Cairo

Facts About Cairo

Country
Egypt
Currency
Egyptian pound (EGP)
Language
Arabic
Population
City: 10,230,350 | Metro: 20,439,541 (2011)
Timezone
UTC+2

Map of Cairo Attractions

Top 15 Sights in Cairo

Giza Pyramids

Photo: feelix

When you mention Egypt, there is an immediate association with the pyramids. It is a kind of a visit card that is recognized in the whole world. There are many pyramids in Egypt. They are really diverse: huge, tiny, and smooth or with stepped sides. Virtually all instances survived in very good condition and almost in its original form. Of the most famous song of the pyramids can be identified, which is located on the edge of the desert plateau of Giza, majestically hanging over beautiful green valley of the Nile. This ensemble consists of three grand pyramids which are separated by ascending at a distance of one hundred meters - Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, built in the 26th century BC is the largest one in the composition. Its height is 137 meters, and it consists of three burial chambers. In addition to its size, it is also interesting that it is the only surviving reminder of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

The Pyramid of Khafre is remarkable by the fact that in the lower church at one time housed the statues of pharaohs in the amount of 25 pieces. Here the rite of mummification of the pharaoh Khafre was performed.

The smallest pyramid complex of Giza is Menkaure, whose height reaches 66 meters.

The whole ensemble of the Pyramids of Giza is crowned with the funerary temple of the Great Sphinx, the shape of which resembles a pharaoh Khafre.

Islamic Cairo

Islamic Cairo is a piece of the Egyptian capital with its own interesting world, dominated by unique and striking contrasts. This area of Cairo miraculously combines seemingly incongruous - ancient mosques and coffee shops in the neighborhood, donkeys, carts drawn with old rubbish, and modern luxury cars, old men in long traditional clothes and a lot of kids in school uniform. This merging of times and traditions creates a unique atmosphere, which is possible only on the streets of Islamic Cairo.

One of the most striking examples of the harmonious combination of old and new can be called a grand ancient statue of Ramses surrounded by thousands of honking cars rushing around the city. Special flavor of Islamic Cairo street vendors give lozenges, who travel by bicycle through the streets with huge wicker baskets on their heads.

The heart of this amazing quarter is the market of Khan El Khalili, where you can buy almost everything. The highlight point of the Cairo is bazaar where you can buy some goods that are created by local artisans directly in front of the buyer.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun

Photo: Daniel Dai

While in Cairo, do not miss the opportunity to visit one of the oldest mosques in the city. It is the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. It was built in 879, at the behest of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, the son of a Turkish slave who managed to climb very high to the rank of governor of Egypt. He created this mosque to accommodate there his army during Friday prayers.

The mosque itself is a beautiful building, separated by walls from the surrounding streets, in an area of more than 6 acres. Huge courtyard around the perimeter is surrounded by four vaulted aisles, and arch soffits are richly decorated with magnificent carved moldings. Domestic long galleries are decorated with floral decorations of  skillful and beautiful inscriptions around the entire building at an early Islamic language, length of more than two kilometers.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun is unique in its kind. Its minaret is modeled on the minaret of a mosque in Samarra and has unsurpassed spiral staircase on the outside of the tower.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun is so beautiful and unique that the Egyptian government awarded it with the honor of decorating the "face" of the Egyptian banknotes of 5 Egyptian pounds.

Dahshur

Dahshur is one of the most popular and favorite sights of Egypt among tourists from all over the world. Dahshur is a rocky plateau on which there are many pyramids. Among the most famous and interesting, you can select the Bent and the Red pyramid of Pharaoh Sneferu. Each of them is a real work of art, which no one and nothing could surpass for thousands of years.

The peculiarity of this place is that it keeps a secret that until now scientists and historians cannot figure out: why the Pharaoh built two pyramids so close to one another?

The Red Pyramid is one of the largest and the oldest in Egypt. By Age and height, it surpasses even the grand pyramid of Cheops, which is located in Giza. It received such a strange name due to the non-standard color of the stone from which it was built.

Bent Pyramid is the most unusual "instance" that its unusual shape creates around itself disputes the arguments and inexhaustible questions. The peculiarity of this pyramid is that the angle of inclination to the center is very sharply reduced, creating a very beautiful and unique shape. Another feature of the pyramid is the presence of two entrances. One goes on the north side and the second one leads to the west.

Egyptian Antiquities Museum

On the large square in Cairo Square there is a grand neoclassical building, which houses the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. It is the keeper of the largest collection of artifacts of ancient Egypt in the world. A unique exhibition of the museum consists of more than one hundred thousand a variety of subjects.

There is a rumor that if a visitor of the museum dedicates at least one minute of his time on each element of a collection, it will take him nine months to examine the whole museum. Therefore, while visiting the Egyptian Museum, you would better hire a guide. He will quickly introduce "guest" with the most decent copy exposure.

