Founded on the site of Babylon, near the ruins of ancient
Memphis, Cairo has been the largest city in Africa for
centuries. Modern Cairo encompasses many former cities and
their monuments: the pyramids of the pharaohs; early
Christian monasteries and churches; Salah al-Din's Citadel;
mosques of the Mamluke and Ottoman sultans. Five thousand
years of culture are concentrated here, at the center of
Travel through time in a city that is a living index to
civilization. Enjoy the comforts of a cosmopolitan
twentieth-century capital. Cairo, a microcosm of the greater
"The Nile does not change. Indeed I know of no place
where everything changes as much, as it does here, and
nothing is ever changed... You feel quite at home."
Henry Adams describing Cairo, 1898
Today's skyline mixes minarets and palm trees with art deco
villas and multicolored neon - but you can still see the
sunset over the Nile. Cairo has a unique atmosphere: both
exciting and relaxed. The city pulses with life while the
Nile flows on to the sea.
"The Mother of the World" is one of the friendliest (and
safest) cities in the world: Egyptian hospitality will
ensure that, wherever you come from, you'll feel quite at
home."...a palimpsest, in which the Bible is written over
lierodotus, and the Koran over that."
Lady Duff Gordon on Egypt, 1865
Cairo is divided into 4 categories
Shopping and night life
of the Seven Wonders of the World, King Cheops' pyramid was
built c. 2650 BC "" it is impossible to get tired of the
Amelia B. Edwards. 1877
royal burial-ground during the Old Kingdom (2705-2155 BC).
There are so many periods represented that Saqqara could
almost be a book, in whose pages the story of Egyptian
Civilization through the Pharaonic Greek and Roman periods
is told. Discoveries are still being made today.
of the oldest cities on earth, legendary Memphis was the
capital of ancient Egypt throughout the Old Kingdom.
The Mastabas of Mereruka, Ti and Path-Hotep: Carved
and painted tombs vividly illustrate everyday life more than
5,000 years ago.
The Sphinx: "Sacred
symbol of the union of the strongest physical with the
highest intellectual Power on earth,"
Harriet Martineau on the Sphinx 1848
Solar Barque of King Cheop: a
cedar-wood craft built to take the Pharaoh through the
The Step Pyramid: The
first proper pyramid, built for King Zoser in the
27th-century BC by the architect Imhotep
The Egyptian Museum: One
of the world's most famous museums. The magnificent
collection of antiques includes mummies, Sarcophagi and the
fabulous treasures from Tutankhamun's tomb.
The Hanging Church (al-Mu'allaqua): Originating
in the 4th century, the hanging Church was built over the
southern gate of the fortress of Babylon. Dedicated to the
Virgin Mary, its treasures include a 1 4th-century
wall-painting of the Nativity.
Church of St. Sergius and St. Bacchus: A
5th-century basilica, built over a crypt where the Holy
family are believed to have stayed during their flight into
Church of St. st.Mercurius: (Ahi, Sefein): A
unique collection of Coptic art including 175 icons
representing scenes from the Old and New Testaments wall
paintings, etchings and stained glass.
The Convent of St. George (Plad Girgis): In
the oldest part of Cairo, the chapel is reached through a
ratimid hallway and contains the relics of St. George in a
cedar wood casket.
"...manifold combinations of light and Shade, Color,
Costume and architectural detail Every shop front, every
Street corner.. is a ready-made Picture."
Amelia B. Edwards describes the streets of Cairo, 1877
The Citadel of Salah Al-Din: Built
between 1176 and 1182 AD, the Citadel fortress provides a
panoramic view of Cairo from the Moqattam Hills. "...the
living world spread out close beneath one's feet. " The
Citadel complex includes the Mabaster Mosque.
The Mosque and Madrassa of Sultan Nassan: A
masterpiece of Mamluke architecture it includes bronze doors
inlaid with gold and silver, marble paneling, and a fountain
that used to run with sherbet on special occasions.
The Qalawun. A1-Nasir Barquq complex: A
medieval complex of mosques, mausoleums and madrassas built
by three Mamluke sultans.
A1-Azhar mosque: The
first Fatimid mosque arid the oldest Islamic University in
the world, founded in 970 AD.
Bab Zuwayla: Part
of the city's fortifications, the gate dates from 1092 AD
and was formerly a place of public execution, crowned by the
heads of criminals on spikes. Minarets were added to the
towers in the fifteenth century.
The Blue Mosque (Mosque of Aqsunqur): Famous
for the indigo and turquoise tiles that decorate the
The Mosque of Ibn Tulun: Built
between 876 and 879 AD in the classical courtyard style this
is Cairo's oldest, intact mosque, still in use today.
Gayer Anderson House: the
Ottoman-style residence of an eccentric British major
restored and furnished in period style and filled with his
collection of Islamic art.
The Islamic Museum: Includes
works of art from all over the Islamic world, ranging from
large architectural pieces rescued from mosques to ceramics,
manuscripts and tapestries
Shopping and night life
Cairo offers an Incredible selection of shopping, leisure,
culture and nightlife. Shopping ranges from the famous Khan
el-Khalili souk,largely unchanged since the 14th century, to
modern air-conditioned centers displaying the latest
All the bounty of the East is here particularly good buys
are spices, perfumes, gold and silver, carpets, brass and
copperware, leatherwork, glass, ceramics and mashrablya.Try
some of the famous street markets, like Wekalet al-Balah,
for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton, the Tentmakers'
Bazaar for appliquŽ-work, Mohammed Ali Street for musical
instruments. And, although you probably won't want to buy,
the Camel Market makes a fascinating trip.When you need a
break from city life, try a round of golf on the famous Mena
House course overlooking the Pyramids watch the horse-racing
at the Gezira Club or visit the Zoo and the Botanical
Gardens. Take a trip on the Nile in a felucca or ride on
horseback from the Giza Pyramids to Saqqara. For a day trip.
outside Cairo visit Haraniyya village and see the beautiful
tapestries and weaving produced by local people. Or get away
from it all at the top of the Cairo Tower modem 187
meter-high tower with views of the city from all sides,
topped by a revolving restaurant.
Cairo comes alive at night, the best time to shop, eat
delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, or simply watch the world
go by from a pavement cafe. You can dine in a floating
restaurant on the Nile, sample a shisha at a coffee-shop or
see oriental dancers and cabarets at a luxury hotel. The
splendid Opera House complex houses several galleries
(including the Museum of Modern Art), restaurants and
concert halls. Listening to Arabic music under the stars, in
the open-air theatre, is a magical experience. At El-Ghuriya,
in the heart of Islamic Cairo, you can watch folk musicians
and whirling dervish dancers. And don't forget the most
essential after-dark experience, the Sound and Light show at
the Pyramids, a dramatic fusion of light and music
recounting the story of antiquity.