Cairo Sights


Nilometer Review

At the southern end of Rodah Island, al-miqyas (the Nilometer) was used from pharaonic times until the completion of the Aswan Dam in the late 1950s to measure the height of the flood. If the Nile rose above 16 cubits (a cubit is about 2 feet), no flood tax would be levied that year. Needless to say, this was a ceremony that the populace followed with great interest—and if the floods were plentiful, with great celebration.

Built in 861 on the site of an earlier Nilometer, the present structure is considered to be the oldest extant Islamic building (the conical dome is an 1895 restoration). Inside is a shaft that houses the graduated column that served as the measuring device. Outside the structure is a model explaining how it worked.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Southern tip of Rodah Island, Rodah Island, Cairo
  • Cost: £E15
  • Hours: Daily 9–4
  • Location: Coptic Cairo (Mari Girgis)

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