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The City that never sleeps

  • General Information

    Other Name: Triumphant City, District: Cairo, State: Urban Region, Egypt
    Area: 296 kmĀ²
    Languages Spoken: Arabic
    Long Distance Code: -
    Importance: -
    Best Time to Visit: November to March and -
    International Access: -
  • Description

    Cairo the capital city of Egypt lies on the banks of Nile River in northern part of Egypt. Officially known by the name of Al-Qahirah, Cairo is the most populous metropolitan city in African continent.There are number of attractions in Cairo but the most famous and major ones are churches of Cairo, Mosques of Cairo, Memphis, Saqqara and the new constructed structures reflecting the metropolitan nature of the city.Beside of these sightseeing destinations in Cairo, the city is also known for its vibrant nightlife and consists of Egypt''s famous shopping destination i.e. Khan El-Khalili.Egyptian Museum and Cairo Opera House are the two gems of the Cairo that make this city more fascinating and attractive.The Cairo Tower is a free-standing concrete TV tower in Cairo. It stands in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the River Nile, in the city centre. At 187 meters, it is 43 meters higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands some 15 km to the southwest.The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, is home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. It has 136,000 items on display, with many more hundreds of thousands in its basement storerooms.
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It may look like the partner of the Sultan Hassan Mosque next door, but half a century separates their construction dates. The mosque''s construction began in 1869, but it was not completed until 1912. It was built in pseudo-Mameluke style and now contains the tombs of Sheikh Ali Rifai, a Sufi holy man. It also contains the tombs of King Fouad, his mother, King Farouk and the last Shah of Iran.
The area of the Roman fortress of Babylon is entered between two massive Roman towers. In a closely packed huddle of houses is the Church of Abu Sarga, founded in the fourth-fifth century and rebuilt in the 10th-11th centuries. According to tradition the Virgin and Child found refuge here for a month during their flight into Egypt.The church represents the basic type of the Egyptian-Byzantine basilica of the early period, still favored by the Copts. It has a nave and aisles, with exposed roof beams over the nave, a raised transept (choir) and galleries in the flat roofed aisles. The side walls of the nave consist of two rows of columns, one above the other, with keeled arches
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between the columns; the galleries are supported on alternate groups of two columns and a masonry pier. The marble columns, taken from ancient buildings, are used without regard to their diameter or architectural form.
Cairo TowerBuilt during the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser with Soviet assistance, this 187m-high slender tower on an island in the Nile offers spectacular views of Cairo. Its concrete lattice work with a fluted lotus flower finial is unique, but makes the tower look somewhat like an elongated rubbish bin. There is an overpriced restaurant that occasionally revolves, but its better to skip it altogether in favour of the roof deck and its fantastic panoramic views.
Arguably the best private gallery in the city, owner William Wells is a leading figure in Cairo''s art community. Exhibitions change frequently and many feature area display installations.
Almost at the end of the street which runs north through the old town to Bab el-Futah, on the right, is the entrance to the El-Hakim Mosque, begun in 990 by El-Aziz on a site outside the oldest town walls, on the model of the Ibn Tulun Mosque, and completed in 1012 by his son El-Hakim. The two minarets, standing on the second town wall, which at this point is well preserved, were originally round; their present square casing and the domed top section resembling an Arab incense burner date from the rebuilding of the mosque after the 1303 earthquake.
To the northwest of the Liberation Square is the large range of buildings (1897-1902) occupied by the Egyptian Museum, which has the world''s largest and finest collection of Egyptian and Graeco-Roman antiquities, founded in 1857 by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette (1821-81 ). To do full justice to the Museum, which can display only a fraction of its total holdings, several days would be required. Visitors who are pressed for time will do well to confine themselves to the celebrated treasures of Tutankhamun and a selection of the Old Kingdom material. Horizontal looms can be seen in models of workshops which were found in tombs.
The museum is actually two houses dating to 1540 and 1632 respectively. A retired British army major purchased the two houses in the 1930s and refurbished them, filling their spaces with an outstanding collection of Oriental furniture and pieces. Many of the rooms have themes, and this might be the closest you''ll ever get to feeling like you are in an authentic medieval Cairene mansion. The place is chock full of marble fountains, opulent wood paneling, dark wood furniture and fine Turkish rugs and pillows. It''s definitely worth a detour.
The most famous site in Egypt, and the one that appears on almost every tour package, this is the oldest and largest of the pyramids on the Giza Plateau. Built by the IV Dynasty pharaoh Khufu (better known as Cheops) around B.C. 2570, this 140-meter-high monument contains an estimated 2.3 million blocks averaging 2.5 tons.
From the Midan el-Ataba, immediately southeast of the Ezbekiya Gardens, the wide Shari el-Qala runs southeast in a dead straight line to the foot of the Citadel. About a quarter of the way there it comes to the Midan Ahmed Maher, on the north side of which is the Museum of Islamic Art, founded bythe German architectand scholar Franz Pasha ,the finest collection of its kind in the world, with masterpieces from every Islamic country.
Buzzing with the activities of buying and selling, Khan al-Khalili is one of the largest markets in the world. It is situated within Islamic Cairo, a World Heritage Site that attracts travellers and locals alike. This is the best place to soak up the colour of Cairo and to people-watch. Traders have been bargaining in these alleys since the 14th century and it is possible to buy almost anything, from exotic perfume bottles to everyday Arabic clothing. On the northern corner of the bazaar is the Mosque of Sayyidna al-Hussein, one of the holiest Islamic sites in Egypt.

