Cairo is famous for its ancient past, including the Al-Azhar Mosque that dates to 972AD. The Coptic part of the city where Roman towers still stand and churches host early Christian art. Tourists arriving in Cairo should be prepared for the bustle of a big city, Cairo is Africa’s most populous city, with more than 20 million people living in the metro area.
Grand Egyptian Museum
Cairo’s highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum opening in mid 2021 is the largest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization. Located just 2km from the Great Pyramids, the museum displays the treasures of ancient Egyptian. The city has seen its own share of history in its lifetime, including occupations by the Ottomans and British. Cairo is famous for its ancient past, including the Al-Azhar Mosque that dates to 972AD. The Coptic part of the city where Roman towers still stand and churches host early Christian art.
The Giza Pyramids complex lies on the west bank of the Nile, on the city’s outskirts. The UNESCO Heritage-listed site is home to six pyramids; magnificent burial tombs built for the kings of the 4th dynasty around 4,500 years ago. This includes The Great Pyramid, built for King Khufu, and its cloud-grazing 480ft (146m) apex. In the shadow of the pyramids, camel owners seek shade for their animals on breaks, in between offering 15-minute rides.
The Medea Nile Cruise is the perfect way to explore the Nile and the treasures that line its west bank. The Nile island of Gezira is home to the district of Zamalek and the majority of Cairo’s arty boutiques and hipster restaurants. Dating from the mid 19th century, the entire area has a distinctly European feel to its architecture. Cruising also offers a great way to hop off to visit the temples, including Kom Ombo, gods the only one dedicated to two gods: the crocodile-headed Sobek and falcon-headed Horus the Elder. Many still have intact hieroglyphics adorning their walls, providing a fascinating insight into Egyptian culture.
Al-Azhar Mosque is right in the heart of the Islamic Cairo district and easy to reach by taxi, Al-Azhar Street runs east from Midan Ataba in the downtown area right to the square where the mosque sits. The main entrance is the Gate of the Barbers on the northwest side of the building, adjoining the neo-Arab facade built by Abbas II. Leave your shoes at the entrance and walk into the central courtyard.
Cairo’s Christian Community
Coptic Cairo lies within the walls of Old Babylon, where the Roman Emperor Trajan first built a fortress along the Nile. The Coptic Museum contains a wealth of information on Egypt’s early Christian period. The Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus is where local legend says the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and family sheltered during King Herod’s massacre.