Top 50 Things to Do and to See in Cairo


cairo
Cairo is a city that is the capital of Egypt. It is one of the most historical, revered and important cities of the world. It is the largest city in the Arab as well as Africa. It is also known as Um-Ul-Duniya ( mother of the world). Cairo is also  referred by the locals as Masr. The metropolian region of Cairo is the 16th largest in the world and has an area of 453 square kilometers ( 175 sq mi). Cairo is also located near the Nile Delta and founded by Fatimid Dynasty during 969 ac. The city is also called as “the city of thousand minarets ” as it is rich in Islamic architecture. Cairo is  a dense bed of human civilization  culture and religion. The great pyramids and River Nile of Cairo are unarguably the greatest tourist attractions in Cairo. However, the city has uncountable places of tourist attractions that include museums, mosques, palaces, historical places, islands, zoos, culture, markets, churches and synagogues to name a few. Fifty things that you can explore and cherish in Cairo along with your family are as follow: www.travelrows.com

1. Great Pyramids/Sphinx of Giza

The pyramid is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World which is still standing and that’s the reason enough for you to visit Cairo. The pyramids are the most famous attraction and of course worth a visit. Don’t forger to get inside the Pyramids of Cheops, if you get the chance to do so. If you need any more reasons then there’s the immense scale of the things and the thought of how a civilization from thousands of years BC could build such structures that have withstood the ravages of time.

2. Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum is one of the favorite tourist destinations, and it is well said that after your visit to Giza, your next stop must be the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Here you will find the instantly recognizable death mask of Tutankhamen is on exhibit together with a lot of wonderful items from Giza and the Valley of the Kings. The death mask, which is made of solid gold, is kept in a steel reinforced cabinet but it’s still possible to wonder at the brilliance of it. You will also find here the ‘Book of the Dead’ presenting the process dead pharaohs went through to reach the afterlife.

3. Camel Ride

One of the most famous activities in Cairo is riding a camel; don’t forget to indulge in this mind blowing ride on your tour to Cairo. The ideal place for this is at the pyramid complex but the price reflects the location. It’s definitely worth an experience. It is said that on your ride you have to be very careful to keep your balance as the creatures have a violently jolting way of getting up off the floor and lying back down again.

4. Hot Air ballooning Over the Pyramids

Hot Air ballooning Over the Pyramids is one of the favorite things tourists loves to do in Cairo. You will find this air balloon trips quite close to the outside of Giza complex, it offers trips over the Pyramid complex. The view from a height of several thousand feet is absolutely spectacular. The pyramids still dwarf everything around them and you can see the staggered footprint of them quite clearly. It also offers you dawn and sunset trips which are absolutely magical and can be accompanied by champagne breakfasts aboard.

5. Khan Ali-Kalili

Cairo’s biggest open air market is called as Khan Ali-Kalili which is the most famous market in entire Cairo. It is said that the scenario of Cairo dint not changed since the 14th century and many of the families here have been working in the Khan Market business for generations. It is situated in the heart of Cairo; and you will find here hundred of stalls selling exotic jewellery, spices, perfumes and souvenirs.

6. Egyptian music

Egyptian music is very popular and enchanting among tourist as well as the local people. The music is so popular and well liked that it is played outdoors all over the city but to get the real feel don’t forget to visit in November when the Arab Music Festival comes to Cairo. It is presented at the famous Cairo Opera House and blends Arab music with undertones of western music. The resulting mix is a delicious cocktail of melodies and harmonies. You will also find CDs that are usually sold at the venue of the music played so you’ll be able to bring home a reminder to intrigue your friends with.

7. River Nile

It is said that your trip to Cairo is not complete until you visit the most famous Nile River. It is the longest River in the world. The hotel type ‘Nile Cruise’ with all the services and luxuries and the shorter ‘Dinner Cruise’ with the traditional belly dancing are popular among tourists however they looked far from an authentic experience. However, it was right in the middle of the chaotic and polluted city, the quiet blue stream of the river is very refreshing.

