Northern Cemetery

Walking through the Northern Cemetery, where the most famous and ornate graves lay in the City of the Dead.

DSC_0733The cages on the top are pigeon houses, a common cheap food source for Egyptians. The garbage collected at the bottom is sadly not a uncommon scene.DSC_0653Behind the gate and walls, this is what the top layer of a tomb looks like. The sand pit is dug out to reveal stairs leading to a crypt where the bodies are buried. In this crypt there are two parts: one for women and one for men. The bodies are laid down in the crypt, their heads are turned towards mecca, only covered by a white cloth and little bit of sand. When the crypt is reopened for the next burial the bones are collected and swept to the side to make more space for the next generations. DSC_0715Most of the family tombs are locked and private and people wrap the locks with plastic so they don’t rust and they can tell when someone was there last. Inside there may be potted plants and a small room to serve as a resting place for visitors. Here they can drink tea and store tools. These rooms are what ended up being transformed into houses and started the phenomenon of “living in the cemetery.”DSC_0645The most common greenery in the cemetery is desert plants like eucalyptus trees, cacti, and this aloe vera plant. DSC_0692These are grave markers- not to be confused with tombs even though they have a similar shape- and they are for the less wealthy or less important that cannot afford the private gated crypts that you see in the surroundings. There is a group crypt for all of the families and the entrance is somewhere among them covered with sand, only to be opened for a new burial. DSC_0705A small kiosk in the cemetery where you can buy everything from water to groceries. It is off one of the main streets in the cemetery where you can see a car bringing material that may be for some of the people living here. DSC_0842A man spinning silk in a silent open road between the tombs. DSC_0851These kids begged for their photo to be taken. They are actually quite photogenic and some of them have mastered some poses. DSC_0907Apartments that have been built up between the tombs. DSC_0727Remnants of political posters plastering the walls in the cemetery. DSC_0902This special grave marker is cared and looked after by a family that lives next door. They clean it and guard it, and keep the roof above to protect it from rain and dust. In order to visit one pays the family a small tip to come inside (called baksheesh).DSC_0880Inside the former royal family’s mausoleum. You can see the ornate gold and enamel designs. It is modern but an indication of what the older mausoleums might have looked like before they were looted, raided, and eventually decayed.

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