Cairo: Main Sights
Mother Of All Cities
There is so much to see and do in Cairo that staying a week or two is only scratching the surface. The Pyramids at Giza are a former wonder of the world and is understandably the most popular of tourist attractions, but there are a number of museums and guided tours that are equally enlightening.
Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza
The pyramids and Sphinx at Giza is the oldest man-made construction in the world and the only remaining attraction of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Part of the magic of the pyramids is the mystery they hold and they have fuelled many an imagination and fuelled many a debate. The three pyramids are aligned with the stars of Orion's belt and is said to have been built during the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops), though some believe they were built much early. Whatever the period and by whatever means, there is no disputing the pyramids are a masterpiece of engineering.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo has and astonishing 107 halls filled with over 100,000 artefacts from ancient Egypt. Some of the museums masterpieces include the statue of Khafre and the treasures of Tutankhamun making it one of the finest collections of antiquities in the world.
Saladin Citadel in Cairo
Built in 1176 by Salah ad-Din, the Citadel in Cairo is one of the greatest monuments to Medieval warfare and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cairo. According to legend, the site of the citadel was chosen for the healthy air where meat would stay fresh for longer. The Citadel in Cairo is home to the National Military and Police museums, a number of mosques and a wealth of history.
City of the Dead
The largest cemetery in Cairo, known as the city of the dead is an astonishing four miles long and is an art house for spectacular gravestones and mausoleums. What makes the city of the dead such a fascinating place is that it's not simply a cemetery where the relatives of the deceased go to visit, but in amongst some of the most outstanding Islamic architecture are dozens of 'tomb squatters,' people who live and work in the cemetery to be close to their ancestors. Visitors are advised to stick to the main streets whilst strolling through the cemetery for safety reasons.
The Ancient City of Memphis in Cairo
One of the most attractive tourist attractions in Cairo is the ancient city of Memphis. Established around 311bc by King Menes it is the oldest capital of Egypt and contains many interesting monuments, the most spectacular being the 13m long statue of Ramesses II built in fine-grained limestone. What remains of The Ancient City of Memphis is only a small portion of what it once was, but the fact that it is older than any city in Europe and the Americas makes what is left all the more intriguing.
The Step Pyramid of Saqqara
It may not be as awe-ispiring as the great pyramids of Giza, but the Step Pyramid of Saqqara in northern Cairo was the first pyramid to be built by the ancients Egyptians and subsequently used as a blueprint for all other pyramids that were to follow. The ancient burial ground at Saqqara is an unusual, atmospheric setting and a stroll through the hypostyle hall and Great South Court is particularly pleasant though special permission is required to actually enter the pyramid itself.
Museum of Islamic Art
The bulk of the collection on display in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo originate for Egypt and other Arab countries where Islam has been the dominant faith. There are over 10,000 antiquities in the museum featuring some of the most beautifully crafted wood carvings and enamelled mosque lamps dating back to periods of Fatimid, Turkish and Persian rule.
Khan al-Khalili in Cairo is one of the largest markets in the world and is a constant buzz of buying and selling. It is a World heritage site situated in the realms of Islamic Cairo and is the perfect location to pick up a bargain, or just people watch. Marketeers have been trading on the site since the 14th century and the variety of goods on offer range from speciality foods to Arabic clothing, exotic perfumes to Asian spices.
The ancient remains of Old Cairo is also known as Coptic Cairo and is the oldest part of the city was known as the Roman stronghold of Babylon. Away from the busy tirades of the busy city centre, Old Cairo is a picture of calm and tranquillity and is eternally pleasant to stroll around. It is home to the oldest Mosque in the world, but only five of the twenty Christian churches are still standing. To enter Coptic or Islamic monuments in the city appropriate clothing must be worn covering the legs and shoulders in accordance with Islamic religion.
Coptic Church of St. George (Mari Girgis)
The Coptic Church of St. George was the subject of centuries old disputes between the Copt and the Greeks and since its construction in the 684AD ownership alternated between the two. Since the 15th century however, it has belonged to the Greek Orthodox and the adjoining monastery of St. George is the seat of the Greek Patriarch. The most fascinating features of the church is the impression of St. George and the dragon wrapped around the outer brickwork of the tower and most impressively the wedding hall which dates back to the 14th century.
Hanging Church in Old Cairo
The Hanging Church in Old Cairo is the most famous Christian Church and derives its name from its location above the southern gate of the old Babylon fortress with it's nave suspended over a passage. In the 14th and 15th century it became known as the staircase church by travellers due to the 29 steps leading up to the entrance. The churches elevated appearance as been diminished over time with the rise of land and much of the original Roman tower is now buried below the earth.
Asfour Crystal Factory
The Asfour Crustal factory in Cairo is the largest crystal factory in Egypt and the major distributor to shops both locally and worldwide. The Egyptians were the first civilisation to develop the art of glass manufacture some 5000 years ago, but the Asfour Crystal factory has only been established since 1961. On sale are a range of products including jewellery, 3D laser gifts, chandeliers and other light fittings.