American Egyptomania Search

From West Africa to Palestine

Freetown: Manchester, 1873

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Art & Architecture

tion by that of St. Paul's in London. Everyone we found in the mosque was kneeling, and going through the numerous prayers and prostrations with his face turned to the east. The ignorant Mussulmans here insist that no worship is acceptable which is not offered with the face turned to the rising sun; while, in Syria, professors in the same faith contend that the worshipper is disdained who does not in his devotions turn his face towards the south. I suppose that the pious of the sect in Persia would insist upon a westward aspiration; while those in Mozambique would believe in a divine afflatus from the north. And so it goes. I wonder what would be the result of a comparison of notes by earnest and bigoted devotees from directly opposite points of the compass. Of course, the intelligent among the Mohammedans know that the principle is that the face of the worshipper, wherever he is, must be turned towards Mecca, their holy city, as of old the Jews prayed towards Jerusalem.

After looking around the interior of the building, and at the tomb of Mohammed Ali, we went out and had a view of Cairo from the citadel, said to be one of the finest views in the world. From this elevation, through the dry, clear atmosphere of Egypt, the greater portion of the city is distinctly seen. The numerous large and striking buildings, patches of beautiful green, with clusters of palm trees and sycamore, white domes of mosques and shining minarets in every direction, present an appearance not to be described. The view to the west is very extensive and grand, giving, beyond the limits of the present city, the site and remains of old Cairo, of Fostat; then the broad, placid Nile, flowing through a wide verdant plain, fertilized by its waters. Further off, at a distance of six miles, are seen the great pyramids of Gizeh, and the smaller pyramids of Abusir and Sakarah, all lying in the Libyan desert, and bounded by the range of the Libyan hills, sloping gradually down to the Delta of the Nile. Thus the greatest structure of ancient Egypt, and one of the finest and most costly of modern Egypt, face each other.

From the citadel we visited "Joseph's Well", said to have been dug by Joseph during his rule in Egypt. It is remarkable for its great depth and the abundance of good water which it constantly supplies. There is a passage at the side by which visitors may go down to the bottom. We ventured about a hundred feet down, and as we were told that we were not then half way to the bottom, we looked through an opening in the side at the heights above and the depths beneath, and we thought it best to retrace our steps. From the "Well of Joseph" we visited the mosque of Sultan Hassan,