The capital of Egypt, is the cradle of civilization. From here the roads lead to three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. Greater Cairo extends from the banks of the River Nile to the south of its delta. This is the city where past
and present meet. On its east side the 2000 years old Christian Coptic Quarter. On its west side the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis (Giza), the renowned capital of the Old Kingdom and the site of the Pyramids, the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Ancient Egyptian Monuments in Cairo:
The Pyramids of Giza
The ancient Egyptians believed in resurrection and immortality and built the Pyramids as tombs to preserve the bodies of their dead kings. The Pyramids of Giza are situated on the western side of Greater Cairo, about 10kms from downtown.
The Great Pyramid
The only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramid was built by King Khufu (Cheops) of the IV. Dynasty in 2650 BC. Its height today measures 137m (original height 146m). 2.5 million stone blocks were necessary to complete this monument built with a precision which poses more questions to the experts than it provides answers. Close to the eastern flank of the Pyramid of Khufu lie three small pyramids dedicated to his wives.
The Second Pyramid
Built by Khafre (Chephren) south-west of his father Khufu’s pyramid with a height of 136m. This pyramid once was totally covered with limestone to give it a smooth surface. Its upper part still contains some of this covering. The entire base measures 215.5 square meters. The pyramid has two entrances on the north side. Its interior is simple. The remains of the mortuary temple with its rising causeway are still visible. This temple witnessed the religious rites during the embalming of the body.
The Third Pyramid
Built by Menkaure (Mycerinus) south-west of the Great and Second Pyramid. This pyramid with its height of 62m is much smaller than the other two. On the lower part of its sides the original granite slab coverings are still to be seen.
The Solar Boats of Khufu
During the construction of the Great Pyramid spacious rooms were hewn into the surrounding natural rock near the pyramid and large wooden boats placed there for the afterworld voyage of the dead king on his journey of Day and Night with the Sun-God Ra. Recent excavations unearthed three such sun-boat sites on the east side of the Great Pyramid and two others on the south side. After removing the huge stone slabs, archaeologists found a large boat made of cedar wood in a very good condition. There were also other implements such as oars, ropes and a wooden cabin. The boat is 43.5 m long, prow and stern 5m and 7m high, respectively. A special museum south of the pyramid was built to house the sun boats of the king.
The 70m long and 20m high statue of the Sphinx guards the way to the Valley Temple. One of the most famous monuments in the world with the body of a lion and the face of a man which resembles that of King Kephren.
Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, was built by King Menes 24kms south-west of Cairo. The colossal recumbent statue of Ramses II is exhibited in the local museum. This statue is by far the most beautiful representation of Ramses II. It is made of fine-grained limestone, is 13 meters long, and weighs 120 tons. The
embalming temple for the sacred Apis Bull is also located in Memphis.
Saqqara is the oldest ancient Egyptian necropolis situated on a desert plateau south-west of Cairo. The step-pyramid of King Zoser built by his engineer Imhotep rises above the mortuary complex. The pyramid has six receding mastabas on top of each other. The Pyramid measures 123.5 by 107m at the base and stands 59m high.
The Dahshour Pyramids
The pyramid complex of Dahshour is situated in South Saqqara. Among others, the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid are the most famous. The Red Pyramid is the oldest and for the time being the only pyramid open to visitors. The Bent Pyramid with its strange architectural angles is built from locally quarried limestone.
The Egyptian Museum
One of the best known museums worldwide is the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. The ancient history of Egypt over a period of 50 centuries accompanies visitors. The main attraction, nevertheless, is the magnificent Tutankhamun (King Tut) collection.
Islamic Monuments in Cairo
Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas
The first mosque built in Egypt and all Africa. Simple in its design and containing architectural elements from different periods.
Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun
Characteristic with its spacious halls, the unique spiral minaret and a large collection of gypsum decoration.
The first Fatimid mosque in Cairo founded by Gawhar El Sikilli in AD 971 both as a mosque and a madrassa (school). It is named after Fatma, the daughter of the prophet Mohamed and is considered the oldest Islamic University. The first lecture was hold here AD 975.
Mosque of Sultan Hassan
Founded by the Mamelouk ruler Al Nasser Hassan Bin-Mohamed Bin-Qalawon as a mosque and a school to accommodate the four main thesisses of Sunnism.
One of the most impressing decorated mosques in Cairo, this monument is located near the Citadel of Salah El-Din and the mosque of Sultan Hassan. Farouk, the former king of Egypt and Reza Pahlevi, the former Shah of Persia, are burried here.
Mosque of Al-Moayyed
Built in the 15th Century. Its minaret rises above Bab Zuweila, one of the old city gates.
The Blue Mosque
Founded by Prince Aqsunqur Al-Nassery in AD 1347. It contains most susceptible blue mosaics on its walls.
The Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali
Built in AD 1830 on the northern side of the Citadel with an impressive interior design.
Other Islamic Sites
Fortress of Salah El-Din (Saladin)
Known as Citadel and built by Salah El-Din Al-Ayyuby in AD 1183. Overlooking the city of Cairo it houses a number of important monuments including the mosque of Soliman Pasha, the Alabaster Mosque, the 90m deep Joseph’s Well, and a military museum.
The Museum of Islamic Art
The museum is considered the most important in the Middle East and houses 80,000 rare objects dating from early Islam to the Ottoman Period.
Christian Coptic Monuments in Cairo
The Hanging Church
Built during the 4th and 5th Century on top of the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon.
St Macarius Church
The church was built in the 6th Century AD and is located in the oldest historical area of Cairo.It houses the crypt of St. Barsoum Al-Arian and other important relics as well as a well preserved collection of Coptic icons.
St George Church
St George was built on the ruins of an ancient church. It has an unique hall dating to the 13th Century AD.
St Mark Cathedral
The cathedral is the largest modern church in Africa and reflects the architectural revolution of art. The remains of St Mark, who brought Christianity to Egypt, are laid to rest here after retrieving the remains from Venice where they had rested since the Middle Ages.
Other Coptic Sites
The Coptic Museum
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.
Modern Attractions in Cairo
The new Opera House at the Gezira Exhibition Grounds was inaugurated in October 1988. It replaces the Old Opera House which was destroyed by fire four decades ago. Designed by a team of Japanese and Egyptian architects, it is an architectural masterpiece of Islamic design.
Standing over 180m tall, this tower is one of the outstanding attractions of modern Cairo. Visitors will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Cairo from the observation platform.
Sound and Light Show
In an enchanting atmosphere in the historical setting beneath the Sphinx and the Pyramids the audience is captivated by the spectacular show with sound, light and music reviving ancient times, the history of the Pyramids and the glory of the Pharaohs. The show is represented in seven languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
The Pharaonic Village
Historical spectacle reflecting the lifestyle in ancient Egypt. Visitors witness the daily activities of the ancient Egyptian people. The village also contains a papyrus museum.
Khan El-Khalili Bazaar
This historic oriental bazaar has many shops dating to the 14th century AD. Khan El-Khalili is famous for the magnificent variety of gold and silver works, embroidery, spices, leather goods, glass ware and hand carved woodwork.
Cairo by Night
Theater houses and cinemas offer a variety of national plays and the latest Arab and foreign films. Casinos and famous night-clubs provide a wide range of entertainment including belly dancing, folklore and international shows.