8. Muhammad Ali mosque

One of the famous mosques of Cairo, Muhammad Ali mosques interiors are worth visiting it. The interiors have some what similarity to the Ottoman era. The large central dome is rested on four half-domes on the central dome hangs an enormous chandelier that lightly illuminates the space. The ceiling and domes are similar to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and are ornately decorated in Ottoman motifs and includes medallions, there are inscription of the names of God (Allah), the Prophet Mohammed, and the first four Caliphs. Muhammad Ali, who constructed this mosque died after construction in 1848, he is buried within the mosque.

9. Cairo tower

One of the best views of the city of Cairo is from the top of Cairo Tower; it is located on Gezira Island (Zemalak) that is north of the Museum of Modern Art that provides a splendid view of Cairo. The tower is 187 meter tall and it is constructed in the form of a latticework tube that expands slightly at the top. The tower looks like a lotus plant. The tower is fourth among the world’s tallest towers. The tower is built using granite (the same material is used by the ancient Egyptians). The tower is nearly 45 meters taller than the great Pyramid at Giza.

10. Al-Azhar University

The most honorable of universities in Islamic world and in Cairo is Al-Azhar University. The university was founded around 970-972, it is called as madrasa in Arabic or centre of Islamic learning. The students of university study Islamics in detail that include the glorious Qur’an, the hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)), Islamic Law (Sharia Law) and memorize the entire Qur’an in Arabic language. They also study logic, rhetoric, and modern sciences. It is the first universities in the world that teaches religion along with secular and modern subjects in the curriculum that has survived since 972. It is also the oldest degree-granting university in Egypt. The university is associated with Al-Azhar Mosque. It is believed that it was established by the Fatimid’s dynasty.

11. Saqqara

Saqqara is mostly a vast area of desert and the step pyramid is the major attraction. Saqqara is home to the first pyramid of Cairo – The Pyramid of Djoser which is famously known as the Step Pyramid of Saqqara. There are also other pyramids that are present in the form of ruins near the parking area. Near Saqqara you can also find underground that you can explore. There are also some sights on the other side of the step pyramid that are worth visiting.

12. The hanging church

The hanging church is the oldest church in old Cairo region. It is layered hanging as it was constructed on the remains of 2 previous towers that remain from an old fortress that was known as the fortress of Babylon. This beautiful church has been committed to Virgin Mary and Saint Dimiana and it was constructed during the late 3rd century and the early 4th. It also got renovated and reconstructed several times since then. In the church you will find 110 icons.

13. Islamic/Fatimid  Cairo

Islamic Cairo is quite usually also referred to as Fatimid Cairo is absolutely mesmerizing. It was the centre of Cairo for eight centuries, from its founding in 969 AD by the Fatimid through the Ayyubid and Mamluke periods, and until the 18th century when Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire. This region is very rich in architectural with almost 800 listed historic buildings, which includes some of the most visited historic sites like the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, el-Azhar Mosque, the Citadel and many more. Take a look at the Travelogues, “Images from Old Cairo” and Images from Fatimid Cairo for more pictures from this area.

14. Memphis

Memphis is the capital city of ancient Egypt which was founded in 3000 BC – during the old kingdom. It is considered as the center for commerce and trade hence, was a famous place full of business activities during its glory days. It is to be found 20 kilometers south of Cairo; Memphis is near and around the cities and towns of Mit Rahina, Dahshur, Abusir, Abu Gorab, and Zawyet el Aryan. What all you can find here is the old kingdom capital is just a small open-air museum and the huge statue of Rameses II laying on its back located inside a 2-level building structure and surrounded by blocks of other historical findings in the ancient capital.

15. Pharaonic Village

If you are interested in knowing the history and culture of Egyptian life, what it was during the times of the pharaohs, then you must visit this palace. You first ride on a motorized raft that sails around an island and on the banks are simulated scenes with live actors who demonstrate how life was before: farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, etc. even their houses and lifestyle.

16. Al Azhar Park

Al Azhar Park is a very famous park of Cairo among tourists as well as the local people, once you are tired of the bustling and exhausting city tours, it’s really a respite coming to the park, just sit or lay around the grassy lawn, watch people, families, and kids having their picnics around the area. This park is a huge park and is ideal for families. Here you will also get the chance to have a beautiful view of the whole area on a 360 degrees angle. There’s a fountain, a small lake, a restaurant and several drinks vendors, and so many places to just relax under a shade of trees.

17. mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun

The mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun is considered as one of the oldest mosques in Cairo. It was built from mud bricks and was completed in 879 AD. It is also the third largest mosque in the world. The main reason for its popularity is its minaret. Only one other minaret in the world (Iraq) has an external spiral staircase. It is worth the climb of 168 steps – the views from the lower balcony are stunning – only the imam can go to the top. The wood carving on the minbar is particularly fine.

18. Sphinx

The Sphinx is situated at the bottom of the Pyramid of Khafre. Sphinxes were the famous guardian divinity in Egyptian mythology. It is nothing but a human head attached to a lion’s body. It measures 73m long and 20m high. Primeval Egyptians believed that this monument possessed prophetic powers. You will surely wonder where his nose has gone, because it is said to be hit by a cannon fire so as his beard. The nose has never been found but the beard is now in London’s British Museum. But researchers believe the main causes of Sphinx deterioration are wind, erosion, pollution and mass tourism.

19. City of the dead (Qarafa)

City of the dead which is also known as Qarafa is considered as one of the strangest, but at the same time interesting places to visit in Cairo. It is said that this place is the resting place for the dead was transformed in a residential area and today is home for many poor inhabitants. Don’t miss the City of the Dead, in fact two large burial grounds. They’re filled with mosques and other ancient buildings.

20. Al Hussein Mosque

Al Hussein Mosque was constructed in the year 1154 and named after the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Hussein Ibn Ali. It is believed that Hussein’s head is buried on the mosque’s ground making it one of Cairo’s holiest Islamic sites. This beautiful mosque is a huge one and has a big park cum market in front. It also houses the oldest complete manuscript of the Holy Qur’an. People who enter the mosque end up on the mausoleum part which is quite impressive and said to be the oldest part of the mosque.

21. The Orthodox Church of St. George

The Orthodox Church of St. George which is a greek orthodox church, is the only round church in Egypt. Initially constructed during the 10th century, the present church standing is actually built in the year 1904. The entrance of the compound is through a gate along the main road and you will have to climb a long wide flight of stairs going to the inside of the church. St. George is a popular warrior saint. The church is the seat of the Greek Patriarch of Alexandria. The interior and dome of the church is impressive albeit dark.

22. Dahur and the Red Pyramids/Bent Pyramid

Dahur and the Red Pyramids are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cairo. Here you can enter the Red Pyramid at no extra charge and even take photos inside. The passageway is quite steep and narrow; it can also be quite hot and claustrophobic in there. You can also take photos of the Bent Pyramid in the distance from the Red Pyramid, but are not allowed to go up to it, as it lies inside a military zone which is guarded.

23. Al-Azhar Mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque is one of most historic places in entire Cairo. It is a beautiful combination of a mosque, university and cultural center. It was constructed by Gawhar Al-Sikilly. It was the first mosque in the Fatimid Cairo. Construction started in 970 AD and finished in 972 AD. Al-Azhar is named to honor Fatima Az-Zahraa, the daughter of Muhammad, from whom the Fatimid Dynasty claimed descent. Al-Azhar is considered by most Sunni Muslims to be the most prestigious school of Islamic law, and its scholars are seen as the highest scholars in the Muslim world. It maintains a committee to judge on individual Islamic questions, a printing establishment for printing the Qur’an, and trains preachers.

24. Alabaster Mosque

The Muhammad Ali Mosque is constructed after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and it is recognized as The Alabaster Mosque as it has the decoration of its facade. It was constructed during 1830 and 1848. Primarily the French architect Pascal Coste was hired but then for unknown reason, Mohamed Ali changed his mind and hired Yusuf Bushnaq as an architect of the mosque. Within the southwest corner of the mosque you will find the marble cenotaph of Mohamed Ali, moved there from one of his successor, King Abbas I.

25. Coptic Museum

The Coptic Museum is one of the well known Museums of Cairo, housing the world’s most important collection of Coptic. It is considered as a must see for people who are interested in the subject of Coptic antiquities. The security is stringent; you have to pass through an xray machine for your stuff and yourself and also you cannot get camera inside the museum, though you can take pictures outside of the museum but not inside.

