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Mausoleum of Egypt's 1919 revolution leader Saad Zaghloul is, in fact, open




Entrance of Zaghloul's mausoleum featuring Pharaonic symbols of the god Horus (upper) and the goddess Nekhbet (lower). (Photo: Hannah Porter)

The doors to the mausoleum are wooden and coated in copper. The door handles are large cobras. (Photo: Hannah Porter)

Pharaonic symbols such as scarab beetles and cobras decorate the doors to the mausoleum. (Photo: Hannah Porter)

Eastern entrance to Zaghloul's mausoleum in downtown Cairo's Mounira neighbourhood. (Photo: Hannah Porter)

A view of the burial vault containing famous Egyptian revolutionaries Saad and Safiya Zaghloul. (Photo: Hannah Porter)

Ceiling of Zaghloul's mausoleum featuring winged sun disks, a pharaonic symbol of the god Horus Behdety. (Photo: Hannah Porter)

Eastern entrance to Zaghloul's mausoleum in downtown Cairo's Mounira neighbourhood. (Photo: Hannah Porter)
The neo-Pharaonic building was constructed in the 1930's by famous Egyptian architect Mostafa Fahmy.
 

In 1936, former prime minister and beloved revolutionary Saad Zaghloul was interred there nine years after his death in 1927.

The site, which is located across the street from his historic home, is - despite popular belief - open to the public on weekdays with an entrance fee of three pounds.

Zaghloul fought to end British control of Egypt and his sincerity and uncompromising attitude won him support and inspired activism across the country. In 1919, he formed the nationalist liberal Wafd party and led a delegation to the Paris Peace Conference to demand that the United Kingdom recognise Egypt's sovereignty.

The Wafd's demands were not met and this transgression did not go unpunished, as the British soon exiled Zaghloul to Malta and later to the Seychelles.

Those who spoke out in support of Zaghloul during his exile risked being arrested by the British forces.

Legend has it that in order to promote the national hero's cause while also avoiding imprisonment, the famous Egyptian musician Sayed Darwish wrote a song called Zaghloul Dates (a variety of red dates common in Egypt) to surreptitiously praise the revolutionary.

Zaghloul's exile may have had the opposite effect of what the British intended; within days after his forced removal, the Revolution of 1919 broke out with millions of Egyptians from every social sphere protesting Zaghloul's exile and British rule. The upheaval and subsequent negotiations finally pushed the British government to end the country's protectorate status and Egypt was granted nominal independence on 28 February 1922.

Following the drafting of the 1923 constitution, Wafd won parliamentary elections in a landslide, and Zaghloul became the first prime minister in a democratic Egypt. He remained in power throughout 1924, three years before his death.

Saad Zaghloul is not the only occupant of this historic mausoleum. His wife, Safiya Zaghloul is buried there as well. An essential figure in the Revolution of 1919, Safiya was a political activist and feminist at the center of the Wafd party after her husband's exile and remained active in the party until its split in 1936.

Story by Hannah Porter