This museum houses the world famous collection of Tutankhamen, located on the top floor which is a very high value. Elements of exposure require special attention. There are four gilded boxes, magnificent funerary mask, sarcophagus of unsurpassed beauty, majestic thrones and other unique items. Be sure to visit the Hall of mummies of kings, where you can see with your own eyes eleven mummies of the pharaohs. This spectacle is unforgettable. It can surprise even the most discerning traveler.

Zamalek

In the heart of Cairo directly in line with the Nile there is the beautiful island of Gezira. The gem of this island is unsurpassed region called Zamalek, which is known all over the world.

Zamalek is one of the most prestigious and elite neighborhoods across the Egyptian capital. It is considered to be the most secure and relatively quiet area in Cairo. Therefore, it is not surprising that many of the objects located on the island, are closed to the public. Yet, in Zamalek there are many places to visit. Among the most important ones there are the magnificent palace of Ismail Pasha, unmatched Tower, the Grand Aquarium, and several unique and interesting museums.

This stunning location is a must to visit to see the unique, incredibly harmonious blend of colorful residential houses, drowning in the "juicy" green parks and gardens, majestic cultural institutions and strict administrative buildings. This quarter there are quite a lot of restaurants, shops and hotels, which are known for a very high level of service.

Only in Zamalek district you can see and feel the real pace and way of life of Cairo. Only here you can fully enjoy the unique atmosphere of that which is inherent only in this place.

Salah El-Din Citadel

Salah El-Din Citadel is a great and highly significant historical heritage for the Egyptian people. Among other things, this site is one of the most beloved and popular attractions among travelers from around the world. The greatest monument of medieval architecture of Cairo is a unique fortress that stands proudly and majestically over the horizon in the east of the Egyptian capital.

Salah El-Din Citadel is one of the most striking examples of the unique fortification architecture. This building has been thought through every detail. Huge round towers sticking out of the walls of the fortress allowed defenders to be engaged comfortably and effectively in direct combat on the flank attackers. A wall surrounding the citadel is 10 meters high and three meters in width.

A place on which Salah El-Din Citadel was built was not chosen by chance. One legend says that in this place the air is especially clean. If you start from a more pragmatic purposes, the citadel was built right here because of the very good strategic advantage in the arrangement.

Nowadays, Salah El-Din Citadel can be called the most famous and popular tourist attraction in Cairo after the pyramids. Do not miss the opportunity to see with my own eyes this incredible structure in the capital of Egypt.

Saqqara

Saqqara is an ancient archaeological monument of incredible magnitude, which is situated on the west bank of the River Nile. In fact, Saqqara is the main place of burial of the former Egyptian capital of Memphis epic proportions. It was named in honor of this landmark Saqqara god who was the patron saint of this necropolis. The total length of its territory is eight kilometers. There is also a huge variety of attractions, which are interconnected by winding rocky paths.

At first glance, Saqqara seems not particularly remarkable and interesting, but this is only the first impression. The most valuable is hidden under the ground and in the quiet mysterious penumbra there are unique tombs and mastabas. If we look at the necropolis, the first striking magnificent site is the Pyramid of Djoser, which seems struggled toward the sun. It is worth noting that the entrance to it is possible by special permission only. Special appeal and charm of these magnificent sights give reliefs that decorate the tomb.

Saqqara is an amazing place that can be considered only after spending almost the whole day there. In the area of the necropolis archaeologists found more than 15 amazing tombs, and you cannot even imagine how many interesting things Saqqara sands hide.

Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khalili is a must place to visit while in Cairo. Only here you can see the real pace and way of life of the city and experience its unique atmosphere. In fact, the Khan el-Khalili is a huge market, which covers an area of more than 5000 square meters. It is the largest market in the entire Far East.

Khan el-Khalili is composed of innumerable narrow passages, where there is a close shopping arcade, sometimes even in two floors. Here, without exaggeration, one can buy everything that may come to mind, with the exception of alcohol and beer, because it is a Muslim country and these products are taboo. The market offers a wide variety of traditional products that are impossible not to try. If you do not buy anything, then at least take a closer look.

Khan el-Khalili is a very colorful and vibrant place. This market, despite the fact that its origin dates back to 1292, has retained its original appearance and almost looks like a traditional east market, which is filled with colorful and exotic goods bagatelles and his inimitable air, is saturated with aromas of herbs and spices.

Mohamed Ali Mosque

Mohamed Ali Mosque, or as it is called, the Alabaster Mosque, is one of the components of the composition of the Citadel, which was built in the early nineteenth century. This Mosque is notable not only for its age, but also for unsurpassed architectural design. This building is very original and unique. The mosque was built on the project of the Turkish architect of Greek descent. The idea was taken of the church of Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople.

The architecture of the Mohamed Ali Mosque really blends several styles that make it unique. If you examine the courtyard, you can see the predominance of the Rococo style, but the two minarets of cylindrical shape at the western facade made it like Ottoman style design. As lighting of the mosque a lot of stunning lamps and chandeliers of excellent crystal were used, suspended from the ceiling by chains and forming a few laps. The beauty and scale of the interior is simply breathtaking.

