On the banks of the Nile in Aswan stands the Old Cataract Hotel, welcoming visitors after three years of closure for comprehensive restoration. As a historical building on Egypt’s Islamic antiquities list, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) closed the Old Cataract in 2008 to restore its building and its archaeological elements.
Mohsen Sayed Ali, Head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department at the SCA, told Ahram Online that the restoration includes the consolidation of all the building’s walls, its domes and wooden ceilings. All the Oriental engravings and Arabesque decorations have been cleaned and restored, together with the mashrabeyas (woodwork windows).
The Old Cataract was built in Victorian style on a hilltop facing the distinguished Elephantine Temple, while Islamic style predominates its interior. The Old Cataract was inaugurated by Khedive Abbas Helmy II in 1899 to a host of aristocratic clientele.
The hotel was always a favourite among the elite during Egypt's colonial period, and with the release of the movie written by Agatha Christie and starring Anthony Shaffer, "Death on the Nile", in 1978, interest in the hotel was hugely revived.