Its nice to be up high in Cairo. It gives one a prospective view of this great city, with it’s very modern and very ancient districts. Anyone who has stood atop the Citadel or from the upper floors of some of the taller hotels is aware of the grand views that Cairo offers.
One of the best views is from the Cairo Tower, located on Gezira Island (Zemalak) just north of the Museum of Modern Art (which is also very much worth a visit), which provides a panoramic vision of Cairo. This 187 meter tall tower, in the form of a latticework tube that fans out slightly at the top, is said to imitate a lotus plant, and ranks only fourth among the worlds highest towers. It is made of granite, the same material often used by the ancient Egyptians, and is about 45 meters taller than the Great Pyramid at Giza.
To the late President Gamal Abdul Nasser, the Cairo Tower was the best place to dine out. He used to go together with his family to dine in the towers restaurant, where there is also a cafeteria. Today, the restaurant rotates at an almost unnoticeable speed. Signatures of all the presidents and various other prominent figures who visited the tower are here in the honoring book and even engraved in the tower’s walls keeping unforgettable memories. But such politicians were not the only ones who loved the tower. In fact, one of its first visitors was Hollywood movie star, Katherine Hepburn, even though the tower had somewhat of a rocky footing back then in Egyptian-American politics. It was actually financed with American funds, but was not exactly what the Americans expected Nasser to do with the money.
Completed in 1961 under the direction of Naum Chebib, some say that the tower is, after the Great Pyramid, Cairo’s most famous landmark. Certainly this tallest of Cairo’s buildings is a highlight of the modern city.
The best time to visit the tower, also known as Borj al-Qahira, is at sunset, when millions of twinkling lights come to life. From here, one can make out on a clear day the easternmost extent of Cairo, where the dark gray buildings run up against the cliff face of the Muqattam Hills. Looking west, the pyramids mark the limits of the city and the start of the desert. Below, the Nile River flows serenely north to the Mediterranean, seeming to slice Cairo in two. To better facilitate the view, there are also telescopes.