Cairo Tourist Information
The Great Pyramids of Giza, are located on a plateau in Cairo it includes the three Pyramids (Khufu/Cheops, Khafre/Chephren and Menkaure/Mykerinos), the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers' village and an industrial complex. It has been said that it took 20 years to build and that the workforce could have been around 20,000. The oldest and largest of the three pyramids at Giza, is the Great Pyramid also known as Khufu's Pyramid, is the only surviving structure out of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence. The sides of the pyramid’s base average 755.75 feet (230 meters), and its original height was 481.4 feet (147 meters), making it the largest pyramid in the world. Three smaller pyramids built for Khufu’s wives are lined up next to the Great Pyramid, relatives or officials of the king were buried surrounding him to accompany and support him in the afterlife. The two smaller - but still huge - pyramids in Giza are those of Khafre and Menkaure. The middle pyramid at Giza was built for Khufu’s son Khafre. built inside his complex was the Great Sphinx, a guardian statue carved in limestone with the head of a man and the body of a lion.
The southernmost pyramid at Giza was built for Khafre’s son Menkaure It is the shortest of the three pyramids (218 feet). To ensure that the pyramids remained symmetrical, the exterior casing stones all had to be equal in height and width, they transported by river barge to Giza, and dragged up ramps to the construction site. The smooth exterior of the pyramid was made of a fine grade of white limestone that was quarried across the Nile
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, although not all items are on display, many items need to be stored under very exact environmental conditions in order to prevent rapid deterioration. Its exhibits of mummies, sarcophagi, pottery, jewellery and of course King Tutankhamun's treasures, depict ancient Egypt's glorious reign. Built in 1901 by the Italian construction company Garozzo-Zaffarani, it is one of the largest museums in the region, upon entering the building, you will see the the atrium and the rear of the building with many items on view ranging from sarcophagi and boats to enormous statues. There are two main floors in the museum, on the ground floor there is an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the Ancient world, the coins found on this floor are made of many different metals, including gold, silver, and bronze. On the first floor there are artefacts from the final two dynasties of Egypt, including items from the tombs of the Pharaohs Thutmosis III, Thutmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut, and the courtier Maiherpri, as well as many artifacts from the Valley of the Kings, in particular the material from the intact tombs of Tutankhamun and Psusennes I.
The tomb of King Tutankhamen was still relatively intact when it was discovered by Howard Carter, while the Tomb had clearly been looted on two occasions, the looting took place shortly after his death, and as a result, the vast majority of artefacts were left behind in the tomb, more than 3,500 artifacts have been recovered, including the gold face mask, made of solid gold it has been described as the most beautiful object ever made. The mask was found in its original position where it had been placed over Tutankhamun face, concealing the bandages that covered his head. There are also Two special rooms containing a number of mummies of kings and other royal family The room has 11 mummies, including the most recently discovered mummy, that of Hatshepsut .
Salah El Din Citadel
The Saladin Citadel of Cairo is a medieval Islamic fortification on Mokattam hill near the center of Cairo, it is now a preserved historic site, with mosques and museums. Located at the top of a high cliff, the citadel also provides tourists with magnificent views over the bustling city of Cairo. Many dynasties including the Ayyubids, the Mamluks, and even some Ottomans had a turn ruling over Egypt from the citadel. With large imposing gateways, towers and high defending walls, it has defended Egypt against many violent attacks throughout time. the Citadel is one of Cairo's main attractions. Construction of the Citadel began in 1176, during the reign of Saladin. However, it wasn't completed until 1182 during the ruling period of Al Malek El Kamel. Saladin also dug a water well inside the citadel to be used by the soldiers if the citadel ever came under siege. It was 90 meters deep and a true marvel, dug inside the hardest rocks of the Mokatam Mountain.The prominent fortress houses three mosques including the marvelous Mosque of Mohamed Ali, which is the best example of Ottoman architecture in Egypt. You will also find there, the Mamluk Mosque of El Nasser Mohamed, and the small charming Mosque of Suleiman Pasha El Khadim Other than the mosques, the citadel has the Military Museum, the Police Museum, the Royal Carriages Museum, and the the citadel is also home to the impressive Gawhara Palace (the Jewel Palace), named after Gawhara Hanem, Mohamed Ali's last wife. Built in 1814, it housed the ruler's administration and was used as a personal residence by the Egyptian leader. Beautiful gold inscriptions adorn the walls of this majestic Ottoman-influenced palace. One of its most eccentric components is the Watch Hall, where the shape of a watch has been used to decorate the walls.
