This an article about what to see during a visit to Cairo. Our invited authors explain what you cannot miss in the capital of Egypt.
About the authors:
Isabel Giménez Barrachina. Passionate traveler and history lover. She enjoys visiting landmarks and understanding the secrets behind. She likes nice views, skylines and tasting new kinds of food. She has visited more than 30 different countries in three continents.
Fernando García Peña. Tireless traveler. He enjoys all kind of trips but he especially loves road trips and planning all the details up front before departing. He is an experimented backpacker and he is proud of having invented the best international breakfast all over the world. He has visited more than 30 different countries in three continents.
A journey to Egypt is impossible to forget. Egypt is impressive because of its history, culture, and its spectacular monuments that are true jewels. Some of the landmarks were excavated underground and some others raised in the desert with advanced tools at their time. It is still difficult to understand today how they had actually managed.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt. It has more than 20 million inhabitants and is the largest and the most important city in the Arab world. The city is torn between the modern world and the old tradition, with its bustling markets and its bazaars – where bargaining is a complete art.
Khan el-Khalili: the old souk
In Khan el-Khalili (Arabic: خان الخليلي), the 14th-century old souk, among the shops full of various goods, you can easily lose track of time. After a shopping session or just after a long aimless stroll you can take a break at the 200-year-old Fishawi cafe.
The Egyptian Museum: a date with the history
In El-Tahrir Square (Arabic: ميدان التحرير) you can find the Egyptian Museum (Arabic: المتحف المصرى). The Museum’s content is impressive, especially the treasure of Tutankhamun Pharaoh, but also all the sarcophagi, jewel collections, and well-preserved mummies. As we walk through its rooms, we could imagine how the ancient Egyptians’ daily life was. We could figure out about their culture and knowledge, their concerns and fears, and, effortlessly, we could move back to those historical moments where one of the greatest empires were still alive. Nowadays, the museum is unfortunately too small for the large amount of objects they preserve. Since they cannot exhibit as much heritage as they would like to in the current building, the cultural authorities have planned to inaugurate a ten times bigger new museum in 2021.
Coptic Cairo: a Christian quartier in the capital of Islam
Coptic Cairo is the Christian neighborhood in Cairo. This quartier is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and from all over the country. This is the area where Christian Egyptians live. The landmarks you cannot miss around Coptic Cairo are Babylon Fortress, the Hanging Church, Synagogue Ben Ezra and Cavern Church and Matryrs Sergius.
Saladin and the city of the thousand minarets
The Citadel of Saladin (Arabic: قلعة صلاح الدين Qalaʿat Salāḥ ad-Dīn) is a medieval Islamic-era fortification in Cairo. Located on Mokattan hills from where you can have beautiful views of the city. The fortress was built by Saladin in the 12th Century to protect the city and after was further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers. Indoors we can spot Al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun Mosque that has awesome minarets. Because of these and some others, Cairo is called the city of a thousand minarets. In the same building complex, we could enjoy also the Mosque of Muhammad Ali where it is possible to admire its interior vault and large mosaics.
And, of course, Pyramids…
The Pyramids of Giza are located 20km from Cairo. They are the last of the Seven Wonders of the World that still remain standing. They were built by thousands of Egyptians who worked for wages between harvest and harvest. Even today, historians do not agree on the way how the stone blocks were placed or how they were cut and transported to form these so perfect structures that all the sides of their base are millimeter equal.
The three most visited pyramids are Cheops, Chefren and Mykerinos, that set up an architectural complex difficult to forget. As a guardian of the pyramids stands the Great Sphinx with its 20 meters height and its 70 width at the base, colossal and magnificent.
Some evenings you can join an audiovisual show of light and color on the pyramids that includes dinner which can take you back more than 4.000 years. Sounds good, right?