Friday, September 26, 2014

The Great Vist the Great Pyramids



Asalamu Alaykom,

Living next to the Great Pyramids means that I am where many of the world's greatest have been.  Although I'm sure there are more world leaders and famous celebrities who have visited the Pyramids, this is a good start.  I will add more when I find more.





Herodotus

450 BCE

He listened to his local travel guides for information about the Pyramids.  What he wrote can't be taken as absolute truth.  However, Herodotus is famous for being the first travel writer on Egypt.




Alexander the Great

331 BCE




When Alexander sailed the Nile on his way to Memphis (modern-day Sakara), he passed by the Pyramids.  The white limestone outer covering would have still been in place making it even more of an amazing sight--especially when the rays of the sun glinted off it.  There is only one remnant of this layer which you can see on the top of the Kafre pyramid



Caliph Al Mamoun
820 AD

Not content with simply looking at the Pyramids, he tunneled in as he thought he would find treasure.



Napoleon Bonaparte

1798


At the Battle of the Pyramids, the French commander is said to have told his troops, "Soldiers, forty centuries look down on you from these Pyramids."

The legend of French troops shooting off the Sphinx's nose is false.  Sketches made in 1737 show that the nose was missing long before Napoleon's cannons showed up.  

What really happened?  Well, there's another legend dating from 1378 that a Muslim man, Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, discovered that locals were making food offerings to the Sphinx.  His literal defacing of this idol is said to have broken off the nose.  True or not, that's as far as we can delve into history's first nose job.




Queen Victoria's son
King Edward VII
for his "Tour of the East" while serving as Prince of Wales

March 5, 1862

The 20-year-old prince is seated on the third standing camel from the left.  Francis Bedford was the photographer on the "Tour of the East" and the first official photographer ever on a Royal tour.





'We then proceeded on the dromedaries (not at all an unpleasant mode of conveyance) to the celebrated Pyramids of Ghizeh - They quite exceeded my expectations, & are certainly wonderful mementoes of our forefathers. We visited the Sphinx just before sunset, which is also very curious and interesting. We had a charming little encampment just below the Pyramids where we slept for the night' 

(Prince of Wales' diary, 4 March 1862).




He created some of the first photographs of important Christian and Muslim sites in Egypt (and for him to have been granted permission to them is a small miracle).



The trip also included the Holy Land, Syria, Turkey and the Mediterranean.  The collection of photographs were then compiled into a folio.  




Historians regard his efforts as some of the most important Middle Eastern photographs of the time.  It certainly was the pinnacle of his career.


Read more about the trip here and more about the photographs here

To see more Tour of the East photographs go here




Sherlock Holmes creator
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Winter, 1895-6

The author had just killed off his fictional detective in the story "A Study in Scarlet" but he was busy trying to keep his wife alive.  Louise had tuberculosis and the Swiss air hadn't cured her.  They were trying the sunny desert weather next to the Pyramids during the winter instead of bitter cold Britain. 

Their residence was at the Mena House Hotel, which still stands to this day and is a must-see (if not for an overnight then at least for a meal). Click here if you're interested more on the Mena House Hotel history.  

This photo is reported to be the author on a donkey in 1907 with his second wife Jean (as nothing was able to cure his first wife).  For more information go to The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.



U.S. President 
Theodore Roosevelt

1872

Young Theodore, 14, is taken to Egypt by his father "Thee" on a trip to Europe and the Middle East.


1910



1910

Theodore Roosevelt was a young 50 years old when he was done with his official duties as president.  He took an African journey and along the way gathered specimens of plants and animals.  Of course, the killing of wildlife wasn't really such a great idea but the Smithsonian Museum taxidermied the kills.


"Kermit" mentioned in the cartoon was his son and the official photographer for the African journey.  It was Kermit, 21, who took this  photo of the Great Pyramid.





The former president also addressed the General Assembly of Cairo University and you can read more that here.





Shapers of Nations
Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell, 
and T.E. Lawrence "of Arabia"

1921

The Cairo Conference was to map out the Middle East according to British sensibilities.  You can read more about the momentous meeting here. You can also read more about Gertrude Bell's fascinating role as "The Woman Who Invented Iraq".







Life Photographer
Margaret Bourke-White

1940

I could literally cry.  Margaret Bourke-White is one of my heroines!  She was a fearless photographer and to think that she was in this spot makes me smile.  Great photo too of British troops marching through.



The way she sets up her shots are just amazing.  Look at her lines!  Everything is so right and you know she only had a second to create the focal point as she envisioned.




U.S. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt

1943 and 1945

FDR did travel to Egypt twice but whether or not he viewed the Pyramids I have yet to find out.  If he did visit, then he would have been the first sitting president to tour them (as the other Roosevelt president was not in office during his visits).






Advertising Photographer and
Original "Madman"
Bert Stern

1952

His image of a glass with the Pyramid reflected inside for Smirnoff's "The Driest of the Dry" became an iconic ad photo in 1962.  It was so successful that Smirnoff vodka went from selling 100,000 cases a year to 10 million.

Bert Stern is also famous for photographing the last sitting with Marilyn Monroe--two months later she would be dead.









Louis Armstrong 
with wife Lucille

January 28, 1961







Soviet Cosmonaut
Yuri Gargarin
The First Human Being into Space

1962




Read more about Yuri's achievements and his death at age 34 here.