26. Ben Ezra Synagogue

Ben Ezra’s Temple has been erected in the 6th Century AD which makes it one of the oldest surviving synagogues, though it is now a museum more than a functioning synagogue. The legend says that until the 9th century, there was a church instead. The Jewish community bought it from Copts who needed the money to pay taxes to the Islamic rulers. And according to another legend Moses was found here by Pharaoh’s daughter. It is also said that the in 19th century over 400,000 objects were discovered there.

27. The Alabaster Sphinx

In the remains of Memphis found close to the yellow concrete pavilion, which houses the 13 meters high colossus of Ramses II, stands the massive limestone Alabaster Sphinx. It is said that it was carved mostly in honor of Hatshepsut, during 1700 and 1400 BC. The Alabaster Sphinx is 8 meters long and 4 meters tall and weighs around 90 tons. It is considered that the statue may have been destroyed after Hatshepsut’s death and has decomposed over the centuries. Sphinx is a cultural import in archaic Greek mythology, where it received its name.

28. Giza Zoo

It is said that because of the Avian Flu epidemic the zoo was closed for some time in the year 2006 but reopened shortly. It is not one of the best zoos you might have seen before. Animals are sometimes kept in small cages and what to us are domestic cats and dogs [left by expats returning home] are kept in the heat. However, the grounds are spacious and well-arbores. Children are allowed to help the keepers feed the animals, and there is a children’s enclosure with horse and cart ride round the elephants at 20 girish extra charge.

29. Cairo Opera House

The Opera House of Cairo is one the best places to visit. This contemporary Cairo Opera House was constructed in the year 1988 with Japanese cooperation. It is a famous monumental location to be found in the heart of the Gezira, the northern Nile Island in the centre of Cairo, was a symbolic move meant to keep Egypt in the cultural limelight. The same is said about Khedive Ismail’s decision in 1869 to build the Khedivial Opera House (later known as the Royal Opera House) for the inauguration of the Suez Canal. He employed Italian architects to swiftly complete an opera house modeled after la Scala in Milan, and commissioned Giuseppe Verdi to write Aida to be premiered at his new theatre.

30. Memphis Museum (Ramses II room)

The Ramses II room is to be found in Memphis Museum, the entrance fee will be included in Memphis Museum ticket. The room will locate on your right, behind the security checking. There are no restrictions on taking pictures inside. Your best pictures should be taken from the first floor. You will find stairs on your left after the room`s entrance. The huge statue of Ramses II was too difficult to be moved to other places, so they built the museum on the location where they have found this.

31. Downtown Cairo

Downtown Cairo mostly developed during the mid-1800s throughout the reign of French-educated Ismail – a Fatimid ruler who reigned for 16 years from the 1863 to 1879. It is one of the best places to visit and deserves at least a half-day’s worth of exploring. The area is regarded as the commercial capital of modern Cairo, but the buildings here, mostly pooly-maintained turn-of-the-century (of Belle Epoque vintage) architecture, are anything but modern.

32. Sayeda Zeinab mosque

Sayeda Zeinab mosque is famous among women in Cairo which is quite near to the metro stop. The main entrance is dedicated to the women and comparatively quite smaller entrance dedicated to men. It is one of the most beautiful mosques of Cairo. it has busy surrounding market area and typical Cairo setup with seeing women in their numbers going in and coming out of the mosque at prayer times.

33. The nilometer

The pharonic nilometer was a little upstream at Helwan: this was replaced in 715 by a nilometer on the present site, which in turn was reconstructed in 861 by the mathematician Ahmed ibn Muhammed. The middle pit is connected to the river by 3 tunnels, and the level of inundation can be measured on the graduated central shaft. And as soon as the level of flooding was known, the government could set the tax rate for the coming year. The nilometer is in a tiny park also containing a museum dedicated to Umm Kulthoum.

34. AL-HUSSEIN SQUARE

Midan Hussein is the square located right in the middle of Islamic Cairo between Al-Azhar Mosque and the Mosque of al-Hussein. It is considered as a popular meeting place for the locals. The square is reasonably large lined up with some palm trees and on one end, towards Khan el Khalili market, wits small restaurants and cafes. If you grab some time to sit in one of them, this place can be the right one taking the pleasure of the flavor of Egyptian life.