The Citadel is entered by the Bab el-Gedid, which leads into a courtyard and then through the Bab el-Wastani into the main courtyard. On the south side of this is the Mohammed Ali Mosque, often called the Alabaster Mosque, one of the city''s great landmarks with its tall and disproportionately slender minarets. It was begun in 1824 by Mohammed Ali but completed only in 1857, under his successor Said. The architect was a Greek named Yusuf Boshna from Istanbul, who took as his model the Nuruosmaniye Mosque in that city, itself modeled on the Hagia Sophia.
With more space devoted to ceremonial equipment and costumes than the brutal realities of war, pacifists should not be deterred by the name of this museum. Scale models and life-size simulations depict several of Egypt''s key battles, and visitors can actually step into the scene in which Egyptian soldiers cleverly blasted the "impregnable" sand Bar-Lev line with water cannons.
The dazzling light show and awe-inspiring backdrop of the Sphinx and Pyramids surely will win your heart. Three times a night in three different languages, the Sphinx plays the role of storyteller, narrating the history of ancient Egypt. Shows are held in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Arabic.
Designed by Imhotep, chief architect of the III Dynasty pharaoh Djoser, this six-tiered funerary chamber was the first pyramid. Prior to its construction, pharaohs were buried beneath rectangular mastabas. Imhotep created a pyramid by stacking six increasingly smaller mastabas on top of each other. Later pharaohs took it a step further to create the pyramids seen at Giza and elsewhere. An extensive funerary complex surrounds the pyramid. It is a very atmospheric place and the highlight for many is wandering through the hypostyle hall and Great South Court, part of which has been rebuilt.
One of Cairo''s major attractions, the massive Citadel complex dominates the city skyline. Built on a limestone spur by Salah al-Din (Saladin) in the 12th century, most of its features are associated with Mohammed Ali, the early 19th century leader who freed Egypt of the Mameluke yoke. The Citadel offers fantastic panoramic views of Islamic Cairo in a castle setting rich in history.Within the Citadel complex are the following attractions: Al-Gawhara (Jewel) Palace, Mohammed Ali Mosque, Police Museum, Sultan Al-Nasir Mosque, Military Museum, Carriage Museum, Archaeological Museum, Suleyman Pasha Mosque and Bab el-Azab.
Established in 1908 to preserve Coptic Christian artifacts from destruction, this renovated old building houses the world''s largest collection of Coptic art. Its two wings contain fabulous artifacts (both secular and religious) produced by Copts throughout the ages. Exhibits are arranged roughly in chronological order, with the upper floor housing an exhibition of Nubian paintings salvaged from villages before they were flooded by the Aswan High Dam in the 1950s and 60s. Worth a look are the wonderful examples of paintings and textiles, as well as metal, wood, glass and ivory craftsmanship. If you''re a history buff, check out the Nag Hammadi documents on the top floor.
Of all Egypt''s monuments, none is as majestic and haunting as the Great Sphinx. It was named as such by the Greeks, because of its physical similarity to a mythical creature with a lion''s body and woman''s head who devoured passers-by unable to answer her riddle. Arabs know it as Abu el-Hol (Father of Terror). Carved out of a limestone outcropping in front of the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx is 50 meters long and 22 meters high.It is an important area to visit.