Cairo, the cradle of civilization,the Melting Pot of Ancient and Modern Egyptian Civilizations. It is the largest city in the Middle East and lies at the center of all routes leading to and from the three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe.It is the city where past and present meet. On its west side lies the Ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, and the site of the Pyramids, the only wonder surviving of the Seven Wonders of the World. Indeed, a journey through Cairo is a journey through time.
Cairo Tourist Attractions
Cairo, which Egyptians proudly call the 'Mother of All Cities', spreads along the banks of the River Nile for 40km (25 miles) north to south, the largest metropolis in Africa. Travelers through the ages have been both fascinated and repelled by Cairo. Visitors are intrigued by its twisting streets, medieval buildings, oriental bazaars and Islamic architecture of carved domes and sculpted minarets, while being appalled by its dirt, pollution, noise, crowds and constant demands for baksheesh (gratuities). cairo travel Paying baksheesh is the local custom. Culture shock is part of the experience of Cairo and can at times be wearing. But as is written in the ancient tales of the 1001 Nights, 'He who hath not seen Cairo, hath not seen the world'.
View of Pyramids from the Mena House Hotel Few other countries are so dominated by their capital: Cairo is Egypt. For Egyptians to speak of one is to speak of the other. The 'Mother of the World' nurtures more than 16 million Egyptians, Arabs, Africans and sundry international hangers-on in a collision of East and West, old and new, African and Arabic. She's overburdened with one of the world's highest population densities, which makes for a seething mass of people, buildings and cacophonous traffic.Cairo has been the heart of Egypt for more than 1000 years. Here the medieval world and the contemporary Western world clash in a confusion of mud-brick houses and towering modern office buildings, of flashy cars and donkey-drawn carts. Cairenes see nothing strange in this. They aren't driven by the Western obsession to update and upgrade. The resulting pervasive sense of timelessness is one of the city's great charms. At the end of the day, it's a city travelers either loveor hate; few come away indifferent.
Cairo Tower at Night Finding your way about Cairo's vast sprawl is not as difficult as it may seem. Midan Tahrir is at the center. Northeast of Tahrir and centered on Sharia Talaat Harb is Downtown, a bustling commercial district. The city's main train station at Midan Ramses marks Downtown's northernmost extent. Heading east, Downtown ends at Midan Ataba and the old medieval heart of the Cairo tourism city known as Islamic Cairo takes over.
Bordering Downtown to the west is the Nile River, which is obstructed by two sizeable islands. The more central of these, connected directly to Downtown by three bridges, is Gezira, home to the Cairo Tower and the Opera House complex. The west bank of the Nile is less historical and much more residential. The primary districts are Mohandiseen, Agouza, Doqqi and Giza, all of which are light on charm and heavy on concrete. Giza covers by far the largest area of the four, stretching some 20km (12.4mi) west on either side of the long, straight road that ends at the foot of the Pyramids.Suez Canal
In spite of a thousand years of history, Cairo is young by Egyptian standards, because modern Cairo emerged only with the Arab conquest of Egypt.
The most famous of Cairo's sights is the string of 60 pyramids that stretches along the western border of the desert. Contrary to the common belief, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu, not all three Great Pyramids, is on the list of Wonders. The monument was built by the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year BC 2560 to serve as a tomb when he dies.When it was built, the Great pyramid was 145.75 m high. Over the years, it lost 10 m off its top. It ranked as the tallest structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries. Throughout their history, the Cairo Tourist Attractions pyramids have stimulated human imagination.When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, his pride was expressed through his famous quote: "Soldiers! From the top of these Pyramids, 40 centuries are looking at us."
Cairo has been the most important arts center in the Islamic world for a thousand years. Cairo's long history and rich heritage are revealed in its many museums. The famous sights in this area are the Entomological Society Museum, with an excellent collection of Egyptian insects and birds.Also in the area is the museum housing the mysterious Sun Boat, only discovered in 1954 near the south side of the pyramid. The boat is believed to have been used to carry the body of Khufu in his last journey on earth before being buried inside the pyramid.