35. Al Rifa’I Mosque

The Al Rifa’I which is also known as Royal mosque was constructed to restore a small shrine to the medieval Islamic saint Al Rifa’i. It was commissioned in 1869 by the mother of the then Pasha, Khedive Isma’il for a dual purpose – to house relics and to be a mausoleum for the royal family – but not completed until1912. It is abundantly decorated with gold leaf and wood inlaind with ivory and Mother of Pearl and well worth a visit. General mosque visiting rules apply – see tip regarding Alabaster mosque. The ruins of the exiled Reza Shah Pahlavi lay here for a while.

36. Wikala el-Ghouri

Wikala el-Ghouri is built during 1505, is a caravanserai that once housed merchants and goods arriving in Cairo. It is part of the large el-Ghouri complex but in a separate building. It was constructed by one of the last Mamluke Sultans, Qunsuh el-Ghouri. It is to be found near el-Azhar Mosque and Khan el-Khalili and was meticulously restored in recent years. This Wikala is a incredible example of a rehabilitation of a historic building, where the upper floors have been converted into an atelier for local artists and artisans, whose work is exhibited for sale in a medieval vaulted gallery on the ground floor.

37. Mosque of Sultan Hassan

The Sultan Hassan Mosque is one of the early mosques of Cairo. It is large and within there is a wonderful sense of light and shadow. The hanging lanterns, the arches, the muwaddah for ablutions, the minbar all are interesting. The entrance to the mosque is also beautiful with its vertical panels and spiral pilasters. It gives you a best example of Mamluke architecture. The mausoleum has bronze doors with gold incrustations. There is a lso a wood painted frieze.

38. Bal El-Futuh

Bal El-Futuh which is also known as Gate of Conquest is the gate where you should be starting your tour of Islamic Cairo. It is located at the north end of the once most popular Mui’z Street. The meaning of Futuh is victory and was constructed on the command of Vizier Badr ElDin ElGamali who employed 3 Syrian brothers from Edessa who built the 3 gates (Bab ElFutuh, Bab AnNasr, Bab Zuweila) of the Fatimid walls to protect the city against attack. The great caravan of people doing the pilgrimage from Makah, enter this gate onto the Citadel.

39. Bab Zuweila

It is said that Bab Zuweila is the only surviving southern city gate from the Fatimid period. It was constructed in 1092. In the 15th century, the spectacular red and white striped Mosque of al-Mu’ayyad was constructed nearby to Bab Zuweila, while the mosque’s twin minarets were constructed over the gate. Until the last century, public executions were held just outside Bab Zuweila. In 2001-2005, both the mosque and gate underwent a much-needed re-establishment project that returned them to their former glory. Visitors are permitted to climb the minarets for fantastic views of Cairo.

40. Tomb of Ptah Hotep

The hieroglyphics on the walls are not just painted on but actually engraved so that they are raised from the wall. Here you are not allowed to take photographs in the tombs. Don’t forget to include this place on your trip to Cairo. It is surely a worth and truly fascinating.

41. museum of Islamic art

The museum of Islamic art is one of the prominent museums in Cairo. The 1400 old years of Islamic history and heritage of Egypt is preserved here. History is witness that many Muslim empires passed through Egypt and they left treasures of their civilizations behind, much of their art and culture is on exhibit at the Museum of Islamic Art. The Italian architect, Alfonso Manescalo designed this beautiful Islamic museum in 1904.

42. Ibrahim pasha statue

The Ibrahim pasha statue is one of the famous statues of Cairo. As the great Pasha was often seen on the horse back, the artist, Charles Henri Joseph Cordier created equestrian statue to decorate this beautiful square. The equestrian statue of Ibrahim pasha is located in the middle of Opera Square, another busy square in downtown Cairo. The statue was erected in the honor of the Ibrahim Pasha who reigned in his own right only seventy-five days, but also held power for some time during the insanity of Mohamed, by his son Ismail.

