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The narrow channel between Roda Island and the mainland is bridged in such a way that the island engages more with Garden City than with Old Cairo – a reversal of historic ties. As the much-rebuilt Nilometer suggests, it was the southern end of Roda that was visited by ferries en route between Memphis and Heliopolis, and Roman ships bound for Babylon-in-Egypt. However, Roda reverted to agricultural use as Cairo’s focus shifted northeastwards, and nothing remains of the Byzantine fortress that defied the Muslim invasion, nor the vast Ayyubid qasr where the Bahri Mamlukes were garrisoned. Its sights are very spread out, and you wouldn’t normally visit them together. Manial Palace, at the island’s northern end, is most conveniently reached from Garden City, while the Nilometer and Umm Kalthoum Museum at its southern end are easiest to get to from Old Cairo.

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