‘cairo’, The Tale Of A Victorious Capital
By Claire Bryant
‘Cairo’, the word in Arabic means victorious and is the same word that Arabs use to describe the planet Mars. The ancient city is now commonly used as a gateway to visiting the world wonders, which are the great pyramids of Giza, and because of this Cairo has a thriving tourist infrastructure, with a number of luxury Egyptian hotels, including the famous Mena House Oberoi, a favourite of Sir. Winston Churchill.
The site of Cairo has been continuously inhabited for more than 3,500 years and as a result it has consistently held a position of pre-eminence in the Arab world. The modern city was founded in 969AD and when you visit this fabled city on your holiday in Egypt, the area which are exploring will have hardly changed since then, as the layout of the area remains largely the same. Many of the city’s mosques also still remain from this time period.
The city was originally known for its role as a centre of textile and refined sugar production and items manufactured from cotton, flax and sugarcane formed its main industry. Cairo was also a transhipment centre for overland
trade from India and Africa to Europe.
In 1347, disaster struck Cairo in the form of the plague killing up to 40% of the population. The disaster struck at a bad time for the city as just a few years later the Europeans discovered a maritime route to India and China, around the Cape of Good Hope and this lost Cairo its role of transhipment centre and meant that the city received economic stagnation for the next three centuries. By the time Napoleon invaded the city in 1798, the population was a rather paltry 200,000.
However, in the 19th Century The Suez Canal was built, and you will no doubt visit this fine feat of manmade engineering on your holiday in Egypt. The Suez Canal brought trade back to the city of Cairo, and with that the population again flourished.
The Suez Canal was the brainchild of Ismail, an Egyptian ruler who had been educated in France and wanted his city to rival that of Paris. To coincide with the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal, Ismail proposed a plan for a truly modern Cairo. The modern city resulted in a separation and on your Egyptian holiday you will see a distinct separation between old and modern Cairo, particularly between the European Al Izbakiya Gardens and the ancient souks of old-time Cairo.
In 1930, Cairo’s population exceeded the 1 million mark, and it has been growing at a rate of 300,000 per year since then. The bustling city is a great place to explore on a holiday in Egypt and the city remains alive 24/7, with the call of the muezzin ringing out well into the early hours of the morning. The Egyptian Museum, which hosts the treasures of Tutankhamen and the nearby pyramids and sphinx of Giza are obvious tourist attractions to explore on your Egyptian holiday. However, the stunning Cairo Opera House and Khan-el–Khalili souks are also worth a visit, however long you stay in this ancient and enthralling city one thing remains certain, you’ll never tire of it.
Claire Bryant is an Egyptian holidays specialist for key2holidays, an online tour operator specialising in holidays in Egypt , as well as holidays to Australia, South Africa, the Caribbean, Italy, the Far East, the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles, Dubai and the Arabian Gulf. Key2holidays has a dedicated team of experienced travel consultants to share their knowledge and help you to plan and book your ideal holiday.