Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

The street kiosk is a little temple of tradition, an iconic element of the European urban scene.

article summary —

In The Story of Sinuhe, a contemporaneous account of life in Ancient Egypt by a palace official, there is an interesting early mention of a 'kiosk' - yes, the antecedent of those roadside huts where we might nowadays stop off for a newspaper or packet of cigarettes. In Sinuhe's day, kiosks were evidently a bit more upmarket than in modern times:

The courtiers who usher through the forecourt set me on the way to the audience-hall. I found His Majesty on the great throne in a kiosk of gold.

Actually, as anyone who has made the rounds of the great Egyptian tombs on the Nile will know, there were kiosks aplenty in the times of the Pharaohs. And, in London, the British Museum has a fine wall frieze of Ramses II seated in a small kiosk.

These ancient Egyptian kiosks, it must be admitted, were a tad more elaborate than the commercial kiosks of our time. But we have, on our meanderings through Europe, developed a certain affection for the homespun charms of the simple kiosk. The traditional kiosk, especially the kiosk constructed mainly of wood and glass, which was for decades a mainstay of everyday life in so many European countries, seems to be on the demise.


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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 9.