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Cairo

"This little world, the great Cairo... the most admirable and the greatest city seen upon the earth... the Microcosmus of the greater world..."

William Lithgow. 1614

 
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 three continents.

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 world.

"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
  • Pharonic Cairo
     
  • Coptic Cairo
     
  • Islamic Cairo
     
  • Shopping and night life

 


Pharonic Cairo:

The Great Pyramids: "One of the Seven Wonders of the World, King Cheops' pyramid was built c. 2650 BC "" it is impossible to get tired of the Pyramids."
Amelia B. Edwards. 1877

Saqqara: The 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.

Memphis: One 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

The Solar Barque of King Cheop: a cedar-wood craft built to take the Pharaoh through the underworld. 

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.


Coptic Cairo:

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 Egypt. 

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.


Islamic Cairo:

"...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 interior.  

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 fashions. 

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 appliqu-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.


Alexandria : Cairo : Luxor : Aswan : Abu Simbel 


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