The Hanging Church
The Hanging Church is named for its location above a gatehouse of a Roman fortress in Old Cairo; its nave is suspended over a passage. Entrance to the Hanging Church is via a beautifully-decorated gate on Shar'a Mari Girgis Street. This leads into an open courtyard, flanked by mosaics, from which there are 29 steps to the church At the top of the stairs are three wooden doors decorated with geometric patterns, framed with decorative carvings in the stone wall. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is thus also known as St. Mary's Church. The Hanging Church was built in the 7th century, it has been rebuilt several times since then, including a major rebuild under Patriarch Abraham in the 10th century. It is unique in that it has a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s ark. At the eastern end of the church there are three sanctuaries , the one in the middle is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the one to the left is named after St. George and the one to the right is named after John the Baptist. The central iconostasis (sanctuary screen) dates from the 12th or 13th century, made of ebony inlaid with ivory, carved with geometric designs and crosses, and a row of seven large icons. In the center the enthroned Jesus, on the left side the Virgin Mary, Archangel Gabriel and St. Peter, on the right side John the Baptist, Archangel Michael and St. Paul. The 11th-century marble pulpit surmounts 13 graceful pillars, representing Jesus and the 12 disciples. As customary in Coptic churches, one of the pillars is black, representing Judas, and another is grey, for doubting Thomas. Its steps are carved with a shell and a cross, on each side of the pulpit a cross is depicted above the steps symbolizing the three days during which Jesus Christ was in his tomb and his resurrection. Beside these sanctuaries is the baptistery.
Founded in AD 970 as the centrepiece of the newly created Fatimid city, Al Azhar is one of Cairo’s earlier mosques, and its sheikh is considered the highest theological authority for Egyptian Muslims. Over a thousand years since its founding, Al-Azhar Mosque and the university that bears its name is the most prestigious of Muslim schools, and its students are highly esteemed for their traditional training. While ten thousand students once studied here, today the university classes are conducted in adjacent buildings and the Mosque is reserved for prayer. The building is a blend of architectural styles, the result of numerous enlargements over more than 1000 years. parts of the original structure are still intact. Five ancient minarets grace its construction with variouscascading columns and balconies interloping on the building’s sides it has six entrances, with the main entrance being the 18th Century Bab el-Muzayini (barber's gate), where students were once shaved. Once inside the mosque, the courtyard is fascinating not only because of its size (spanning around 84 by 34 m), but because it is completely surrounded by beautifully designed and craftedporticos and supported by over 300 marble columns that are from its original foundation. To the east; is the main prayer hall, containing row after row of intricately designed Kufic inscriptions on its interior walls. Detailed stucco decorations and geometrically shaped patterns and panelling are carved into inlets and corner coves, a credit to the restoration commissioned by its various leaders.
Khan El Khalili
Khan el-Khalili is a major souk in the historic center of Islamic Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo's main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.It was originally built to serve as a mausoleum for the Fatimid royal family, and was at that time a part of the Great Eastern Fatimid Palace which was built in 970 CE. By 1389 the original Fatimid cemetery had been destroyed in order to make way for traders. The original bazaar built by El Khalili was demolished and then rebuilt in 1511, the trading hub was built complete with massive gates and several perpendicular streets. To see the Khan El-Khalili bazaar, is like being transported back in time to an old Arab souk. The khan used to be divided into fairly rigid districts, but now the only distinct areas are the gold sellers, the coppersmiths and the spice dealers. Almost anything can be bought here and if one merchant doesn’t have what you’re looking for, he’ll happily find somebody who does. The market is famous for clothing, spices, traditional jewelry and perfumes. Many of the high quality clothes; fabrics and other items that are made by local artisans often prove to be the best souvenirs since they are a part of Egyptian culture, and as such, they are bought daily by the countless locals shopping at the bazaar. In addition to shops, there are several coffeehouses restaurants, and street food vendors distributed throughout the market. The coffee Shops are generally small and quite traditional, serving Arabic coffee and usually offering shisha. many traditional workshops continue to operate in the surrounding area and the adjoining goldsmiths' souq, for example, is still important for locals. Fishawi’s Coffee has been open since 1773, making it the oldest coffee shop in Egypt.
