of Cairo. MA'SARA. 4. Route. 389
Quarries of Turra and Baths of Heluan.
Railway on the right bank of the Nile (opened in 1877) in 1/2-3/ihr.;
1. cl. 21/z fr.
The Baths of Heluan are situated about I41/2 M. to the S. of Cairo.
The route is interesting, especially in returning and in the evening, when
the lights and shades on the Mokattam Hills (p. 321) are very pictures¬
que. The excursion may be made on the back of a donkey (5-7 fr.; a
good animal should be selected) in 3V2-4V2 hours. A sum of 50-70 fr.
is demanded for a carriage, which requires an extra horse to drag it
through the sand, and is liable to frequent stoppages.
The new railway on the right bank, which was constructed
mainly for the purpose of connecting the great military establish¬
ments at Turra with the Citadel, runs round the town, between
the Citadel (on the right) and the Mokattam (on the left), through
a deep cutting. The new passenger station is to be constructed at
the S. end of the town, in or near the Place Me'hemet Ali. The
line then skirts the base of the Mokattam, on the slopes of which
are the interesting ruins of a mosque, and traverses the burial-
ground of the Mamelukes (p. 313). To the right lies the oldest
part of Cairo, which was erected during the supremacy of the Tu¬
lunides (end of 9th cent.), with the Mosque of Tulun (p. 263).
On the same side we next observe the Necropolis of Imam Shafe'i
(p. 313), beyond which is the valley of the Nile, with the various
groups of pyramids rising above it (p. 390).
Before reaching stat. Basdtin , a village situated in one of the
angles of a triangular piece of arable land which extends a con¬
siderable way into the desert, we perceive the Jewish burial-ground
on the left, and, farther on, the broad Wadi et-Tih (p. 325), which
separates the Mokattam range from the Gebel Turra. Traversing a
tract of desert sand, the line approaches the Nile, where large mil¬
itary establishments and gunpowder mills have recently been
erected. To the right, on the Nile, is the monastery Der el-Geber,
and on the left are the Quarries of Turra (see p. 392). On the
hill stand the ruins of an old fort. Stat. Ma'sara, a village on the
Nile, is noted for the slabs of stone obtained in the neighbourhood,
known as 'palattes', and used for paving purposes in almost every
house of the better class in Egypt. From this point we may visit
the quarries of Turra, which yielded material for the construction
of the ancient temples, and are still worked. Their entrances in
the rocks are visible from the railway. The ride thither occupies
Y2 hi., but it is more convenient to visit them from Heluan
(IY2 hr.), where good donkeys are more easily obtained.
Beyond stat. Ma'sara the line skirts the slopes of the Gebel Turra,
and after ascending a considerable incline, reaches the plateau on
which the Baths of Heluan are situated.
Heluan, an artificial oasis in the desert, 3 M. from the Nile,
consists of a few villas, a hotel, and a bath-house, and presents a
very dull appearance. The vegetation around it is still very scanty,
but as the fertilising water of the Nile is pumped up for the pur-