Manasterly Palace Nilometer

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The Nile has often been called the river that decides taxes. Consequently, Cairo, much like Kom Ombo or Aswan’s Elephantine Island in the South, has its own nilometer. This one, however, dates to the 8th century, and the Arab conquest of Christian, Eastern Roman Egypt by the Umayyads – an early Arab dynasty. Located at the bottom tip of Rhoda Island in Cairo, it is part of the Manasterly palace complex. Archaeologists and historians estimate that communities along the Nile valley gauged water levels for over 5,000 years, until the construction of the Aswan High Dam, and the creation of Lake Nasser. The Manasterly palace nilometer, besides being a beautiful example of Islamic-era architecture, is essentially a water level measuring device.

Cairo’s nilometer is far more sophisticated than its ancient, pharaonic counterpart in Aswan, as it consists of a central stilling well lined with a 45-step staircase lining the pit all the way to the bottom. In the middle is a central pillar divided into 19 cubits, and is believed to have been used as the marker for the different water levels. An ideal flood level would have reached all the way up to the 16th cubit, anything more than this would mean destruction of permanent settlements situated usually outside of the Nile’s reach.

The Manasterly palace nilometer is a great day tour if you have a lot of time in Cairo and the surrounding areas. It is a great way to connect with the practicalities of life in Egypt, and the people’s agricultural reliance on the Nile floods no matter who happened to rule Egypt at the time.

  • Watch your step when descending into the stilling well, as there is a lack of railings.
 Admission
  • Nilometer 15 EGP
 ISIC Student Card
  • Discount25-53% 

 Notes
  • Approx. (MIN)25 
  • Manasterly Gardens
  • Stilling Well
  • Central Shaft
  • Islamic Scripts
  • No Railings
  • Decline Guides
  • Shade Available
 Transportation
  • Leisurely walkabout
  • Close to Coptic Cairo
  • Driver will park/wait

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