The Top 10 Sights In Cairo
By Joanne Hensman
No holiday in Egypt would be complete without a stay in Cairo, and the good news for visitors to this amazing country is that many of its top sites are easily accessible from the capital. If anything, the problem is that there are just too many of them – it can be a little hard to judge what the must-sees are, so if you only have a limited time, this ‘Top 10 Sights in Cairo’ guide is a must for your luxury holiday in Egypt; whatever type of holiday you choose:
10. The Manial Palace
Said to have been built for Prince Mohammad Ali between 1899 and 1929, the Manial Palace became property of Egypt in 1955. Nowadays, the structure (a mixture of Ottoman, Moorish, European rococo and Persian architecture) houses a museum containing artefacts dating from medieval times all the way up to the 19th century. As well as history buffs, the museum’s gardens will appeal to plant lovers, as it contains a selection of rare tropical plants and incredible palms.
9. Museum of Islamic Ceramics
Another converted palace, this museum offers a fascinating collection of antiques from the various Islamic periods of the country’s history. Originally, the collection was housed in the National Library, but as the collection has expanded, its current location gives the beautiful exhibits more space. Being a former palace, the building itself is stunning, and as the labels of each artefact are in both Arabic and English, anyone interested in Islam or art should find this a fascinating highlight of their holiday in Egypt.
8. Pharaonic Village
Perfect for a family holiday in Egypt, the Pharaonic Village is an attraction that promises to take visitors back in time 3000 years to the days of the pharaohs. Although this may sound somewhat tacky in principal, it’s so well done and historically accurate that the venture manages to combine education with entertainment. It was 20 years in the making, but Dr Hassan Ragab and Dr Abdelsalam Ragab have achieved a truly impressive living tableau of the most renowned period on the country’s history – the perfect attraction for a family holiday in Egypt.
Another cultural highlight, the Hanging Church gets its name from its location – above a gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, with its nave suspended over a passage. It dates all the way back to the 3rd century, and with its marble pulpit, inlaid screens, icons and murals, it really is one of the most impressive churches in the entire city.
6. Khan el Khalili Market
Built all the way back in 1382, you can’t wander the market without being close to its memorable history. Before it was rebuilt in the 16th century, it was often used s the meeting place for subversive groups, and frequently raided. It remains one of Cairo’s most important shopping areas to this day. If delving through canvas covered stands, soaking up the atmosphere and working on your bartering is something that appeals, you won’t find better than here wherever you visit on your luxury Egypt holiday.
5. Giza Zoo
One of the few areas with plenty of greenery, Giza Zoo offers the perfect day out for a family holiday in Egypt. Over 100 years old, the zoo has a wide range of animals – many of them endangered. The zoo actually runs at a loss from its ticket prices, in order to allow the maximum number of citizens to enjoy its flora and fauna. It made headlines in 2002 when the first Californian sea lion to be born in the Middle East was birthed.
4. Cairo Tower
One of the iconic buildings of Cairo, the tower is a must for Egypt’s holiday makers. Standing at 187 metres tall, the granite tower ever dwarves the Great Pyramid at Giza by an impressive 45 metres. The best time to visit is in the evening, when it gets dark and the whole of Cairo is lit up beneath you. Visitors can also visit the tower’s restaurant (a favourite of the late President Gamal Abdul Nasser), with its rotating floor – which thankfully is almost unnoticeable.
3. The Citadel
One of the most famous spots in Egypt, and a holiday favourite, the Citadel houses a number of museums and ancient mosques. Rumour has it that the site of the Citadel was chosen by Saladin for it’s healthy air – and the unscientific way this was judged was by hanging meat all over Cairo. In the majority of spots, the meat went off within a hours, but in the Citadel it was fresh for several days! Taking a walk through here is like strolling through time, and visitors can see the capital’s key features from medieval times onwards.
2. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
If you want to learn about Ancient Egypt you need to go to the source. With 120,000 items pertaining to the ancients, the museum is an absolute must for family holidays in Egypt. The legendary treasures from Tutankhamen’s burial are housed here, and are by far the most popular exhibit, but visitors can also expect to discover a vast selection of finds, including scrabs, sarcophagi, coins, papyrus and artefacts from throughout Egyptian history.
1. The Pyramids of Giza
Of course, it would be hard for any Egyptian attraction to replace the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Pyramids of Egypt, located on the left bank of the Nile in Cairo are impressive today as they’ve ever been. The Giza Necropolis contains the Pyramid of Khufu (or Great Pyramid), the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure, and of course the Great Sphinx is nearby too. A trip to the Pyramids of Giza is the must-see attraction for any luxury holiday in Egypt.
There is of course a lot more to see than just the 10 sights listed here, especially if you intend to go beyond the capital during your stay. If time is of the essence though, and you want to take in as much as possible then you can’t go wrong with any of the sights on this list, and your luxury holiday in Egypt should be an unforgettable experience.
Joanne Hensman is an Egypt holiday specialist for key2holidays, an online tour operator specialising in holidays in Egypt, as well as trips to Australia, Cuba, the Caribbean, Europe, 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.