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
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
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
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 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).
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
• 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
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