of Cairo. TURA. 4. Route. 405
Helwan, an artificial oasis in the desert, 3 M. from the Nile,
belongs to the Egyptian government, and is placed under the super¬
intendence of M. Grand-Bey, who is represented at the place itself
by M. Onsy. The medical inspector is Dr. Engel, a German. In
spite of the disadvantages of its situation, which necessitate the
bringing from a distance of drinking water, provisions, and even
garden mould, Helwan has hitherto had a very prosperous existence,
especially since it came into the hands of the government in 1880.
It still, however, presents a dull and new appearance, and the
vegetation around is still very scanty. Visitors who have come to
Egypt for their health are strongly recommended not to remain in
Cairo, but either to go on at once to Upper Egypt or to pass the
winter in Helwan, where, besides the baths, they enjoy the advant¬
ages of perfect quiet and a remarkably pure and dustless atmosphere
(comp. p. 67).
The sulphur springs, which were also probably used in ancient
times, resemble those of Aix in Savoy in their ingredients. In 1871
they were utilised for sanatory purposes by Dr. Reil, by order
of Khedive Isma'il. The principal springs are covered in. The
bath-house for Europeans contains fourteen cabinets, for warm and
tepid baths, shower-baths, and inhalation. There is also a basin
containing water strongly impregnated with sulphur, 5-6Y2 ft.
deep, and 1200 sq. yds. in area. The interior of the Khedive's
bath-house may also be inspected.
Near the sulphur springs, especially those situated farther to
theW., which are still uncovered, a quantity of flint splinters have
been found, the largest of which are now in the museum at Bulak
(comp. p. 370). The banks of the Nile afford good wild-fowl shoot¬
ing, but the desert game is shy and not easily reached.
The subterranean quarries of Ma'sara and Tura, which are
still worked, yielded the stone used in the construction of the Pyra¬
mids. A visit should be paid to these vast caverns, if time permit.
The ride thither from Helwan takes llfa hr.; candles and matches
should not be forgotten. The stone is transported to the bank of
the Nile by means of tramways, carts, camels, and mules.
These immense quarries are hardly less imposing than the Pyr¬
amids themselves, for which they afforded material. The Arabs make
very poor miners, as they dread the darkness of shafts and pits.
They quarry the stone on the outside of the rocky slopes only, while
the quarrymen of the Pharaohs penetrated into the interior of the
mountain and excavated large chambers, tunnelling their way
until they came to serviceable stone, and leaving the inferior
untouched. The roofs of the rock-halls, which are of different sizes,
are supported by pillars of rock left standing for the purpose. A
few remains of hieroglyphics and coloured basreliefs are still pre¬
served in the quarries, but they are of no historical value. During
the construction of the rail way in 1875 a number of sarcophagi