Cairo

Romantically referred to as the town of many Minarets, the capital of Egypt may be a place of extremes, full of ancient landmarks, snarling traffic, ornate mosques, and dazzling trendy skyscrapers.Cairo's is the largest city in Africa and has bigger metropolitan space is the second-largest in Africa, providing a home for quite twenty million individuals, an ocean of humanity that contributes to the city's chaos.Filled with sights, sounds, and smells, several guests find Cairo's frenzied energy overwhelming; except for those with a way of humour and a definite quantity of patience, it harborsa treasure hoarded wealth of experiences that can't be replicated anyplace else.

Language:
Arabic is the official language in Cairo, and is the most typical language spoken throughout the town. Though English and French is widely spoken within the major travel axis, significantly by taxi drivers and alternative travel service personnel, it's so much less common in alternative areas of the town.

Religion:
The country is majority Sunni Muslim (estimated to be 85-90% of the population), with the next largest religious group being Coptic Christians (with estimates ranging from 10-15%). The exact numbers are subject to controversy, with Christians alleging that they have been systemically under-counted in existing censuses.

Climate:

Egypt is an arid, deserted climate and therefore the weather in Cairo is often heat, or hot, and therefore the nights cool. There are solely 2 seasons: an awfully hot summer, with average temperatures reaching 95°F (35°C) between May and October, and a light winter from November to April. Cairo is incredibly dry, receiving on the average solely a couple of units of rain a year, however it will have high humidity levels in summer because of its location by the river.

This city often experiences dirt storms in March and April. The simplest time to go to Cairo is within the cooler winter months between November and April, once the temperatures average between 66°F (19°C) and 84°F (29°C) throughout the day, and between 41°F (5°C) and 52°F (11°C) in the dead of night. December, January and February are the most liked standard months to go to as they're the most comfortable and guests avoid each the worst of the heat and therefore the likelihood of desert winds and sandstorms.

Currency:

  • Cairo uses the Egyptian Pound. One Egyptian pound is made up of 100 piastres. The smallest denominations are 25 piastres and 50 piastres, both of which are available in coin or note form. Notes also come in the following denominations: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. Smaller notes are especially useful for tipping but are in increasingly short supply. Although the official language of Egypt is Arabic, notes are bilingual and the amounts are written in English on one side. Imagery reflects the country’s ancient history.
  • ATM: ATM facilities can be found throughout downtown Cairo particularly outside banks, and in hotels, shopping centers and the airport. ATMs are readily available in big cities like Cairo or Alexandria. If you’re headed to a more remote area, make sure to draw enough cash before you leave as you may struggle to find an ATM once you reach your destination. Only use ATMs in reputable areas and be wary of anyone trying to assist you. Most ATMs will charge a small fee for using a foreign card so it makes sense to minimize costs by drawing larger amounts.
  • Note: It's always advisable to bring money in a variety of forms on a vacation: a mix of cash, credit cards, and traveler's checks. It’s also a good idea to conceal your cash in a money belt and to keep an emergency stash hidden in your luggage or in the hotel safe. Make sure to ask for plenty of smaller denominations for tipping, paying for taxis, and haggling in local markets. Flashing large notes can make you a target for pickpockets.
Top places to visit:
Pyramids of Giza

Cairo is one of the world's best megacities. Very stunning because it is crazy, and as wealthy in historic finery. Cairo tends to be a city that travelers love and hate in equal measures. Its sheer noise, pollution, and contradictory traffic area unit an assault on your senses, however look on the far side the trendy brouhaha, and you will realize a history that spans centuries. Choked with vigor, Cairo is where you get a feel for Egyptian street life. No trip to Egypt is complete without a stay in the city Arabs call Umm al-Dunya (The Mother of the World). Find the simplest places to go to and fascinating things to try and do during this abuzz metropolis with our list of the most visited places in Cairo.

Salah El-Din Citadel: While this landmark might not be familiar to many visitors, this mighty fortress is Cairo’s most popular non-pyramid-related attractions. The Salah El-Din Citadel was built in 1100 AD by Salah al-Din, the founder of Egypt’s Ayyubid Dynasty for fortification against the Crusaders, and it was home to Egypt’s rulers for 700 years.The original structure he laid out has long disappeared except for the eastern outer walls, but a legacy of rulers has made their own additions here. A collection of rather half-hearted museums (the Police Museum, National Military Museum, and Carriage Museum) take up some of the other buildings on site and are more worthwhile viewing for the architecture of the actual buildings rather than the exhibits themselves.

Pyramids of Giza: Eleven miles southwest of Cairo on the Giza Plateau are Egypt’s most iconic attraction: The Pyramids of Giza. Thousands of visitors come each year to see these three majestic 4,500-year-old pyramids that is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The extraordinary shape, impeccable geometry and sheer bulk of the Giza Pyramids have invited the obvious questions: ‘How were we built, and why?’ Centuries of research have given us parts of the answer. Farther south on the plateau marks the tombs of three of Egypt’s pharaohs: Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. Guarding these mortuary temples is the lion-bodied and pharaoh-faced Sphinx; one of the ancient world's iconic monuments.As the pyramids' area is quite sprawling though, many travelers elect to see the area by tour. One of the most popular things to do at the pyramids is a camel ride.