43. Belly dancing show

Belly dancing show is a very famous dancing show of Cairo; tourists from all over the world appreciate this dance. Here you will find lot of places offering you Belly Dancing Shows. A lot of hotels also put on belly dancing shows but by far the best are the traditional ones in the clubs of downtown Cairo. Raqs Sharqi is a very famous classic Egyptian belly dance of the 19th century and translates as oriental dance. These dances are extremely mesmerizing and many belly dancers are national celebrities.

44. Abdeen Palace

Abdeen Palace is a historic Cairo palace, and one of the official residences and the principal workplace of the President of Egypt, located above Qasr el-Nil Street in eastern Downtown Cairo. It was constructed on the site of a tiny mansion owned by Abidin Bey, Abdeen Palace. It is considered one of the most luxurious palaces in the world in terms of its adornments, paintings, and large number of clocks scattered in the parlors and wings, most of which are adorned with pure gold. Presently it is a museum, located in the Old Cairo district of Abdeen. The upper floors, it is said that it was previously the living quarters of the royal family, are reserved for visiting foreign dignitaries. The lower floors contain the Silver Museum, the Arms Museum, the Royal Family Museum, and the Presidential Gifts Museum.

45. Al Mokattam Mountain

It is believed that the Mokattam Mountain to be the only real mountain in Cairo by most of the Egyptians, although many outsiders consider it more of a hill. It is a very beautiful mountain with approximately 400 feet high and lays immediately to the east of the city. One can go through the famous Salah Salem and take a right and be at the beginning of the road going up to the Mokattam Mountain. It is said be a very pleasant drive and the twists and turns if offers around many curves are simply amazing.

46. The Manial Palace

The Manial Palace is considered to be built for Prince Mohammad Ali during 1899 and 1929. This palace was given to the Egyptian nation in 1955. It is said that Prince Muhammad Ali is the first cousin of King Faruq and the younger brother of Khedive Abbas II Hilmi. It is contains 6 structures. Among these structures is a museum in which Faruq’s hunting trophies are found, the prince’s residence and furnishings and a museum in which some of the family’s memorabilia are found. You will also find some amazing gardens that have beautiful plants and flowers that are worth seeing. The palace also includes a collection of manuscripts, carpets, textiles, brass work and crystal.

47. Bab Zuwayla

The Bab Zuwayla was constructed in the year 1092, and is where the Mamluk Sultans saw off the annual departure of the pilgrim caravan to Mecca. The minarets you find on the top of the gate belong to the 15th century Mosque al Mu’ayyad next door. It offers to its visitors a spectacular view of the city.

48. Rawdah Island

Rawdah Island is composed of bedrock and probably always existed, though its placement in the Nile has changed. In the Dynastic period, it was referred to as Per-hapi-n-On which means the House of the Nile of On. Rawdah Island has a very rich history. Monumental buildings certainly were built here, destroyed and built again throughout the history of Egypt, though no remains of ancient monuments remain. It enjoyed a position in the Nile between the northern limits of ancient Memphis on the west bank of the Nile, and Heliopolis on the east bank. However, the Island was more closely associated with Heliopolis. Rawdah was once located closer to the center of the Nile. Most of the more interesting history of the island comes to us from the Islamic period. For example, it was here that the riverine (Bahri) Mamluks were housed. The Mamluks of Egypt were a ruling faction during the middle ages but there were various factions of Mamluks.

49. Military National Museum 

The Military Museum is a very famous museum which is situated in the Citadel. It contains collections of weapons and costumes illustrating warfare in Egypt from ancient times. The most prominent among them are its artifacts of the 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli attacks. This museum off course is worth a visit and as you explore the many rooms of the museum you will notice statues of soldiers wearing various uniforms and costumes from different eras. Notice how the soldiers uniforms have drastically change over time. It also has a section on the pre-revolution days showing how the Egyptians fought for their freedom from British occupation.

50. Mahmud Pasha Mosque

Mahmud Pasha Mosque is a well known Mosque of Cairo which is to be found just below the Citadel, the Mahmud Pasha Mosque is one of several old mosques in the area. It was constructed in the 16th century in the early Ottoman period, but followed Islamic architectural style, with the exception of its Ottoman-style minaret.


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