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People Born in Cairo
Cairo in People's Lives
Agatha Christie: I visited this city with my mother in 1910, and we stayed at the Gezirah Palace Hotel for three months. I attended British society functions, hoping to find a suitable husband, and explored. I used Cairo as the setting of my first novel, though it was rejected by publishers.
Gustave Flaubert: I visited this city during a tour of Egypt in 1849, at the age of 27. I loved Egypt, and among other things, I visited the Coptic Church here, and watched jugglers and acrobats performing in the streets. I was wary, however, of the fearful snake charmers.
Lawrence Durrell: I often found myself in this city, from about 1943 - 1944, working as a press attache to the British Embassy in Cairo.
Liam Neeson: I traveled here to film scenes of the movie Ruby Cairo in 1991. We filmed at the Gayer Anderson Museum.
Napoleon Bonaparte: I marched here with an army from Alexandria in 1798, during my invasion of Egypt. I commanded the Battle of the Pyramids outside this city, which was a major victory. Our win was so enormous that it was made into myth - and was the subject of hundreds of paintings, all depicting the pyramids of Giza in the backdrop. I later said that our battle had been fought as "forty centuries of history" judged us, alluding to the pyramids, though scholars centuries later discovered that it would have been impossible for the pyramids to be in sight during our battle. Nevertheless, it was a decisive and overwhelming victory. The Egyptians surrendered and offered me the keys to the city, and I shortly afterward set up a headquarters here. From this city, I oversaw the occupation and conquering of Egypt. Though I fought the people of this land, my greatest desire was for them to see me as a friend and ally, and I was fascinated with their way of life. I always maintained that my men should be respectful of native culture and religion, and tried to cast myself as a liberator of the common Egyptian citizen in liberating them from the Ottoman Empire. I even gave ostentatious parades and festivals for Muslim holidays, and went to great lengths to provide military protection to pilgrims traveling from Egypt to Mecca. Still, the Egyptian people remained suspicious and unconvinced of my sincerity, and continued attacks and revolts. I turned my attention to making this city a great, modern place of European beauty mixed with Arabian exoticism. I had a French academy built, as well as museums, libraries, a botanical garden, observatory, scientific research laboratories, newspapers, a zoo, and more. I ordered the publication of French-Egyptian dictionaries. A few months later, there was a major revolt, during which many of my leaders were mercilessly slaughtered by angry mobs, and I myself was nearly driven from the city. Disgusted by this behavior but unshaken, I coolly ordered the rebels to be rounded up and driven into a grand mosque in the center of the city. At this time, a large thunderstorm - a rare occurance in Egypt - began, which many of the locals took as a bad omen. I ordered that the mosque in which the rebels were hiding to be destroyed by cannonfire, and the rebels to be massacred. As further punishment, laws were put in place that more strictly regulated Muslim customs, and the city was hit by a crippling tax. There was no further revolt after that, and Cairo was mine. I returned to France, victorious, in 1799, though I left in secrecy without letting my troops know that I was going. There was an uproar after they discovered that I had left, and my replacing general had to assure the men that I was only gone temporarily to restore order.
Viggo Mortensen: I traveled here to film scenes for the movie Ruby Cairo in 1991.