles from the pyramids to downtown and about ten miles from downtown out to the airport. This eighteen mile journey can take anywhere from about a half hour to two hours depending on traffic.

Most of our time here is spent in these places

  • The area near the Giza Pyramids

  • Along the two roads that run from Giza Square to the Giza Pyramids. Pyramids Road and Faisal Street

  • Downtown, not too far from the Cairo Museum

  • About two miles due west of Downtown near the Khan El-Khalili and Islamic Cairo

  • Nasr City (Medinet Nasr)

  • At the Carrefour Mall in Maadi

For a map with a lot of detail of the central part of the city, follow this link

UPDATE 2/2/09
Here is a picture taken near sunset of the dust arising from the non-existent extension of the Ring Road beyond its official end.

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