Cairo is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the city that never sleeps. Cairo tend to be the city that have a bit of everything where ancient monuments meets the modernity of nowadays in a real rare experience. Beyond the modern scene, you will find history from ancient civilization for centuries.
Old Cairo and Coptic Cairo refer to the oldest areas of settlement, predating the founding of Cairo and the arrival of Islam in Egypt. Islamic Cairo is the historic core of the city, built as the capital of the Fatimid Caliphate during the 10th century and full of beautiful medieval Islamic architecture. Downtown Cairo is the youngest area of the city. Built during the second part of the 19th century as the city expanded and modeled on the great cities of Europe, it is the heart of modern Cairo.
If you didn’t tour Cairo’s attractions your tour will be missing the true egyptian street life. Find best attractions to visit and magnificent things to do in so called “ Umm Al-Dunya” ( the mother of the world) with some recommendations as listed:
The Egyptian Museum
Centrally located on the edge of Tahrir Square in Cairo, the Egyptian Museum is hard to miss on any tour of Cairo. Opening in 1902, it was purpose-built to house the antiquities of Ancient Egypt. The museum was founded in 1857 by French Egyptologist August Mariette
Located in Downtown Tahrir Square in Cairo, The Egyptian museum in Cairo houses over 120,000 artifacts, including the contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb and most of the mummies that have been discovered since the 19th century. The museum’s exhibits span from the beginning of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (approximately 2700 BC) through the Greco-Roman period.
Tutankhamun Collection of Artifacts:
Tutankhamun’s enormous tomb and the impressive discoveries that were made inside it, and the tomb belongings of Tanis which were both discovered after the museum opened including Tutankhamun’s death mask and sarcophagus (Room 3), the pharaoh’s lion throne (Room 35) and wardrobe (Room 9).
The Displays of the Old Kingdom:
The Old Kingdom in ancient Egyptian history, also known as the “Pyramids Builders Period”, was a very vital period that left us so many remarkable artifacts and objects, and that’s why it has a huge section in the museum. Some of the most important achievements of that period are the Pyramids of Giza, the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, the Pyramids of Dahshur, and the Pyramids of Abu Sir. As a part of the Old Kingdom, there is that statue of King Khafre which is made out of alabaster. It is put on display in the second half of the ground floor of the museum. The Museum Of Egyptian Antiquities also houses a huge collection of small statues of servants carrying out their everyday duties and responsibilities, as a representation of everyday life at that time.
The Displays of the Middle Kingdom:
The Museum houses ten of the most remarkable statues that date back to the Middle Kingdom. The ten statues portray King Senosert I, who belongs to the 12th dynasty and all of them are made out of limestone. The Middle Kingdom period started in Egypt after the fall of the Old Kingdom and it wasn’t really a great period of the ancient Egyptian history in every aspect. At the beginning of the 12th dynasty, the living conditions of the ancient Egyptians were significantly improved and even arts, industries, and artifacts witnessed a great improvement.
However, when the living conditions went bad, Egypt went through a transitional period once again, as the nobles fought among each other. Such corruption and chaos lead to the Hyksos invading the country. King Ahmose was able to defeat the Hyksos and bring back Egypt’s freedom. After that, Ahmose founded the 18th dynasty, which was the first dynasty of the New Kingdom.
Egyptians refer to Downtown as Wust al-Balad, or in other words “The heart of the city”. The reason of calling it so is because the Downtown area is the part of the city that is full of life and activities. Cairo is sometimes called “the city that never sleeps” of Egypt, and so for Downtown. It is not only the heart of Cairo, but also the center for every life activity and facility, and the hub for different cultures. Downtown is famous for Midan Talaat Harb and Midan Tahrir.
Downtown was built in the 1880’s as part of Khedive Ismail’s massive building project to modernize Cairo and other Egyptian cities. The Khedive’s goal was to make like a European city. Museum of Islamic Art is one the main attractions in DownTown, it contains a well-curated collection of artwork and architectural features from the era after Islam arrived in Egypt (641 AD).
Islamic Cairo is the historic core of the city. When the Fatimid dynasty conquered Egypt in 969 AD, they constructed a new capital north of the existing city to serve as their administrative center. This new city, named Al-Qahira (meaning The Vanquisher in English), gave the modern city its name.
Al-Muizz Al-Deen Street
The greatest concentration of sights in Islamic Cairo. This street was the main street through the city when it was built in the 11th century and mausoleums and palaces were constructed here. The northern section of the street (between Bab El-Fotouh and Al-Azhar Street) was recently restored. This is one of the most picturesque parts of Cairo. The Qala’un Complex here is one of the impressive in the city.
It is easy to spend a day in this area, ending up in the evening at Cairo’s famous 14th century souk, Khan Al-Khalili. Restoration work on the southern section of the street (from the Ghouriya Complex to Bab Zuweila) was begun in 2011. Also in the area of Khan Al-Khalili is Al-Azhar Mosque.
Salah El Din Citadel in Cairo
Salah Al-Deen (know as Saladin to European historians) overthrew the Fatimid dynasty in 1171 AD, establishing the new Sunni Ayyubid Caliphate. Given the threat of invasion by European crusader armies, Saladin decided to improve the fortifications of the city and in 1176 AD he began construction of a wall that would encircle both Al-Qahira (today Islamic) and Fustat (Old Cairo). Saladin’s Citadel served as the seat of government in Egypt for 700 years until Khedive Ismail moved into Abdin Palace in newly constructed Downtown Cairo in the 1870’s.
The Citadel looks very different today than it did in its original capacity as a fortress the Crusader armies. It has been expanded and remodeled by many different rulers. In the 14th century Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammed built a mosque there that still bears his name and the Southern Enclosure of the fort next to Saladin’s original walls. The most noticeable changes came in the 19th century.
Coptic Cairo is unique area with Old Cairo that has a concentration of Christian churches and other sites that date from the centuries between the decline of the pharaonic religion and the arrival of Islam when Egypt had a Christian majority. Coptic Cairo is largely built around the fort of Babylon on upon the remains of its walls.
The Coptic Museum
Holds the largest collection of Coptic Christian artwork and artifacts in the world. Founded in 1910, the museum records Coptic history from the arrival of Christianity in Egypt up through the Ottoman era, displaying a mixture of artwork influenced by Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman traditions.
There are also six churches here that date back to the early Christian Era. The Hanging Church, or the Church of the Virgin Mary, was built in the 9th century to ‘hang’ high upon the walls of Babylon. The effect of this ‘hanging’ is now diminished significantly as ground levels have raised around the walls.
Deeper into Coptic Cairo there are several other older churches, including the Church of St. Sergius, which dates from the 5th century and was supposedly built upon the site of a crypt where the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) to shelter during there time in Egypt. Even further back is Ben Ezra Synagogue. This is the oldest synagogue in Cairo, founded in the 9th century on what is claimed to be either the site of the Temple of Jeremiah or the site where the pharaoh’s daughter found Moses among the reeds.