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15 Essential places to see in Cairo, Egypt

The city of Cairo surprised me a lot. It is a chaotic city, with more than 20 million inhabitants and a lot of traffic, something that at first glance you will either hate or love. The city and its chaos catches you very quickly and soon you are one of the herd of people who come and go at all hours.


The city has many interesting places to visit, without a doubt, the Pyramids of Giza are the main attraction to see in Cairo, but not the only one. Discover the 15 essential things to see in Cairo in this post and at the end you will find some tips and related articles that will help you organize your trip to Egypt.


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15 ESSENTIAL PLACES TO SEE IN CAIRO, EGYPT


1. The Citadel of Saladin, an essential place to see in Cairo


The Citadel of Saladin is one of the essential places to see in Cairo. It is a medieval fortress built by order of Sultan Saladin between the years 1176 and 1183. The main objective of the fortress was to protect the city from the constant attacks of the Crusades that were increasingly common.


The Citadel is located at the highest point of Muqattam, where you will find the Military Museum, the Citadel Museum and the Mohammed Ali Mosque dating from the 19th century. In addition, there are some viewpoints from where you will have incredible views of Cairo.




2. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali


The Muhammad Ali Mosque was built between 1830 and 1848 by order of Sultan Muhammad Ali, in memory of his eldest son, Yusun, who had died in 1816 in a battle. The Mosque is built in an Ottoman style, made of alabaster. It stands out mainly for its four minarets, 82 meters high, and its domes.


3. The Pyramids of Giza


The Pyramids of Giza are located 18 kilometers from Cairo, and are the main tourist attraction of the city and of all of Egypt. Without a doubt, they are the most essential monument to see in Egypt. The pyramids of Giza are funerary constructions that were built under the orders of pharaohs from different dynasties. The pharaohs were mummified and placed in the pyramids along with their belongings and food to accompany them on their last journey.

The date of the construction of the pyramids is unknown, but it is estimated that construction began 2500 years BC.

To visit them, the best thing to do is with an organized excursion to the pyramids of Giza. However, it is not the only option. Here you have a complete guide on how to visit the Pyramids of Giza.



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4. The Khan el-Khalili Bazaar


The Khan el-Jalili Bazaar is an essential place to visit in Cairo. It is a huge bazaar that dates back its origins to the year 1382 when this place was an area for merchant caravans and over the years it became a huge market with more than 1,000 shops. In the bazaar you will find everything and it is organized by theme. Species areas, clothing areas, jewelry…

The best way to visit it is without rushing, wandering around, haggling if you want to buy something and enjoying the atmosphere. Forget about maps and just walk around.



5. The Cairo Tower


The Cairo Tower known as Burj Al-Qahira, is a 187-meter-tall telecommunications tower, located in the modern district of Zamalek. At the top is an open-air gazebo that offers incredible views of the city.



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6. The Hanging Church of Cairo


The Hanging Church of Cairo is a Christian church built around the 3rd century, although the exact date is unknown. You will find it located in the Coptic neighborhood and it is one of the essential places to see in Cairo. The church is built on top of the walls of the Babylonian fortress, a fortress of Roman origin built in the 3rd century BC. Its name is due to the fact that it seems to be literally hanging from the wall. The church is small, made of beige and white stucco that stands out mainly for its interior. In it, there are beautiful mosaics and frescoes.


7. The Egyptian Museum


The Egyptian Museum in Cairo houses one of the largest collections of objects from the Ancient Egyptian era. You will find it in Tahrir Square, one of the most beautiful and modern squares in the city. The museum was built in 1902 with the aim of protecting the treasures of Egypt and the clear intention of recovering the stolen treasures that were scattered around the world.

In 1922 the museum received around 3,500 objects from Tutankhamun's treasure. Since then, the museum's collection has grown, receiving many of the objects once stolen from Egypt. It is without a doubt, a must see in Cairo.


8. The Al-Azhar Mosque


The Al-Azhar Mosque is located in the historic center. It was built between the year 970 and the year 972. It has been a university and center for studying Islam from its origin to the present. If the exterior is already impressive, the interior is not far behind. Inside you will see the impressive white marble courtyard, the madrasa study rooms, the prayer hall and the library.

The mosque is open every day from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.


9. The Mosque of Sultan Hasan


The Sultan Mosque was built in the mid-14th century under the commission of Sultan Hasan. It is a Mamluk style construction considered one of the most important Islamic buildings in the world. The building is built of stone and consists of 8000 m2. It is 35 meters high, although its highest point is a 68 meter high minaret. At first it was created as a madrasah, a school dedicated to the teaching of Islam, divided into 4 currents of Sunni thought: Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali. During its construction one of the minarets collapsed, killing almost 300 worshipers. This fact was taken as “a bad omen” and caused the sultan to be assassinated. One of the aspects that attract the most attention is its enormous patio, the lamps hanging from long chains and the mausoleum of Sultan Hasan. The mosque is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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10. The Coptic Quarter, an essential thing to visit in Cairo


The Coptic neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cairo. It houses a large part of the Egyptian Christian community and is an essential place to visit in Cairo.

The neighborhood is home to a great historical, cultural and monumental heritage. In it you will find the hanging church (which I have told you about in previous points), the church of Saint George, the church of Saint Sergius, the Coptic Museum of Cairo, a lot of charming alleys, restaurants, cafes and shops .



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11. The City of the Dead


The City of the Dead is literally a huge cemetery, in fact, it is the largest in the world, where people live. Alive I mean. And yes, you read correctly. They live in a cemetery.

The cemetery has housed the graves of millions of people since the 7th century. Due to the lack of housing and the precarious housing conditions, part of the population could not afford to live in Cairo, so they occupied the cemetery little by little. Using mausoleums and tombs as if they were homes. In the vast majority of cases, the buried person does not even belong to a family member. Currently, the neighborhood is completely occupied and families with graves coexist. It seems a little macabre, but it works for them. Even so, the neighborhood has precarious conditions, without running water or electricity. Without a doubt, visiting the city of Los Muertos is a curious thing to do in Cairo.



12. The Mosque of Ibn Tulun


The Ibn Tulun Mosque is one of the essential mosques to see in Cairo. It was built in the 9th century by order of the governor Ahmad Ibn Tulun. It is the oldest mosque in Egypt and today, it continues to maintain its original state. It is a clear example of Abbasid architecture, with a large central courtyard surrounded by porticos, a rectangular floor plan, a mirah and an 82-meter-high minaret.


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13. A Nile Cruise, one of the best things to do in Cairo


One of the best things to do in Cairo is a cruise on the Nile. It is possible that you are organizing your route through Egypt, including a cruise on the Nile and you no longer want to do any more activities of this type, but if not, here You have your chance to take a small cruise with dinner and a show. There are several cruises and activities:



If you are interested in taking a longer cruise of several days, I will explain how to take a cruise on the Nile in this post.


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14. The Bab Zuwayla Gate


The Bab Zuwayla Gate is one of the three gates of Cairo's old city wall that are still preserved. This gate was built in the year 1092 by the vizier Badr-al-Jamali. The gate stands out for its two 27-meter-high round towers built in sandstone. They are decorated with geometric and vegetal shapes. They are beautiful, don't miss them.


15. The Ben Ezra Synagogue


The Ben Ezra Synagogue is one of the largest and oldest synagogues in the world. It was built in the 9th century by order of Rabbi Abraham Ben Ezra. Supposedly, it was built in the same place where Moses' baby had been found in a basket floating in the Nile River. It has had several renovations throughout history and stands out for its beautiful mosaics and frescoes.


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I hope you enjoy your trip to Egypt a lot and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.


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