Courtyard around the perimeter is surrounded by four galleries with columns of marble and miniature domes. In the very center there is a magnificent fountain where Muslims have ritual bath before prayer. Among other things, on the there are several extremely interesting museums with curious exhibits.

Al-Azhar Park

Al-Azhar Park is a stunning piece of art in the field of urban planning, the concept of which implies a harmonious combination of grandiose architecture and respect for nature. In today's world, this symbiosis is quite rare, which makes this park quite a unique place to some extent.

It took over ten years to create the complex of Al-Azhar. The result of this project is simply stunning. By the way, it is known that during the excavation work on the construction site a part of the city wall length of 1.3 kilometers, which belongs to the era of the Ayyubid Dynasty, was found. This discovery was later introduced into the overall concept of the park. During this process much effort and money was spent.

Presently, there are lush green plantations, orchards, palm gardens, amazing trails, canals, playground and even a small lake. All this forms the incredible beauty of the park, where the main concept of the traditional Islamic garden is saved.

Being in this beautiful place, do not deprive yourself of pleasure of climbing the hill to the north of the park and from the windows of the restaurant, where you can have a tasty meal, and galleries enjoy stunning views of Cairo and the surrounding neighborhoods of Al-Azhar historical attractions at an angle of 360 degrees.

Coptic Museum

Photo: Phil

Coptic Museum in Cairo is located on the area where Coptic Christians lived in ancient times. This museum was established in 1910 to educate the public with regard to culture, history and everyday life of the ancient Coptic. The first exhibits were a huge collection of steel art and cultural objects from the private collection of Marcus Simayke. Presently, the exposition of the museum is so large that it is located in 29 exhibition halls. Visitors can watch here exhibits dating from the period from 300 to 1000 years before our era. It is a time when Christianity was born.

Being in the Coptic Museum, please pay a special attention to the collection, which present unique pieces of ancient handicrafts. It is an exquisite craftsmanship and incredible beauty. There are the unique handicrafts made of wood, glass, clay, amazing metal products, vintage fabric and ancient manuscripts.

It should be noted that this museum is interesting not only for its rich exposure. The building itself deserves honorable attention. This building is a prime example of ancient architecture Copts. Almost every element of the building carries a certain piece of the cultural heritage of the nation - doors, bars on the windows, locks on the balconies and windows, and, by the way, some of the gates were taken from the ancient Coptic homes and ancient churches.

Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art is a unique museum. This is one of the most interesting and informative attractions in Cairo, which is located in the southern part of the Old Town. It has an incredibly rich collection of Egyptian art. In addition to the cultural heritage of Egypt, here you can see exhibits from other parts of the Islamic world. In total, in the Cairo Museum of Islamic Art is presented in a review of visitors over 62 thousands of pieces of different nations and from different eras. They all illustrate the development of Islamic art during its period.

Here you can see a variety of exhibits: objects made of metal, glass, marble fountains with intricate carvings, moldings, pottery, weapons of Mamluk times, carpets, rich textiles, beautifully decorated Korans and manuscripts. To list everything that is stored in the museum it just impossible.

We can also highlight the most interesting and amazing artifacts can. For example, in the 13th gallery there is a huge papyrus, consisting of 12 units of length 2.5 m, width is more than 50 centimeters. This manuscript is remarkable and valuable because it contains text, written in 758 year. This museum has a lot of interesting and surprising things.

Memphis

Memphis is a great asset of the Egyptian people, which is of a great historical value. Memphis is a ruin of once great and glorious city, which for many centuries was the capital of Egypt. The life in Memphis was born in 3100 BC and ended in the 6th century AD after the Arab conquest.

Once upon a time it was a great, prosperous and wealthy city, from which has kept only a small reminder of the former glory of Memphis as inconspicuous ruins to this day. This place is surrounded by golden sands and majestic grand statue stands proudly Ramses II, the monument to sphinx King Tuthmosis III and unrivaled "eternal" image plates with skillful Apis. All surviving former capital of attractions is located in a special garden, including a unique alabaster table, which was used for embalming sacred Apis bulls. You should visit Memphis if you want to see the date palm groves of incredible beauty that seems to still remember that sunk into eternal power and glory of this ancient city.

By the way, close to the park, archeological excavations of the temple complex of the god Ptah are being executed now.

Coptic Cairo

Photo: lithics50

Coptic Cairo is a kind of a window through which we can consider the history and culture of the whole of Egypt and Cairo in particular. This cozy, quiet and the oldest district of the Egyptian capital is one of the parts of the Old Town. This place is attractive not only for its unique old architecture, but by the fact that it is here where the Christianity was born. Coptic Cairo to the present day has some amazing places of worship. It is the guardian of Christian culture in the country, where the Muslim religion predominates.

While walking through the streets of Coptic Cairo you may seem to return to ancient times. There are many attractions that are worth a must-see. Among the most interesting and very informative is Coptic Museum. From other local attractions, no less stunning and amazing, you can select a unique fortress of Babylon, unmatched Hanging Church of the Virgin Mary and a magnificent Orthodox monastery of St. George.

Please note that almost all the churches in Coptic Cairo are functional. You can visit each of them for free.