Cairo, The Capital

     
Cairo, Egypt, the Triumphant City, known officially as al-Qahirah is one of the world's largest urban areas and offers many sites to see. It is the administrative capital of Egypt; it contains many monuments such as the Great Pyramids of Giza on the very edge of the city, ancient temples, tombs, Christian churches, magnificent Muslim monuments, and of course, the Egyptian Antiquities Museum all either within or nearby the city.  

Cairo, Egypt provides great culture, including art galleries,music halls,and an incredible selection of shopping, ranges from the famous Khan el-Khalili souk, (or bazaar) unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned centers displaying the latest fashions,leisure and nightlife activities.

Ancient Egyptian Monuments in Cairo


Memphis and Saqqara    
Memphis, the oldest capital of Egypt, was built by King Menes, and lies 24 k.m south-west of Cairo. The colossal statue of Ramses II is exhibited in the museum. This is the most beautiful representation of Ramses II. It is made of fine-grained limestone, 13 meters long, and weighs 120 tons. Also in Memphis is the Temple for Embalming the Sacred Apis Bull Saqqara is the oldest Ancient Egyptian cemetery. It lies on a desert plateau, south-west of Cairo. Above rises the Step-Pyramid and mortuary compound, built by the engineer lmenhotep for King Zoser. It is composed of six receding Mastabas on top of each other. The Pyramid measures 123.5 by 107 m at the base and about 59 m in height. South of the Step-Pyramid, lies the Pyramid of Unas, last of the V Dynasty pharaohs. It is noted for its tomb chamber whose walls are inscribed with the "Pyramid Texts", and whose ceiling is decorated with stars. Near to the Pyramid of Unas lies the Persian Shaft, a tomb of XXVI (Persian) Dynasty, 25 m deep.  


The Pyramids of Giza    
The Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids as tombs to preserve the bodies of their dead kings especially that they believed in resurrection and immortality after death. The Pyramids of Giza lie at the western edge of Greater Cairo, about 10 k.m from downtown. Giza pyramids are three pyramids.  
The Great Pyramid
The most famous structure in the world and the only surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built by King Khufu (Cheops) of the IV Dynasty around 2650 BC. lts height now is 137 m (original height: 146 m). Almost 2.5 million blocks of stone were put into building this pyramid.

The Second Pyramid
Built by Khafre (Chephren), south-west of his father's (Khufu's) pyramid. Though it is lower in height: 136 m, It still retains, on some of its upper parts, the remains of the limestone that had once covered it all. At the base, it measures 215.5 m square. The Third Pyramid
Built by Menkaure (Mysterious), south-west of the Great and Second Pyramids. It is much smaller than either one (62 m high). It is distinguished by the fact that the lower parts of its sides still retain their granite slab coverings.


The Sphinx    
On the way to the Temple of the Valley, lies the large statue of the Sphinx. It is indeed a legendary statue for it has the body of lion and the face of a man. It is 70 m long and 20 m high. The face of the Sphinx closely resembles that of King Kephren.  


The Egyptian Museum (Tahrir Square)
One of the most prominent museums in the world, it offers visitors a chance to aquaint themselves with Egypt's ancient history over a period of 50 centuries. Its most significant showpiece is the magnificent Tutankhamen (King Tut) collection.


Christian Coptic Monuments in Cairo

Al-Muaallaqah (Hanging) Church
Constructed around the 4th or 5th Century, this basilica was named "Al-Muaallaqah" because it was built on top of the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon.

Church of Abu Sergah (St. Sergius)
Dating back to the beginning of the 5th Century, the basilica is built on the cave in which the Holy Family is believed to have stayed when they came to Egypt. It is regarded by visitors as a source of blessing.

Church of Mari Guirguis (St. George)
Built on the ruins of an ancient church, the church of St. George has a unique hall dating to the 13th Century AD. It was named after St. George, a victim of early Roman persecution.

The Coptic Museum (Old Cairo)
The museum houses a rare collection of ancient Christian relics including remains of architectural works, textiles, icons and old manuscripts reflecting the history of Coptic civilization.


Islamic Monuments in Cairo

The Mosques

Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas (Al-Fustat)
It was the first mosque built in Egypt and Africa. It is simple in design and contains architecture elements from different periods.

Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Toulon
This is the third "large mosque" (gamee) built in Egypt. It is characterized by its spacious hall (saha), its unique spiral minaret and a large collection of gypsum decoration.

Al-Azhar Mosque    
The first Fatimid mosque in Cairo, it was founded in Midan Hussein by Gawhar al-Sikilli in AD 971 as both a mosque and Madrasah (school). It is named after Fatma al-Zahraa, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. It is considered the oldest Islamic University, the first lecture having been delivered in AD 975.  
Mosque of Sultan Hassan
Located at the end of Al-Qalaa (Citadel) Street, it was founded by Al-Nasser Hassan Bin-Mohammed Bin-Qalawon, a Mamelouk ruler, as a mosque and a school accommodating the four main sects (madhhabs) of Sunnism.

Al-Refai Mosque
One of the most nicely decorated mosques in Cairo, this monument is located near the Citadel of Salah-El-Din (Saladin) and the Mosque of Sultan Hassan. Here, several members of the former Royal Family (including King Farouk), as well as the ex-Shah of Iran, are buried.

The Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali
Built in AD 1830 on the northern elevated part of the Citadel, the mosque is visible to most parts of Cairo.

Other Islamic Sites

Fortress of Salah-Al-Din (Saladin)
Known as Al-Qalaa (the Citadel) and built by Salah-Al-Din Al-Ayyubi (Saladin) in AD 1183. Overlooking the city of Cairo from the Muqattam Hills, it houses a number of important monuments including the Mosque of Soliman Pasha, the Alabaster Mosque, the 90-meter deep Bir Yusuf (Joseph's Well) Al-Gawhara Palace, and a military museum.

House of Al-Seheimi
Located in Darb al-Asfar, it was founded in 1796 and constitutes another example of Islamic architecture.


Modern Attractions in Cairo


National Cultural Center (Opera House)
The new 7-storey opera house at the Gezira Exhibition Grounds was inaugurated in October 1988. It replaces the old Opera House which was burnt 4 decades earlier. Designed by a team of Japanese and Egyptian architects, it is an architectural masterpiece of Islamic design. It is equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual systems and comprises 3 theatres, rehearsal halls, a museum, and a library.


Cairo Tower (Gezira)    
Over 180 m (590 ft) high, it is the most outstanding attraction of modern Cairo. The first of the top two storeys is a rotating restaurant and cafeteria. Visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Cairo from the observation platform.  
Sound and Light Show
In an enchanting atmosphere, with sound, light, and music, the show captivates audiences and makes re-live ancient times, the history of the Pyramids and the glory of the Pharaohs. The show is presented in seven languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

The Pharaonic Village
Historical spectacle reflecting the style of life of ancient Egyptians. Visitors witness the daily activities of the ancient Egyptian people. The Village also contains a papyrus museum. The visit lasts two hours.

Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar and Sagh
Comprising an array of shops dating to the 14th Century AD, Khan Khalili is renowned for its indigenous character and the magnificent variety of gold and silver works, embroidered clothing, leather goods and hand-carved woodwork.