Written by Staff Writer
Egypt celebrated the reopening of the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Giza by hosting a ceremony this week. Built between 1871 and 1850, the avenue was one of the country’s chief architectural highlights and a major tourist attraction until the 1960s, when the area of Giza was nationalized.
Its reopening on Saturday, following restoration works carried out by the governmental Central Antiquities Council (CAC), received significant national and international media attention. It was attended by Egypt’s Minister of State for Antiquities, Khaled al-Anani, as well as Supreme Council for Antiquities Chief Zahi Hawass.
The commemorative plaque of the Avenue of the Sphinxes. Credit: Getty Images
“While this day marks another milestone in the efforts to build a brighter future for Egypt, it is a triumph for our people,” Hawass said in a statement provided by the CAC. “As a result of our people’s spirit of social justice, Egypt possesses an ancient civilization second to none. We must celebrate this great achievement and hope that it will prove to all that Egypt is a land of the desert and of the desert people.”
Hawass was one of the top figures at the press conference. Credit: iStock
“The rebirth of this avenue represents Egypt’s transition from a highly centralized to a modern and democratic state,” Hawass continued. “This corridor has become a rallying point for a second identity for Egypt, one that fits in modern times. The Avenue of the Sphinxes signifies a second identity for the Egyptian nation.”
In addition to Hawass, the highest authority within the Egyptian antiquities community, several Egyptologists took part in the ceremony.
“The Avenue of the Sphinxes is a symbol of our [Egyptian] civilization, its evolution and its return to this esteemed city, which is a symbol of modernity and progress,” explained former museum director Zahi Hawass.
Egypt restores the Maya Tinnen Cultural Center. Credit: Courtesy Egypt Antiquities Ministry
The restoration of the Alley of Giza has been an important priority for the CAC, particularly since the operation forced the closure of one of the biggest and oldest collections of antiquities in Egypt.
The surrounding area of the museum houses two remaining scenes from the ancient city of Hattah, which dates back to around 2,500 BC, in addition to three mausoleums and a wooden building built by a villager to keep his livestock in winter.
“When we installed the framework of the archway, I could not even imagine how the modern world would transform and how the museum would look like and how much the structure would change and how it could accommodate visitors,” Hawass said, recalling his early impressions upon inspection of the site.
Last year, a second phase of the restructuring work was completed, creating a new entrance from the east side of the reconstructed Avenue of the Sphinxes.