Egypt is known as a land of many spectacular ancient landmarks. However, the Lotus tower is quite a modern structure. Constructed in 1971, the Lotus Monument is located on the west bank of the River Nile and close to the High Dam. It was built to commemorate the Russian involvement in the construction of the Aswan High Dam and is called Egyptian Russian Friendship Monument.
The construction of the monument is connected with the political history of Egypt and the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Based on the success of the Low Dam, construction of the High Dam became a key objective of the government of Egypt following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. The reason for the construction of a new dam was very much evident, because despite the old dam, each year Egypt suffered a lot due to the annual flooding of the Nile during late summer. It was obvious that, with increased reservoir storage provided by the new High Aswan Dam, the floods could be controlled and the water could be stored for later release over multiple years.
During December 1955, the U.S and Britain pledged $56 million and $14 million respectively, towards the construction of the dam. However, the Egyptian President Gamal Naser’s diplomatic recognition of China angered the American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Apart from that, there were several other reasons why the U.S. ultimately decided to withdraw its offer of funding.
The Soviets took this opportunity and in June 1956, they offered President Nasser of Egypt an amount of $1.12 billion at 2% interest for the construction of the Aswan High Dam and in 1958, they went ahead in providing technical support for the project. The construction started on 9 January 1960 and the ambitious project was completed on 21 July 1970.
As previously mentioned, the Egyptian Russian Friendship Monument, popularly known as the Lotus tower, was built to commemorate Russian involvement in the huge project. Based on the idea of five petals of a lotus, the exotic and offbeat tower stands more than 230 feet (70 m) high into the air and is set on a hill overlooking the dam wall. The center pylon of the monument features both the Egyptian and Russian coat of arms. An observation deck stands part way up and offers some impressive panoramic view of the dam, Lake Nasser and far beyond.