5 tips for Cairo

View on the Cairo Tower
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Cairo is the absolute dream destination for many people, because here history and modern times meet.

The Egyptian capital on the Nile was founded over 1000 years ago. It is the largest city on the entire continent and is extremely important in the Arab world in terms of economy and culture.

Spend a few days in a city that is simply unsurpassable. You will get to know mosques, churches and places worth seeing. Visit a typical Egyptian bazaar and watch the traders haggling. Everywhere there is the smell of spices, colorful fabrics and water pipes are sold. Nevertheless, in the city center there are modern buildings that are worth a visit. The museums also reveal more about the history of the city.

Tip 1: Pyramids

With the Pyramids of Giza, the ancient Egyptians created a place that continues to amaze us to the present day.

Many theories, legends and proven evidence revolve around the pyramids of Giza, as well as hundreds of souvenir sellers around the tourists on site. You have to be prepared for this scenario there – but also for a gigantic complex, a wonder of the ancient world, the Sphinx and a magical place that you will never forget. If you want to be fascinated, you definitely have to come here.

The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt are among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Pyramids near Cairo
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They are the only wonders of the world that are still preserved to this day. Despite the past millennia, the amazingly well-preserved pyramids offered today’s visitors an amazing sight.

The world-famous pyramids of Giza date back to the period between 2700 and 2560 BC and served as burial sites for the mummified pharaohs. The pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos all go back to the ingenious master builder Imhotep and were among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The 137-meter-high Pyramid of Khufu, with a base width of 227 meters, was assembled from about 2.5 million stone blocks, each weighing between 2 and 20 tons. The Chephren pyramid is 136 meters high. The smallest is the Mykerinos Pyramid, 62 meters high, at the foot of which the Great Sphinx stands guard.

Tip 2: Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is the largest museum of ancient Egyptian art in the world. It is located near the eastern bank of the Nile in Tahrir Square.

Egyptian Museum in Cairo
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In order to prevent looting of archaeological finds, the government in Egypt established the Service des Antiquités de l’Egypte in 1835. This created the first collection of Egyptian art. The Frenchman Auguste Mariette founded a museum in Bulaq in 1858 to store the tomb finds. However, it was quickly overcrowded. In addition, there was a danger of flooding from the nearby Nile River. Therefore, in 1897 the foundation stone was laid for a new museum, which was also open to visitors from 1902.

Today, the collection includes about 150,000 artifacts that reflect Egyptian history of the last 4,500 years.

The building has three floors with an exhibition area of about 11,000 square meters. The basement is not accessible to visitors. As new tomb finds keep coming into the museum, it is necessary to keep changing the building and the exhibition.

Among the most famous exhibits are the mask of Tutankhamun, the statue of King Cheops, the tomb furnishings of the royal tombs of Tanis or the Narmer palette.

Tip 3: Khan El-Khalili

One of the largest oriental bazaars in the Middle East can be found in Cairo’s Islamic Old City, very close to the Friday Mosque “Al Hussein”. Starting at Midan al Hussein, the labyrinthine alleys wind through the area and today form one of the largest and most mysterious tourist attractions, whose namesake was an emir named Darjakas el Chalili, who founded a caravanserai on this spot around 1380, around which craftsmen and merchants quickly settled. It was not until around 1511 that the area was fundamentally rebuilt by Sultan El Guri and expanded more and more under Mameluk rule. Mosques and mansions were built. During the Ottoman period, the Caravenserai lost its importance and only regained its former glory and honor with the seizure of power by Mohammad Ali around 1770.

Khan El Khalili in Cairo
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On the whole, the shopping-addicted visitor can get in the Chan el Chalili everything imaginable what the souvenir heart desires, like wood, glass, leather, brass and copper goods, gold and silver jewelry, precious stones, silk Gallabiyas, hand-knotted carpets, and of course replicas from Pharonian time and much more. The only thing that does not exist there are fixed prices. If you want to buy something here, you have to be able to bargain or at least try. Trading is the most popular sport of the Egyptians.

Tip 4: Alabaster Mosque

If you visit Cairo, you can’t miss a visit to the Mohammed Ali Mosque. The place of worship in the citadel is one of the tourist attractions of the Egyptian capital. Located on a hill at the foot of the Moqattam Mountains, the mosque offers a fantastic view over the metropolis.

Alabaster Mosque in Cairo
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Compared to the Citadel, the Mohammed Ali Mosque is comparatively young. In 1176, the legendary Sultan Salah ed-Din, also known as Saladin, had the fortress built for protection against the Crusaders. The house of worship, on the other hand, was built between 1824 and 1884 by order of Pasha Mohammed-Ali. In 1824, an explosion had occurred in the powder store, destroying parts of the fortress. Instead of rebuilding the buildings, the rubble was removed and the mosque was built.

Its most distinctive features are the double minaret and the multi-storey dome. The minarets are each 82 meters high, and the dome is 52 meters high.

The Muhammad Ali Mosque is the first to be built in Egypt in the Ottoman architectural style.

Inside, a magnificent prayer room awaits visitors. The floors are completely covered with thick red carpets and the walls are clad in alabaster, which is why Cairoites colloquially refer to the place of worship as the Alabaster Mosque.

Tip 5: Hanging Church

Opposite the Mar Girgis metro station is the Hanging Church. This name is due to its location above the entrance to a Roman fort, which visually gave a ‘hanging’ impression. The church was built in the 4th century and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It finally advanced to a bishop’s see in the 7th century. After destruction in the 9th century and reconstruction in the 11th century, the Hanging Church was elevated to the seat of the Coptic Patriarch and presents itself to today’s visitors with a 19th century facade.

Hanging Church in Cairo
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To reach the church, visitors must enter through iron gates into a courtyard decorated with biblical mosaics.

One of the Hanging Church’s most notable features is the ceiling, which is built of vaulted wood and resemble the interior of Noah’s Ark. Another highlight is the marble pulpit, which is supported by 13 marble columns.