Did you know that one of the most famous towers in Africa and one of Egypt’s most fascinating tourist attractions is also the tallest structure in North Africa?
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of Cairo Tower facts, one of the most amazing landmarks in Egypt’s capital.
1. It stands on an island near Downtown Cairo
The Cairo Tower, officially known as the “Borg El-Qāhira” and nicknamed “Nasser’s Pineapple,” is a concrete tower located in the Gezira district of Cairo.
This district is located on the south side of a river island called the Gezira Island in the Nile River, right in the heart of the enormous city of Cairo, the capital of Egypt.
2. It’s the most famous modern monument in the city
We all know Egypt is the land of pyramids and temples, built by the Ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago. That’s why the Cairo Tower is considered to be one of the most famous modern monuments in Egypt.
Better yet, many people consider it to be the second-most popular landmark in Cairo after the Pyramids of Giza, which consist of the two biggest pyramids ever built, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Pyramid of Khafre, as well as the iconic Sphinx of Giza.
3. It’s the tallest structure in North Africa
The tower stands 187 meters (614 feet) tall, making it the tallest structure in Cairo and all of Egypt and the tallest structure in all of North Africa.
It’s also more than 40 meters taller than the tallest pyramid in Egypt!
4. It was the tallest structure in all of Africa for a decade as well
One of the interesting Cairo Tower facts is that it also used to be the tallest structure in Africa upon completion in 1961.
It was surpassed by the Hillbrow Tower in South Africa about a decade later. This tower stands 269 meters tall (883 feet).
5. Construction of the tower started in the 1950s
The tower was built by the Egyptian Government and construction started in the year 1956. The tower was completed just 5 years later as it opened its doors on April 12, 1961.
It’s a popular tourist attraction in the city and is home to 5 different restaurants of which one revolves 360 degrees every hour, and an observation deck as well.
6. Its design represents a famous Ancient Egyptian symbol
The concrete tower consists of about 8 million small mosaic pieces stuck to a tubular frame and has a lattice-work design with openings.
This design which was inspired by Ancient Egyptian architecture was chosen to resemble a lotus plant, one of the ultimate symbols of the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.
7. The United States indirectly paid for its construction
One of the most fascinating Cairo Tower facts is that the United States indirectly paid between $1-3 Million USD to build this tower, even though they had something completely different in mind.
In the 1950s, several African Independent movements were started, most prominently the Algerian Revolution which culminated in a war with France. The US Government, through Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA, paid this amount to the President of Egypt at the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser, as a “gift” in an attempt to persuade him to stop his support for the ongoing revolutions.
Unimpressed with this attempted bribery, he directly transferred the money to the Egyptian Government so they could commence the construction of the tower. This means that the tower was financed with money from the USA.
8. The tower was built to expose the attempted bribery
The construction of the tower was basically a big middle finger to the United States Government. Nasser made this clear by stating that:
“The tower will be visible from the US Embassy just across the Nile, as a taunting symbol of Egypt’s, Africa and the Middle East’s resistance, revolutions and pride.”
9. The tower was built by Egypt’s Intelligence Agency
Apart from coming up with the idea for the tower, Nasser didn’t have a big stake in the construction of the tower after that. He left it completely in the hands of Egypt’s Intelligence Agency referred to as the “Mukhabarat.”
They assigned an architect, took care of the design, and managed the construction.
To emphasize the glory of Egypt, the symbol of the country, the Eagle of Saladin was integrated into the main entrance of the tower.
10. It was almost demolished in the 1990s because of a funny nickname
A misunderstanding is at the base of one of the most peculiar Cairo Tower facts because, in the 1990s, it was nearly demolished. A fatwa was even issued by a local Islamic group, urging the tower to be brought down.
Because of its history and the bribery, locals started calling the tower “waqf Roosevelt“, which means”Roosevelt’s endowment.” The US Embassy interpreted this as “waqef Roosevelt,” which means “Roosevelt’s erection.”
The Americans responded by starting to call the tower “Nasser’s prick,” and this didn’t go over too well with some devout Muslims. It’s a little far-fetched, but they actually believed that Egyptian women might start getting aroused by seeing the tower, which is the reason they wanted it to be demolished.
The tower is way too important and popular in Egypt though to be demolished for such a trivial reason, so luckily, these demands were ignored.
11. It offers amazing views from its observation deck
The roof of the tower is located at a height of 160 meters (524.9 feet) and the top floor where the observation deck can be found is located at a height of 143 meters (469.2 feet).
This means that the observation deck offers some of the most amazing views of the immense city of Cairo and its numerous suburbs.
12. It received a serious upgrade between 2006 and 2009
The tower was in urgent need of restoration in the early 2000s and 15 million Egyptian Pounds were spent between 2006 and 2009 to give the tower a serious upgrade.
This upgrade included the installation of 770 external light bulbs which allows the tower to provide an amazing light show for the Cairo skyline!