by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- At his home in the main street leading to the Pyramids of Giza near Egypt's capital Cairo, Ahmed Hassan, a 63-year-old radiologist, was moving a yellowish wooden replica of London's Tower Bridge, which had been dismantled into three pieces, to a room to give it a polish as the final touch to this exquisite handicraft.
Taking a closer look at the miniature, however, a viewer finds out that it was not made of regular wood but of thousands of matchsticks. Using them to make models is a hobby the Egyptian man has been pursuing for years as a relief from stressful life.
Hassan fell into the hobby as early as the 1980s, and picked it up again in 2013. Since then, he has produced more than 20 replicas of local and foreign famous monuments, by means of merely matchsticks, white glue and a cutter blade.
Hassan's works include ancient Egypt's giant Library of Alexandria, which is believed to have been burnt down some 2,000 years ago, and the long-gone Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
His replicas also cover Egypt's existing landmarks such as the historic Baron Empain Palace, the Basilica Church linked to the Palace, and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, all located in Cairo, as well as traditional objects and symbols like lanterns, boats, vases and arabesque structures.
The shortest time Hassan spent in making a replica was a whole month, and the longest was nearly four months during which he created the miniature of the Library of Alexandria.
"Most of my works are replicas of Egyptian landmarks, but I also produced replicas of monuments in other countries like France, Denmark and Russia," said the Egyptian doctor.
The unique collection of Hassan's matchstick replicas includes France's medieval cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris and famed Chateau de Chambord, the Naval Cathedral in Russia, and Frederik's Church in Denmark, also known as the Marble Church.
Currently, Hassan is gearing up to produce a replica of the Temple of Heaven, a remarkable Chinese monument in Beijing, starting with a study on the special architecture of Chinese buildings.
"I've made up my mind to carry out China's very beautiful Temple of Heaven. I hope that I will find online the necessary information, photos, and drawings with initial dimensions," he said.
Hassan generally does not offer his handiwork for sale, but he hopes that they will be brought to light through local and international art exhibitions.
"Last year, I joined an exhibition at Cairo Opera House on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal inauguration, where I displayed replicas of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) building and the royal yacht El-Mahrousa. I gave them both as a gift for future display at the SCA's museum," Hassan told Xinhua. Enditem