Sunday, 6 July 2008

The City of the Dead

Up to half a million people are living in one or the other of Cairo’s cemeteries. Egyptians have a millennia-old affinity to the dead. The necropolises of the Pharaohs have their contemporary counterparts in the cemeteries of the exploding city of Cairo with its supposed 20 million people. While the mausoleums’ guardians with their families have lived here for generations, new dwellers have arrived, homeless and poor, or even mad. The Northern Cemetery is a wonderful, peaceful quarter in the midst of bustling Cairo without any traffic except some donkey carts. There are small restaurants and even a police station.

The cemetery is also home of the beautiful old mosque built by Sultan Qaitbey in the late 15th century. It is depicted on the 1 E₤ bank note.

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