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Perfect Tour Guide to Experience the Real Cairo
Cairo City is the capital of Egypt. It is the perfect place for a sunny vacation. More importantly, it is a safe city to travel to but beware of the pickpockets in busy streets. Cairo City has every facility and lots of tourist attractions for all preferences.
Here are some great places to visit in Cairo:
Pyramids of Giza
Counted among the handful of true wonders in the world, the Pyramids of Giza are an attraction for tourists of all ages. The enormity of these man-made funerary temples of the fourth dynasty is something to behold. If you are not intimidated by the gigantic pyramids or claustrophobic, do visit the Pyramid of Cheops where you can go inside and feel the past in your surroundings. See the Pyramid of Chephren, which is guarded by Sphinx with a lion and Pharaoh face on either side. Due to the relatively higher influx of visitors, it would be best to get a tour guide or to book a private tour to not miss out on anything good. People love to visit the Giza Plateau via a 25 minutes camel ride but you must remember to dress accordingly.
Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
The best way to explore a county’s past is by visiting its museums. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities has a staggering collection of history and culture to get lost in. It has about 136,000 items currently on display. The prized collections of this museum are archeological findings from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Another addition of Grand Egyptian Museum aka Giza Museum is set to be made at Giza Plateau.
It is one of those places that you cannot leave without experiencing everything it offers. Islamic Cairo has architecture, unique landscape, mosques, religious shrines and towers. All these historic monuments introduce you to a whole different era. The oldest mosque here is the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. It is recognized as the most beautiful mosque in Cairo. Build in the 9th century AD; it represents the Classical Islamic period and a rare instance of Abbasid architecture that managed to retain its original form. The Fatimids built a circuit of walls around the first settlement of ‘Fusat’. Its remnants can be seen at the ancient tower gates; Bab Zuwayla, Bab al-Futuh and Bab al-Nasr. You can climb the towers at Bab Zuwayla and enjoy the bird-eye view of the whole Islamic Cairo.
Mosque of al-Azhar, build in 970 AD, is another feat of the architecture of the Fatimid period. Over the centuries, other dynasties such as Mamluk and Al Ghauri etc made additions to this mosque. The Mamluks and various other Ottomans also built residential structures called the wikalas or caravanserais. They were used to house merchants and merchandise which boosted Cairo’s economy through trade and commerce. The best example of such a structure is Wikala al-Ghuri. It is in good shape even today and hosts performances of Egyptian heritage dance troupes.
Khan el-Khalili is a souq quarter that lies across Al-Azhar Mosque. It offers a truly unique experience of shopping in narrow winding streets. This Middle Eastern souq was established in 1400 AD and has all sorts of craftsmen hard at work. There are gold and silver shops, a spice market, handicrafts, perfumes (attar) shops. Another plus is that the prices here are lower than the shops at road-side bazaars or major tourist locations. It is a great place for buying true souvenirs like woolen textile or antique lampshades rather than the obvious and cheap papyrus pictures or the plastic pyramids. A visit to this bazaar also offers an opportunity for a local dining experience.
For history buffs, a visit to Old Cairo is perfect. It’s called old because Old Cairo is adjacent to the first Arab settlement, Fusat from the 7th century AD. Also, the remains of an ancient fortress of Babylon, built by Romans, make an interesting place to visit. Ben Ezra Synagogue is the best-known and historically the oldest Synagogue in Cairo. There are many other places in the vicinity to visit such as the Coptic Museum for information on the early Christian period in Egypt. The Hanging Church shows some magnificent 9th-century architecture. The Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus where according to the legends Virgin Mary and baby Jesus hid with their family during the male baby massacres carried out on the orders of King Herod.
A vacation can tickle your fancy if you manage to do it right. Explore and plan well to not miss out on the amazing things that Cairo City has to offer.