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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Giant Ramses statue gets new home
The statue of Pharaoh Ramses II, on its way to the pyramids

A huge granite statue of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II has arrived at its new home near the pyramids outside Cairo.

For 50 years, it had stood in a Cairo square, hemmed in by bridges, an underground railway and a mosque.

There were worries that heavy pollution was damaging the 3,200-year-old statue, which is 11 metres (36 feet) high and weighs about 83 tonnes.

It took 10 hours for the colossus to travel the 2km to its new home.

The statue was moved through Cairo at a stately pace on two flatbed trucks.

Tens of thousands of people came out to watch it go by.

The statue was transported in one piece. A steel cage was built around the statue to hold it steady.

The head of Ramses, protruding from the protective steel, was wrapped in plastic and thick padding, but its face was visible to the crowds lining the streets

'Happy now'

The whole operation was broadcast live on Egyptian television.

The statue's new home is a site on which a new museum of antiquities is being built.

The statue in June 2006 before it was readied for the move.

"Ramses will be happy now," said Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's antiquities council.

"He would have been unhappy in his tomb knowing that the statue was staying in such a mess where nobody can see him any more."

Mr Hawass said the statue originally stood in Memphis, one of the ancient capitals of Egypt, more than 3,200 years ago.

It was found in excavations in 1882. In the mid-1950s it was cut into eight pieces and moved to Ramses Square in central Cairo.

Ramses II ruled Egypt for more than 60 years during the 19th dynasty of pharaohs 3,200 years ago. He was one of ancient Egypt's most prolific builders.

Statues and temples dedicated to him have been found all over Egypt, but the huge figure that once adorned central Cairo is the best known of his monuments.

Watch the giant statue being moved from central Cairo

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