The vast necropolis of Saqqara, the cemetery area of ancient Memphis is where pyramid building in Egypt first began,it lies on the edge of the Western (Libyan) Desert, on the west bank of the Nile, some 15 kilometers south of the Pyramids of Giza. Extending over an area of almost seven kilometers from north to south, it contains tombs from almost every period of Egyptian history. An active burial ground for more than 3500 years it is Egypt’s largest archaeological site. and the final resting place for deceased pharaohs and their families, administrators, generals and sacred animals. Old Kingdom pharaohs were buried within Saqqara’s 11 major pyramids, while their subjects were buried in the hundreds of smaller tombs. Saqqara and the surrounding pyramids of Dahshur and Abu Sir are a showcase of the early architecture of the pharaohs. Most of Saqqara, except for the Step Pyramid, was buried in sand until the mid-19th century,
At the foot of the Saqqara Necropolis, the Imhotep Museum opened in 2006 and is dedicated to the Egyptian architect, Imhotep. There are five halls within the museum with a variety of beautifully-presented displays of finds from throughout the necropolis area. This is the best place to begin any exploration of the Saqqara necropolis. The most famous landmark of Saqqara is the Step Pyramid, the tomb of the third Dynasty ruler Djoser or Zoser, built by Imhotep and thought to be the earliest major stone structure erected in Egypt. The Step Pyramid stands 60 meters high and is built of locally quarried clay sandstone of poor quality, it was the first all-stone complex ever built on earth, unfortunately you can no longer enter the pyramid due to safety issues.
The ruins of this ancient capital are located 25 km south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile. The site is over 5000 years old so little of the actual city remains, but it still boasts several impressive artefacts and an array of statues that have been uncovered in the past century. Cairo’s location, so close to ancient Memphis, proves the importance of this site throughout history. Both sites are located at the beginning of the Nile Delta, where the river slows down and spreads out into a distinctive fan shape before entering the Mediterranean Sea. From this strategic location, rulers of Egypt from the 3rd millennium up through present day have been able to exert their power in both Upper and Lower Egypt. The original name of the city was the White Walls, and the term may have referred originally to the king’s palace, which would have been built of whitewashed brick.
The pharaoh Menes founded Memphis and united Upper and Lower Egypt from here he controlled the land and water routes. The city held an important position thanks to its location at the Nile delta; at its height Memphis was a hub of commerce, religion and trade and the political administrative center. The large city had many impressive buildings and temples. The city remained important until the 7th century AD when Alexandria rose to prominence and locals abandoned the ancient Egyptian religion. The importance of Memphis was based to a considerable extent on its venerable religious role. Certain of the coronation ceremonies were traditionally enacted in Memphis, as was the Heb-Sed festival, a jubilee celebrated by the king after 30 years of rule and repeated every three years thereafter. During the New Kingdom, Memphis probably functioned as the second, or northern, capital of Egypt. At one time it seems to have been the principal residence of the crown prince. UNESCO World Heritage Site Excavation uncovered several structures and sculptures which can be seen in the open-air Memphis Museum . Among the structures on display are a small sphinx and the remains of the Temple of Ptah, the patron god of Memphis. At the beginning of the 20th century some ruined walls were still to be seen, but these have since disappeared, and the only monument above ground is a colossal statue of Ramses II, measuring over 30 feet tall, which once adorned the great temple of Ptah Ramesses II. this huge statue shows that the city remained important even 1500 years after the Giza Pyramids were complete