Cairo is a disorienting place but most of the city lies on the east bank of the River Nile. Visitors often feel most comfortable finding their feet in the Westernised downtown district of central Cairo around Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square). This is a public transport hub, separated from the Nile by the massive Nile Hilton Hotel. Here too is the city center's main attraction, the Egyptian Museum. Opposite downtown is the Nile island of Gezira, with the island of Roda just to the south. The Pyramids of Giza, however, Cairo attractions are on the west bank of the river, some 18km (11 miles) from the center. Old Cairo lies south of central Cairo, while Islamic Cairo encompasses a large area to the east. The city is growing rapidly, both in terms of population and geographical area, with new suburbs expanding on its outskirts, especially into the Eastern Desert. Northwest of the city center, near the airport, Heliopolis is home to many of Cairo's wealthy (and the Presidential Palace), while to the west, the middle-class suburb of Giza has expanded to within sight of the Pyramids.
Although Cairo today is Egypt's capital and largest city, teeming with some 18 million people, its position of prominence in the long timeline of Egyptian history is relatively recent. It did not even exist when the pyramids at Giza were constructed. Then, the town of Memphis, 24km (15 miles) to the south, was the Pharaonic capital. Cairo was not founded until the Romans rebuilt an old Persian fortress along the Nile in AD116, which was known as Babylon-in-Egypt, in today's Old Cairo district.
From the latter ninth century, a succession of Arab rulers made their mark on the city: Ibn Tulun built his royal city el-Qatai, the Fatimids built the walled city of el-Qahira, from which Cairo takes it name. In the 13th century, the Mamluks, a caste of Turkish soldier-slaves, rose to power, then the Ottomans, the French under Napoleon and finally the British ruled in their turn. The birth of modern Cairo came in 1863, when the ruler Ismail expanded the city along the Nile in the style of the great European cities. After the country returned to Egyptian rule in 1952, Cairo rose to the forefront as the capital of the Arab world.
Cairo is also called the 'City of 1000 Minarets' and it is the exotic skyline of graceful domes and towering minarets that casts a spell of magic over the grinding reality of the metropolis. Most visitors come to see the great Pyramids of Giza, the treasures of Tutankhamun's tomb and other wonders in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, as well as to shop in the sprawling Khan al-Khalili marketplace. There are also dozens of mosques, Coptic churches, smaller museums and winding streets to explore. This tourism is Egypt's key source of foreign income, while the public sector, including government and social services and the military, makes up the largest 'industry'. The city is also the center of a growing trade, finance and insurance sector.
During the summer, temperatures in Cairo can climb to 38 degrees Celsius, though the Cairo attractions low humidity is some consolation. The best time to visit is between October and April. Occasional downpours occur in January and February, while during March and April the khamseen, a strong, hot, dry wind, blows in periodically from the desert.
During rush hour in Tahrir Square, nothing moves but car horns. Once the gridlock breaks, a smoke-spewing bus jammed with riders overtakes a donkey-drawn vegetable cart, a bicycle beats out a stalled Mercedes and two taxis collide. Women clasp each other's hands to cross the street, gracefully slipping their bodies between passing cars with a hair's breadth to spare.
The amount of green space per resident is said to be smaller than a child's palm. Breathing the city's air pollution is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Despite the despair and madness of Cairo, foreigners have flocked here since the Cairo Tourist Attractions dawn of leisure travel. Travelers are seduced by the romance of Egypt's pyramids and desert, which evoke a feeling of eternity few can deny.
Cairo has a timeless quality most travelers relish. There's perhaps no better example than Khan el-Khalili, the Cairo travel city's 600-year-old bazaar. Goldsmiths, woodworkers, and tentmakers in the Khan carry on crafts passed down since medieval times.