Why Cairo Is A City Of Charm And Mystique
By Darren Panto
Cairo is the historian’s haven and an architect’s delight! And if you are not a historian or an architect but intrigued by all the different stories, movies and documentaries, that you have come across about Egypt and are interested in living the experience what are you waiting for head off for a vacation to Cairo!
Cairo in Arabic is actually AL QAHIRA meaning “The Triumphant”, named by Al Muez one of her Babylonian rulers. The foundations for Cairo were laid by Al Muez’s aid Gauwhar in the tenth century.
Cairo is situated in the northeast part of Egypt. The great Blue Nile snakes through Cairo from the north to the south splitting her into two parts-east and west. It is home to one of the most famous gigantic Seven Wonders of the World “The Pyramids of Giza”.
To get there you can contact your nearest travel agent or book your tickets online. A number of renowned airlines fly to Cairo, such as Emirates, British Airways, Austrian, KLM, and Egypt Air.
Once there you can check into a five star hotel or hostel depending on your budget or of course if you have planned a package tour then its going to be the hotel booked by your travel agent! Inside Cairo, you can travel by air, bus or train. Egypt air and Sinai Air operate flights to all the important parts of Cairo. Some of the bus services in Cairo are Middle Delta Bus Company, East Delta Bus Company, International Service Station (Sinai), Upper Egypt, West Delta Bus Company. The Egyptian railways operate several ordinary as well as air-conditioned trains through out Cairo.
The Gastronome’s Delight – You can choose from traditional Egyptian cuisine consisting of kebabs- made from minced meat and a mix of spices roasted over coal or fried, fried and cooked beans is another traditional dish. If you are not a foodie and not very keen on teasing your taste buds you can settle for continental and a variety of international cuisine familiar to you.
Now that you have a roof over your head and know what to eat in Cairo, here is where you can spend your time and energy while you are there!
The Pyramids: The Egyptian pharos built the pyramids to preserve their
mortal remains by mummification. They are symbols of the Egyptians’ belief in resurrection and the afterlife. The famous Pyramids of Giza are located at the western outskirts of Cairo.
There are three of them- the Small or First pyramid, the Second and the Great Pyramid. King Khufu also known as Cheops of the Fourth Dynasty built the great pyramid. Khufu’s son Khafre also known as, Chephren built the second pyramid. It is located to the south west of the great pyramid. The remains of Khafre's mortuary temple, the Temple of the Valley, and rising causeway can be seen at this site. These temples witnessed the religious rites during the embalming of the body.
Menkaure or Mycerinus built the third pyramid. Although very small as compared to the first and second, its distinguishing factor is the original granite slab covering the lower sides. It is located to the south-west of both the second and the great pyramids.
The Sphinx: On the way to the Temple of the Valley, lies the large statue of the Sphinx. One of most famous monuments in the world, it is a legendary statue for it has the body of a lion and the face of a man. It is 70 m long and 20 m high. The face of the Sphinx closely resembles that of King Kephren.
The Museum at Tahrir Square: offers visitors a chance to acquaint themselves with Egypt's ancient history over a period of 50 centuries. Its most significant artifact is the magnificent King Tutankhamen collection.
Religious monuments: Cairo is not just a confluence of great civilizations but also of the different religions that its people followed.
Churches: Most of the ancient churches are located in the Old Cairo, near the ruins of the Fortress of Babylon. Most of them were constructed around the 4th 5th and 6th century when Christianity spread in the area. Some such interesting sites are –
Al Muaallaqah or Hanging Church was constructed around the 4th or 5th Century, named "Al-Muaallaqah" because it was built on top of the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon.
Church of Abu Sergah (St Sergius) is built on the cave in which the Holy Family is believed to have stayed when they came to Egypt. It is regarded as a source of blessing. Church of Al-Adra (The Virgin) dates back to the 8th Century, it contains some precious icons and has three "haykals" behind ivory-inlaid wooden screens. Church of the Virgin in Zaytoon gained special significance after people reported the Apparition of the Virgin above one of itsChristianity in Egypt, were moved to this Cathedral from Venice where they had remained since their transport from Alexandria in the Middle Ages.
The virgin’s tree and the Coptic museum are other interesting sites revealing dome. It is located in Al-Zaytoon, in northeast Cairo.
The Cathedral of Al-Qiddis Morcos or St Mark is the largest church in Africa; it was built recently in Abbassia. The remains of St. Mark, the first to preach the presence of Christianity in Egypt.
Mosques: The mosques of Egypt are testimony to the popularity of Islam in the country
Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas (Al-Fustat) was the first mosque built in Egypt and Africa.
Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulum is the third largest mosque built in Egypt. It has a spacious hall (saha), unique spiral minaret and a large collection of gypsum decoration.
AL Azhar Mosque was founded in Midan Hussein by Gawhar al-Sikilli in AD 971 as both a mosque and Madrasah (school). It is named after Fatma al-Zahraa, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. It is considered the oldest Islamic University.
The Blue Mosque located in Tibbanah Street has one of the most impressive blue mosaics on its walls.
The museum of Islamic art or Bab Al-Khalq is regarded as the largest in the Middle East. It houses 80,000 rare objects dating from early Islam to the Ottoman period.
Darren Panto sales & marketing manager for Peltours - a leading tour operator to Egypt and the Red Sea. For more information on Cairo city breaks and holiday excursions visit www.peltours.com/cairo/ Alternatively, for a full and comprehensive Egypt holiday search visit www.peltours.com.