Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1342, (27 April - 3 May 2017)
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1342, (27 April - 3 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Rommel Cave to reopen

The Rommel Cave Museum in Marsa Matrouh is to reopen to the public within the next two months after almost seven years of closure, reports Nevine El-Aref

Rommel Cave to reopen

Holidaymakers in the Marsa Matrouh governorate on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast will have more to enjoy than the sun, sand and sea next summer. They will also be able to explore the Rommel Cave Museum, the place where German army field marshal Erwin Rommel, the so-called “Desert Fox”, hid in the area’s cliffs and planned German military operations against the British during World War II.

Rommel was one of Germany’s leading field commanders in World War II, and he was famous for his battle tricks, courage, determination and leadership. He fought the 12-day Battle of Alamein against the British from 23 October 1942, only to retreat on 4 November in the face of an onslaught by British troops.

According to a plaque at the Cave Museum, Rommel died in October 1944, having been accused of plotting against the life of German dictator Adolf Hitler and given the choice of either standing trial or quietly committing suicide to ensure the safety of his family. Rommel chose the latter course, and his death was announced as having been due to a heart attack.

The cave is located near the Rommel Beach in Marsa Matrouh, and it was originally cut out of the rocky cliffs during the Roman period as a storage space due to its position near an ancient seaport. When the German troops entered Al-Alamein, Rommel selected the cave as his military headquarters because it was hidden in the cliffs overlooking the harbour.

Rommel Cave to reopen

In 1977, the idea of transforming the cave into a museum was launched as a way of paying tribute to Rommel’s career. However, the plan was not put into effect until 1988, when it was opened to the public in order to display a collection of Rommel’s personal possessions, many of them donated by his son Manfred, as well as weapons, shells and military equipment used during World War I.

Among the exhibited objects are Rommel’s full-length leather coat, clothes trunk, photographs, field telephone, compass, military attire, maps he drew himself, battle plans and medals he received from Hitler. Copies of a newspaper produced by Rommel’s troops in Africa during the war, called Al-Waha (Oasis), are also on display, as well as boxes housing the files of German soldiers from the time.

In 2010, the museum was closed for restoration and development, and it has since been closed to the public. However, last month the Ministry of Antiquities resumed restoration work at the cave and the conservation of its artefacts, saying that it would be reopened to the public within the next two months.

“The reopening of the Rommel Cave Museum highlights the aim of the Ministry of Antiquities to promote tourism through opening new attractions as well as increasing awareness among Egyptians in general,” Elham Salah, head of the Museums Sector at the ministry, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

She said that work was in full swing in order to reopen the museum at the beginning of the summer season with the aim of providing holidaymakers with a new destination to visit. The opening hours of the museum would be extended towards the evenings in order to provide visitors with a night-time option after spending the day at the beach, she said.

Development work is also being conducted at the nearby Marina Al-Alamein archaeological site, originally the ancient town of Taposiris Magna or Abusir. The site includes the ruins of an ancient temple, a small lighthouse and a series of catacombs.

The aim is to landscape the area and integrate existing monuments into a more accessible and recognisable historical site for visitors. The facilities will include a parking area, an entrance gate and a ticket and information office. There will also be a new visitor route with boards carrying information about the site and an enclosed area displaying artefacts.

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