A City of History and Culture

Cairo is the capital and largest city of Egypt, and one of the most populous and vibrant cities in the world. It is a city that combines ancient history with modern culture, offering visitors a wealth of attractions and experiences. Whether you are interested in exploring the pyramids, museums, mosques, or markets, Cairo has something for everyone. Here are some of the must-see places to visit in Cairo.

Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza are the most iconic and famous attraction in Cairo, and perhaps in all of Egypt. These ancient monuments, built more than 4,000 years ago, are the only surviving wonders of the ancient world. 

They are the tombs of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, and their queens. The largest and oldest pyramid, the Pyramid of Khufu, is also known as the Great Pyramid or the Pyramid of Cheops. It is the tallest man-made structure in the world until the 19th century, and it contains more than 2 million stone blocks. 

The Pyramid of Khafre is the second-largest and the most well-preserved, and it is the one that has the Sphinx, a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human’s head, guarding its entrance. The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest and the most elaborate, and it has three smaller pyramids for his wives. 

The pyramids are a marvel of engineering and architecture, and a testimony to the power and glory of the ancient Egyptians.

You can visit the pyramids by taking a bus, taxi, or tour from Cairo. The entrance fee is 200 EGP (about 13 USD) for the Giza Plateau, which includes access to the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Solar Boat Museum. You can also enter the pyramids for an additional fee, but be prepared for narrow and dark passages, and a lot of heat and humidity. You can also enjoy a camel or horse ride around the pyramids, or watch a sound and light show at night.

Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum, also known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, is the largest and most comprehensive museum of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world. It houses more than 120,000 items, ranging from statues, mummies, jewelry, tools, weapons, to papyri, coins, and pottery. The museum is located in downtown Cairo, near Tahrir Square, and it is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Egypt.

The museum is divided into two main floors: the ground floor, which displays the chronological history of Egypt from the prehistoric to the Roman periods, and the first floor, which displays the thematic collections of the royal and religious artifacts.

 Some of the highlights of the museum include the Narmer Palette, the Rosetta Stone, the colossal statue of Ramses II, the golden mask of Tutankhamun, and the Royal Mummy Room, which contains the mummies of some of the most famous pharaohs, such as Amenhotep I, Thutmose III, Seti I, and Ramses II.

The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and the entrance fee is 200 EGP (about 13 USD) for the main museum, and 180 EGP (about 12 USD) for the Royal Mummy Room. You can also hire a guide or an audio guide for an extra fee. The museum is very large and crowded, so it is recommended to plan your visit ahead and focus on the sections that interest you the most.

Al-Azhar Mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque is one of the oldest and most influential mosques in Cairo, and in the Islamic world. It was founded in 970 AD by the Fatimid dynasty, and it is the first mosque established in Cairo.

 It is also the site of Al-Azhar University, the oldest and most prestigious Islamic university in the world, and the center of Sunni Islamic learning and scholarship. The mosque is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, near the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, and it is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture and art.

The mosque has five minarets, three domes, and several courtyards and halls. The main entrance is through the Bab al-Muzayyinin (the Barber’s Gate), which leads to the main courtyard, where you can see the ablution fountain and the oldest minaret. 

The main prayer hall is on the eastern side of the courtyard, and it has a stunning mihrab (prayer niche) and a wooden pulpit. The mosque also has several tombs of the Fatimid caliphs and other prominent figures, such as the founder of the mosque, Jawhar al-Siqilli, and the famous scholar, Imam al-Shafi’i.

The mosque is open to visitors every day, except during the prayer times, which are five times a day. The entrance is free, but you need to dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering. You can also join a guided tour or a lecture to learn more about the history and significance of the mosque.

Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khalili is the largest and most famous market in Cairo, and one of the oldest bazaars in the world. It is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, near the Al-Azhar Mosque, and it is a maze of narrow alleys, colorful shops, and lively cafes.

 It is the best place to experience the local culture and to buy souvenirs, such as spices, perfumes, carpets, jewelry, antiques, and handicrafts. You can also find some of the most famous and historic cafes in Cairo, such as El Fishawy, which has been serving coffee and shisha (water pipe) since 1773, and Naguib Mahfouz Cafe, which is named after the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist.

Khan el-Khalili is open every day from 9 am to 9 pm, but it is especially busy and lively on Fridays and Sundays. You can wander around the market and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells, or you can bargain with the vendors and get the best deals. You can also visit some of the nearby attractions, such as the Al-Hussein Mosque, the Beit el-Suhaymi (a 17th-century house museum), and the Qalawun Complex (a medieval complex of a mosque, a madrasa, and a mausoleum).

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