The removal of Ramses II Statue

The red granite statue of Ramses II now stands before Babul Hadid Train Station down- town Cairo. It is one of the most splendid statues carved for this renowned pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, who lived for 90 years and ruled Egypt for 67 years.

This statue was discovered in 1882, broken into six pieces, in a palm jungle at Mit Rahina village in Saqqara, almost 30km away from the Giza Plateau. All attempts to restore the statue in situ failed until 1954, when it was transported to its current location at Babul Hadid where it was restored and reassembled by inserting iron bars inside the body. The statue of Ramses II soon became one of Cairo's most famous landmarks and a symbol of the ancient Egyptian civilization in the capital city of Egypt, even the square bears his name.
But through out the decades, urban development, housing expansion, traffic congestion, and the increasing rate of pollution in the square has affected the statue. To protect such a great colossus from decay, a decision was made by the Minister of Culture and approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities' Permanent Committee to relocate the statue to the location of the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza Plateau.

Inscription engraved on the statue:
Hieroglyphic texts on the statue give different names and titles of King Ramses II, and it has been translated as follows:
“Horus, the strong bull, the beloved of justice, king of upper and lower Egypt, the strong after Re justice and the chosen by him and the sun's son.”

Researches and studies:
Architectural documentation of the statue was carried out according to the latest technology where 30 million points on the statue's body were highlighted and monitored.
Architectural and geophysical studies carried out on the statue by the Arab Contractors Company revealed the kind of mold used in restoring it when it first arrived in the square in 1954. It also showed the statue's weak points in order to take them into consideration during the statue's transportation.

Technical Report:
According to the technical report, the statue was affected by the bad environmental conditions of the square as it was constantly exposed to the traffic fumes from thousands of cars are passing by everyday and vibrations caused by trains and the underground wagons.
Despite the fact that the statue is carved of a strong material (red granite), studies revealed some problem in the middle of the statue's back and in the area between the two legs which may represent a weak point in the statue. Small fractures were also marked in the same area, but it was restored and missing parts were replaced by similar material brought from Aswan. Radar showed that the iron bars were used to combine the statue's six pieces during its first restoration work along with different types of mold used to plaster and glue the pieces together. Granite shreds were also used to hide the mold and to make the statue to look as if it is one piece.

The transportation plan:
After the completion of sufficient archeological, geological, and architectural studies along with other studies proposing different means of transportation and methods used to dismantle the statue and re-erect it at its new home, a decision was made to remove the statue as it is in one piece. It will be standing inside an iron cage covered with rubber foam and hung on a steel bridge like a pendulum in an attempt to allow the statue to have free movement while the vehicles were travelling over Al-Monib Bridge and descending the small incline.
The statue's exact location at its new home was also established where it will be subjected to a major restoration and preparation to be among the Grand Egyptian Museum exhibition scenario.
After the approval of Farouk Hosni, Minister of Culture, the whole project was then launched in a tender, and the Arab Contractors Company won it. The transportation was scheduled to be executed in six months with a budget of LE 6,223,8800.

The route
The route will start from Ramses square to Al-Gomharyia St., Al- Fagala St., 26th of July St., Soliman Pasha St., Kasr El Nile St., Tahrir square, Al-Kasr Al-Ainee St. ( wrong direction), Nile Courniche, Al-Malek El-Saleh Bridge, Nile Courniche , Al-Mounib Bridge, Al-Mansouriya St., Al-Haram St., Cairo Alexandria road , the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking Giza Plateau (in front of Movenpick Pyramids).

Work implemented:
The Arab Contractors Company has submitted the following studies
• Radar examinations on all parts of the statue
• Architectural studies on the statue and its base
• Studies on the vehicles that will hold the statue during its transportation
• Studies on the truck that will pull the vehicle
• Studies on methods used to lift, upload, and re-erect the statue.

A committee including professors and experts in mechanics, soil, architecture, and restoration has been established to review the whole process to guarantee a safe voyage for the statue from Ramses Square to the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza Plateau. Three trials were implemented to check and experience the weight of the statue on the vehicles, the bridge and the roads. It was necessary to train the engineers and workmen sociologically and technically to prepare for handling the real statue on August 25th. The first two trials took place using limestone, but the third one which was on July 28th was implemented by using a replica statue of the real Ramses II colossus.
In spite of its successful completion, the trial run highlighted some important steps that may have to be taken before the real event. Some trees would have to be cut along the Mansouriya Road, and some pavements along the centre of Qasr Al-Aini Street and the Corniche might have to be removed in order to facilitate Ramses II’s progress on August 25th. Also, one person should be responsible in giving orders during the process and to coordinate with the security and traffic officers in this respect.
A logo of the Supreme Council of Antiquities should be put on the vehicles along with one of the Arab Contractors.

The idea of removing the statue from its current location at Ramses Station was suggested in early 1994 in order to rescue it from the corrosive atmosphere of the busy intersection. Several possible locations were suggested. At first it was thought of taking it to the statue's original home at Mit-Rahina, 30km from the Giza Plateau, but the small Mit Rahina Bridge would not have held the weight of the statue. It was also suggested that it be placed in Giza's Al-Rimayah Square or at the entrance to the Cairo Opera House, but it was feared that in time these sites would provide little better protection from traffic fumes and congestion than Ramses Square.

BACK to The Plateau Homepage