Cairo:A City Filled with Wonder and History

Cairo (the victorious city) located on the river Nile is the capital of Egypt. It is one of the most populated cities in the world with a population of over 16 million. Cairo is not only known for its population but also for the diversity the city has to offer. It is safe to say that Cairo is on the bucket list for tourists and for history geeks. Because of modernization, the city and the tourist have a love-hate relationship. Once the smoke clears and the city reveals itself, one can't help but fall in love with it. If you are planning a trip to Cairo, here are a few places that you should consider visiting.

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Cairo:A City Filled with Wonder and History:table of contents

1. Al-Azhar Mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque built in AD972 is one of the most admirable buildings representing the Cairo's Fatimid era. it was given the status of a university by Caliph El-Aziz in AD 988, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. The main gate of the mosque, the Gate of the Barbers, is on the northwest side of the building. Out of respect, people are asked to leave their shoes at the entrance. As you walk inside you find yourself in the central courtyard. The courtyard gives the complete view of the five minarets of the mosque which puts the finishing touch to the mosque. El-Taibarsiya Medrese is on the right from the courtyard and has a mihrab (prayer niche) from 1309. The main prayer hall which is a vast 3,000 square meters' area is across the courtyard.

2. Pyramids of Giza

On one of the corners of the city, stands the pyramids of Giza. The destination is the most visited half day trip of every tourist. The pyramids, although don't have much to offer are still the highlight of the city and no trip can be complete without visiting the pyramids. The largest pyramid of the Giza Group is called the pyramids of Khufu. It can be explored from the inside through its narrow passages but there is not much to see except a tomb chamber with an empty sarcophagus. The solar boat museum is present directly behind the great pyramid which is dedicated to the exhibit of the reconstructed Khufu Solar Ship.

3. Egyptian museum

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The Egyptian museum founded in 1857 by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette is one of the world's greatest museum. The museum has a collection of Egyptian antiquities. Due to the vast collection of antiques and a limit of space, only some items are on display while all the others are in the storeroom. The history associated with each antique is so fascinating you forget all about the limitations of the place. If you are crazy about jewelry, don't forget to stroll through the Egyptian Jewellery Collection (Room 4). The room contains more sparkle than one can see in their who lives. If you are low on time and must cut your tour short, here are a few things you must see in the museum. The Tutankhamun's death mask and sarcophagi in Room 3. The Pharaoh's lion throne in Room 35. The Tutankhamun's outstanding wardrobe collection in Room 9. Of course, the tour cannot end without viewing the Royal Mummies Collection in Room 56 and 46) where you will find the mummies of Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis II, Ramses II and Seti I.The easiest way to reach the museum is to take the Cairo metro to Sadat station and follow the exit sign to the museum.

4. Khan el-Khalili

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A few souvenirs and gifts for the friends and family are necessary for every trip. The perfect place where you can find traditional Egyptian things in the Khan el-Khalili. It is a network of long maze-like alley consisting of small tributaries. There you can find lampshades and beautiful locally woven textiles. The famous Cairo coffee shop Fishawis is also located in the alley. The interesting thing about this shop is it gives out syrupy Arabic coffee and sweet tea to the tourists on the go. This can be your next stop at Al-Azhar mosques since it is just across it.

5. Bab Zuweila

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The Bab Zuweila is the perfect place to have the rooftop view of the city. It is one of the gates to the Islamic Cairo district. The two minarets add beauty to the gate making it one of the most beautiful places in Cairo. The gate is the last southern gate of the old town. You can find this gate at Al-muiz li-Din Allah street, Islamic Cairo District.

6. Al Azhar Park

Cairo is not all about history and mosques, The Al-Azhar park located on the Salah Salem street is the perfect getaway from the city's pollution and the hustle bustle. The park provides a magnificent view of the city at sunset. There are also a few good restaurants which make it the perfect place to have a quiet relaxing day during the trip.

7. Downtown Cairo

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Did you know that during the 19th century the city was nicknamed ‘Paris of the east'? the downtown Cairo takes us back in time to the 19th century Cairo. The entire area is crammed with gorgeous but falling apart romantic buildings that would have been the candy of the eye when they were first built. If you don't mind the traffic while crossing roads, I suggest you walk through the entire area. It will be all worth it.

8. Zamalek

Photo by Mohamed Hakem/

All the foodies and Art lovers should pay a visit to Zamalek. It has Cairo's top dining places and the southern tip of the island has a cluster of art galleries to explore. The whole area has a touch of Europe to it with its Jacaranda trees and huge romantic mansions. A visit up to the observational deck at sunset to see the city turn into magic is a must.

9. Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus

For the Christian tourist, the main highlight of the city is the church of St. Sergius and Bacchus located in Coptic Cairo. The local legends say that this is the place where Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and family sheltered during King Herod's massacre of male babies. It is one of the oldest churches in Egypt. There is a cave nearby where the family hid during the massacre. This beautifully preserved church is definitely a sight to be seen

10. Ibn Tulun mosque

Ibn Tulun mosque which was inspired by Kaaba in Mecca is the second oldest mosque still standing in Cairo. It was built between AD 876 and 879. It was the largest mosque when it was built. The mosque is filled with pleasant smells of its older decorations of wood and stucco. The staircase to the upper platform has 173 stairs, and after that exercise, you get an astonishing view of the Mokattam hills in the east and the view is worth the exercise.

◎ Closing

A city with history has a lot of tales to tell. Cairo is full of history. All its tales cannot be heard in just one trip but you can try to listen to the most important ones. The city has something for everybody. It doesn't matter if you like history or landscapes or art or shopping. It's a place that will not let you be bored for even a minute