Egyptian Singing Legend
Umm Kulthum

19??





In 1999, to celebrate the end of the millenium, Umm Kulthum's portrait was projected onto the Pyramids as part of a two-hour show.  We should all be so lucky!





U.S. President
Richard M. Nixon and 
First Lady 
Pat Nixon
with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and First Lady Jehan

June 12-14, 1974




It is a completely different scene of the same occasion when shot in black and white by Swiss photographer Rene Burri.





The Grateful Dead
in the first rock concert ever permitted at the Pyramids

September 17, 1978

more photos  here





Peter Ustinov 
as "Hercule Poirot"
in Death on the Nile

1978


Mia Farrow
as "Jackie"
in Death on the Nile

1978








U.S. President 
Jimmy Carter and 
First Lady
Rosalynn Carter
with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and First Lady Jehan

1979

This photo was taken a year after signing the Camp David Peace Agreement.  Carter has made three presidental visits to Egypt and more after leaving office.





Monty Python's
Michael Palin
for his TV Show "Around the World in 80 Days"

1988




Diana Princess of Wales

May 12, 1992

Diana traveled alone to Egypt that year.  Four years later, in August of 1996, she would be divorced from Prince Charles.  The following year, she left this earth along with the Egyptian man she loved.




















U.S. President
Bill Clinton and 
First Lady
Hiliary Rodham Clinton 
with First Lady Suzanne Mubarak

October 25, 1994






Omar Sherif and 
Kate Maberly
for the IMAX movie "Mysteries of Egypt"

1998





Bollywood Superstars
Shah Rukh Khan
and Kajol
for their movie Kabhi Khushi Kabie Gham...

Fall, 2000

These two are my favorite Bollywood stars; they make a great cinematic couple.




What great colors!

See their video for the song Suraj Hua Madham but be forewarned that it is as hot as the sizzling sand at noon.





Thanks to Bollywood Presents for all their information on Indian movies shot in Egypt.


Sting
in the third rock concert ever permitted at Pyramids

April, 2001
more info here



British Prime Minister
Tony and Cherie Blair
with Zahi Hawass

December, 2001


There was quite a controversy over their visit.  You can read more here.  It is interesting that Tony Blair always speaks so favorably about the Egyptian regime in power--maybe because he was once treated so royally by them.






Russian President
  Vladimir Putin

April 27, 2005








First Lady
Laura Bush
May 23, 2005




Her father-in-law George H.W. Bush traveled to Egypt's capital in 1990 during the Persian Gulf crisis but her husband George preferred Sharm el-Sheik for his three meetings.







Justin Beiber
Shakira
with Zahi Hawass

March 28, 2007






Shia LaBouf
with the movie Transformers

October 17, 2008


Read more here.




The special effect result:





Jeffery Katzenberger,
Ben Stiller and Chris Rock
with Zahi Hawass

December, 2008








U.S. President
Barak Obama
with Zahi Hawass

June 4, 2009






Salma Hayak 
and family
with Zahi Hawass

November, 2009

read more here




Beyonce

2009

Wow, seems like Beyonce stirred up a sandstorm when she came to view the Pyramids.  The diva was apparently late and this caused some ire in ol' Zahi Hawas, a.k.a. the renowned Egyptologist in all of these photos.  






He is reported to have said that she was, "stupid and rude," and that he banished her from the Land of the Dead.  I guess there may have been two divas at the Pyramids that day!

Read more here.

I don't know where the truth lies.  Allahu alim; God alone knows.

What I will say is that her photos at the Pyramids were the best in all the celebrity shots of I saw.  




She is effortlessly gorgeous next to the sites.  Mashahallah!






Karl Pilkington
for Sky 1's An Idiot Abroad travel program
created by Ricky Gervais

2009




To see Karl at the Cairo Museum and then the Pyramids watch the video below:




Other escapades include walking through Khan Khalili, eating camel and eating at a deaf KFC in Cairo.  




Absolutely Fabulous
Joanna Lumley
for her show Joan Lumley's Nile

2010







Read more here.




Mariah Carey
for her concert

May 17, 2010

A power surge started an electrical fire at her feet right before she was to start.  Quick thinking Mariah put out the flames with a towel.







Paris Hilton

June 3, 2010


Kylie Minogue
in concert

October 22, 2010










French actress
Juliet Binoche

November 30, 2010






Michael Jackson
2010

I know you are trying to remember when exactly Michael Jackson died.  Wasn't it before 2010?  And, though he did lighten his skin, you don't remember him this white, right?

Well, it's all going to make sense when I tell you that Michael Jackson is the name of the camel.  Apparently, his moniker is a big hit with tourists who place his pic all over the internet.






Ashton Kutcher and 
Demi Moore

December, 2010





Sean Penn 
with Egyptian Actor Khaled El Nabawy

2011







Vin Diesel

2011








Jean Claude Van Damme

2011

read more and see video here





Angelina Jolie
Brad Pitt

June, 2012









First Black Miss America and Entertainer
Vanessa Williams

June 14, 2012



It is no mistake that the chronicle ends in 2012.  Really, there have not been many visitors to this Last Remaining World Wonder and that's too bad.  With 2015 fast approaching, let's all hope that there will be more safety, security and sanity in Egypt and that travelers will once again feel like booking tickets here.  Once you make the journey and reach this incredible place, you don't have to be famous to feel like you're a superstar.