Qasr El Nil Bridge is also routinely called Kasr El Nil Bridge, and it essentially connects Cairo’s famous Tahrir Square with the Cairo Opera House complex on Gezira Island. Even if this bridge is not mentioned or featured in our Cairo tour packages, you will almost certainly see it during your stay in Cairo.
Apart from the bridge itself being a very popular place to visit, it is also home to four of the most photographed Cairo tourist attractions: the 4 Lions of Ksar El Nil Bridge. These are four giant lion statues made from bronze, two of which are located on both ends of the bridge.
The bridge was completed and subsequently opened in 1933, and has a total length of 1,932 meters. One of the biggest challenges was to include a 67-meter-long section which could be opened electronically in a very timely manner in order to allow ships to pass.
Apart from its primary use as a bridge across the Nile, it is also a spectacular viewpoint, and it is also very popular amongst people who just want to enjoy a bit of a walk. Many young Egyptians also visit the bridge with their partners for an inexpensive outdoor date.
Qasr El Nil Bridge – A Brief History
Qasr El Nil Bridge was by no means the first bridge in the area. The first bridge to span the Nile in the area was built between 1869 and 1871, and was then opened for traffic in 1872.
It was a barely more than a narrow causeway made from iron, but it did serve the purpose for which it was intended.
The building of the original bridge was also quite a controversial undertaking because for thousands and thousands of years people had to cross the river by boat. Quite understandably, ferry owners and feluka boat owners were concerned about all the revenue they would lose.
However, there were even more people who favored the bridge and the fact that they could now cross the river whenever they chose to.
In 1913 the original bridge was given a substantial facelift and an upgrade, but by 1930 it was simply no longer capable of coping with the ever-increasing number of vehicles in and around Cairo. At this point, the decision was made to dismantle the bridge and replace it with a much bigger and better bridge, and so Qasr El Nil Bridge was born.
After the bridge was completed, it was named the Khedive Ismail Bridge, in honor of King Fuad’s father. However, following the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, the bridge’s name was officially changed, as were the names of numerous roads, bridges, buildings, and etc.
The contract for building the bridge was awarded to a British company by the name of Dorman, Long & Co. Limited of Middleborough based in Yorkshire, England. This company had by that time already gained an excellent international reputation regarding high-quality steelwork construction. At the time, this same company was already busy constructing another bridge, the now famous Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia.
Nearly all of the equipment and hardware that was needed for the construction of Qasr El Nil Bridge was imported for Briton, along with just over 3,700 tons of steel which was needed for making the bridge, all of which was imported from Middleborough Steel Works, another British company also based in Yorkshire, England.
Dorman, Long & Co. Limited of Middleborough were given just 30 months to complete the bridge. The late King Fouad laid the foundation stone on the 4th of February 1931, and the Qasr El Nil Bridge was officially inaugurated on the 6th of June 1933, just 15 months after the inauguration of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
The Lions of Kasr El Nil
The giant lion statues which stand guard at either end of the bridge were originally going to be sent to stand guard next to a statue of Muhammad Ali Pasha in Alexandria, but it was later decided that they should instead be installed at Qasr El Nil Bridge.
They have been guardians of the bridge ever since they were installed in 1933, and have gone on to become some of the most photographed monuments in Cairo.
Ironically, for several decades, it was illegal to take photographs of any bridges in Cairo, and as a result, many unsuspecting tourists found themselves being arrested for taking photos of the Lions of Kasr El Nil. Today, however, everyone is welcome to take as many photos as they want.
The Qasr El Nil Bridge in itself is not really what one would classify as a tourist attraction as such, but it nevertheless continues to attract an almost endless number of visitors, most of whom visit the bridge just to enjoy the spectacular views, and of course, to photograph the Lions of Kasr El Nil.
Considering the bridge’s close proximity to Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum, we would certainly recommend visiting the bridge if you are going to be in the area anyway.
Visiting the Qasr El Nil Bridge
However, many of our tours include a visit to the Egyptian Museum, and from there it is only a short stroll to the bridge where you will be greeted by two of Egypt’s most famous and most loved lions.