Egypt // Cairo and the Pyramids //

Kerdassa and Harraniyya

The villages of Kerdassa and Harraniyya have no connection with the Pyramids, but tour groups often pay one or both of them a visit. Kerdassa (accessible by microbus from the junction of Pyramids Road with Sharia Mansureya) is where most of the scarves, galabiyyas and shirts in Cairo are made, plus carpets, which are sold by the metre. Although no longer a place for bargains, it’s still frequented by collectors of ethnic textiles, particularly Bedouin robes and veils (the best-quality ones sell for hundreds of dollars).

Guided tours often take in Harraniyya, the site of the famous Wissa Wassef Art Centre (daily 10am–5pm; t 02 3381 5746, w wissa-wassef-arts.com and w wissawassef.com). Founded in 1952 by Ramses Wissa Wassef, an architect who wanted to preserve village crafts and alleviate rural unemployment, the centre teaches children to design and weave carpets, and has branched out into batik work and pottery. The pupils, supervised by Wassef’s widow, daughters and the original generation of students, produce beautiful tapestries which now sell for thousands of dollars and are imitated throughout Egypt. You can see them at work (except at lunchtime, Thurs afternoons and Fri) and admire a superb collection, laid out in a mud-brick museum designed by Hassan Fathy. To reach the Art Centre under your own steam, take a taxi or minibus 4km south along the Saqqara road (Maryotteya Canal, west bank) from Pyramids Road, or bus #335 (hourly) from Midan Giza and get off at Harraniyya.

Read More