At the small town of Esna in Egypt’s Luxor governorate is located Wekalet Al-Geddawy waiting for its visitors after two years of being hidden under scaffolding for restoration and development.
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, U.S. Ambassador in Cairo Jonathan R. Cohen and Luxor Governor Mostafa Alham inaugurated on Sunday the recently restored and developed Wakalet Al-Geddawy, a caravansary built in 1792 to store trade goods and lodge traveling merchants.
The renovation work has been carried out in collaboration with Takween Integrated Community Development and funded by the USAID.
El-Enany expressed his happiness for inaugurating Wekalet Al-Gedday after the completion of its restoration and development, which took two years of hard work, saying the wekala has regained its original charm.
The opening of the Wekalet embodies the ministry’s action to preserve Egypt’s archaeological heritage, revitalize the city’s tourism potential by reviving and opening new tourist attractions, which in turn will be a mean to promote tourism, raise tourism and archaeological awareness and create job opportunities for Esna’s inhabitants, the minister said.
El-Enany said the United States is one of the Ministry’s main partners as several archaeological missions are working all over the country along with the Chicago house in Luxor and the American Research Center in Cairo.
This is not the first time to collaborate with the USAID as it had financed several similar projects in Luxor, Giza, Karnak and Historic Cairo, he noted.
El-Enany announced that visitors can enter the Wekala for free, as the cost will be included in the ticket of the Edna Temple.
US Ambassador Cohen stated, “Over the past 25 years, the United States has contributed more than $102 million to preserving dozens of cultural heritage sites throughout Egypt.”
“We look forward to seeing the tourism industry rebound in Esna and across the country. The United States stands with the people of Egypt as we help to make this happen,” he added
Hisham Samir, assistant tourism and antiquities minister for Projects explains that the development project involved the restoration and consolidation of the Wekala’s foundations, columns, walls, roofs and wooden ceilings, the implementation of internal ground and soil replacement, the restoration of wooden elements such as doors and windows, in addition to the restoration and consolidation of the facade, the installation of a modern lighting system and the development of the general site and facilities.
Wekalet Al-Geddawy features a very beautiful archaeological panorama with the Roman Temple of Esna located beside and the minaret of the ancient mosque, making it a unique model for the rest of Esna's monuments.
It is a commercial facility built by Hassan Bey Al-Geddawy in 1792 AD and was called Al-Geddawy because Hassan Bey took over the Emirate of Jeddah during the reign of Ali the Great in 1184 AH.
The Wekala was built in two floors of mud bricks. On the ground floor there is a group of shops for displaying goods, while the upper first floor was used as a rest house of merchants, and it can be reached through two staircases on the northwestern and northeastern sides. The main facade of the Wekala overlooks the famous temple of god Khnum in Esna temple, and in the middle of the entrance block, which is topped by a pointed arch with three pointed arches inside, and decorated with brick.