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Monday, March 9, 2015

Ramses Station, Some History

When I began the previous post about our visit to Ramses Square, I Googled the square and checked out the Wikipedia entry.  I am rarely disappointed by Wikipedia results - but this time I was greatly disappointed.  I guess we'll have to do it ourselves.

Ramses Square is named for the giant statue of Ramses II that stood in the square for some fifty years beginning in 1956.  But the story actually begins a hundred years before that.

Egypt's first railroad connected Alexandria to Cairo in 1856.  A station was built in the square, known as Bab Al Hadid and served the city until 1892.  At that time a "modern" station in traditional Arab architectural style was constructed to serve as a grand entrance to Cairo.  You can trace its history up until recent times via postcard photos.


Until the 1910-15 era, the platform end of the station appears to be open.

By the 1930s the facade of the entire long side seems to have gained a good deal more texture.
A major remodeling of the station took place about 1955.  At that time the statue of Ramses II was brought to the square which was then officially named Ramses Square.

The combination of Cairo air pollution and vibration from the underground metro station took its toll on Ramses.  In 2006, the statue was moved, via slow truck, out to the site near the pyramids where the new Grand Egyptian Museum is being slowly built. (The museum cornerstone was laid in January of 2002.)

Since Ramses never did anything on a small scale, there were multiple large statues of him at the Great Temple of Ptah in Memphis where this one came from.  It has an identical twin, and that is the one still found in a horizontal position at the small open-air museum at Memphis.
RamsesMemphis-1 RamsesMemphis-3

The best pictures of the vertical Ramses, and its move are found at this link to the always reliable Tour Egypt Site. 

When the railway station remodel was completed in 2011, not everyone was satisfied, of course.  But in comparison to other alternatives, it seems to have had a good outcome.  There is an imaginative hypothetical reconstruction shown at this link by an architecture student.  He would have moved most of the operation underground, connecting with the Metro.

The train station was featured in a 1958 movie, Cairo Station.  It seems to have good reviews, is available here and possibly on YouTube but doesn't show up on a search on Netflix.






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