The Egyptian Museum:The absolutely staggering collection of antiquities displayed in Cairo's Egyptian Museum makes it one of the world's great museums. This is the largest and most popular history museum in Egypt. The museum was founded in 1857 by French Egyptologist August Mariette and moved to its current home — in the distinctive powder-pink mansion in Downtown Cairo — in 1897.More than 100,000 artifacts from Egypt’s long past including pottery, jewelry, sarcophagi, toys of Egyptians whose names are lost to history and of course mummies. Inside the great domed, oddly pinkish building, the glittering treasures of Tutankhamun and other great pharaohs lie. It is at this museum students can see artifacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most well-known pharaoh, Tutankhamun, including his famous golden funeral mask.Some of these collectionsare poorly labeled and not well set out due to limits of space (and only a fraction of its total holdings is actually on display). It also suffers currently with some empty cases due to artifacts having been transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), but you still can't help being impressed by the sheer majesty of the exhibits.

Al-Azhar Mosque: Al-Azhar Mosque known simply in Egypt as al-Azhar, is an Egyptian mosque in Islamic Cairo. Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah of the Fatimid dynasty commissioned its construction for the newly established capital city in 970. It was the first mosque established in Cairo, a city that has since gained the nickname "the City of a Thousand Minarets".Al-Azhar Mosque is the finest building of Cairo's Fatimid era and one of the city's earliest surviving mosques.Its sheikh is considered the highest theological authority for Egyptian Muslims. After its dedication in 972, and with the hiring by mosque authorities of 35 scholars in 989, the mosque slowly developed into what is today the second oldest continuously run university in the world after Al Karaouine in Idrisid Fes making it the leading theological center of the Islamic world. The university, integrated within the mosque as part of a mosque school since its inception, was nationalized and officially designated an independent university in 1961, following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.The building is a harmonious blend of architectural styles, the result of numerous enlargements over more than 1000 years.

Khan el-Khalil Bazaar

Khan el-Khalil Bazaar: Khan el-Khalili is a famous bazaar and souq (or souk) in the historic center of Cairo, Egypt. Established as a center of trade in the Mamluk era and named for one of its several historic caravanserais, the bazaar district has since become one of Cairo's main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.The market is hemmed in on its eastern side by the Neo-Gothic bulk of the Sayyidna el-Husein Mosque, built in 1792 to honor the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.The marketplace is located in the narrow alleyways of Islamic Cairo. It is here that the most authentic Egyptian souvenirs such as spices, jewelry and hookah pipes can be found.Here, students can test out their bargaining and Arabic language skills.Most shops and stalls open from around 9am to well after sundown (except Friday morning and Sunday), although plenty of the souvenir vendors are open as long as there are customers, even on Sunday.A trip to Cairo won’t be complete without experiencing the chaos and hustle and bustle of this market.

Sultan Hassan Mosque:The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassanis a monumental mosque and is regarded as the finest piece of the early Mamluk architecture.It is located in the historic district of Cairo, Egypt. It was built between 1356 and 1363 during the Bahri Mamluk period and commissioned by Sultan an-Nasir Hasanthe grandson of Sultan Qalaun; he took the throne at the age of 13, was deposed and reinstated no less than three times, then assassinated shortly before the mosque was completed.Maqrizi mentions that the construction of the mosque cost 30,000 dirham every day. The total construction costs amounted to over one million dinars, making it the most expensive mosque in medieval Cairo. Directly facing the Sultan Hassan Mosque is the El-Rifai Mosque, built in 1912 to house the tomb of Khedive Ismail and constructed to replicate its older next-door neighbor. The ex Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1919-1980), is also buried here. Both mosques prominently sit on Midan Salah ad-Din, directly below Cairo's Citadel.The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan was considered remarkable for its massive size and innovative architectural components, and is still considered one of the most impressive historic monuments in Cairo today.

Old Cairo

Old Cairo (Coptic Cairo):Coptic Cairo is a part of Old Cairo which encompasses the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church, the Greek Church of St. George and many other Coptic churches and historical sites. Legend has it that the Holy Family visited this area and stayed at the site of Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)where the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and family sheltered during King Herod's massacre of male babies. This small church-filled cluster of twisty laneways lies within the walls of Old Babylon where the Roman Emperor Trajan first built a fortress along the Nile. This little and enclosed region, also called as Coptic Cairo, is the most ancient part of the city. It is the heart of the Coptic Christian group and despite the fact that it is really old, it still remains a truly fascinating spot to visit.Parts of the Roman towers still preside over the main street. The Coptic Museum here contains a wealth of information on Egypt's early Christian period and is home to one of Egypt's finest collections of Coptic art. Coptic Cairo was a stronghold for Christianity in Egypt both before and during the Islamic era, as most of its churches were built after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the 4th,7th and 9thcentury.

Mohammad Ali Mosque: The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is the most famous monument and the main reason for visiting. Nicknamed the "Alabaster Mosque," its white stone and tall, disproportionately slender minarets are one of Cairo's great landmarks. Thismosque is situated in the Citadel of Cairo in Egypt and was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848. Situated on the summit of the citadel, this Ottoman mosque, the largest to be built in the first half of the 19th century, is, with its animated silhouette and twin minarets, the most visible mosque in Cairo. The mosque was built in memory of Tusun Pasha, Muhammad Ali's oldest son, who died in 1816. This beautiful 1318 mosque is the only Mamluk work that Mohammed Ali didn’t demolish – instead, he used it as a stable. Before that, Ottoman sultan Selim I stripped its interior of its marble, but the old wood ceiling and muqarnas (stalactite-type stone carving used to decorate doorways and window recesses) show up nicely, and the twisted finials of the minarets are interesting for their covering of glazed tiles, something rarely seen in Egypt.Whilst on tour, make sure not to miss this religious building, to take in the classic Islamic architecture and the evocative ambiance.

Al Azhar Park

Al Azhar Park:Among several honors, this park is listed as one of the world's sixty great public spaces by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS). The park was created by the Historic Cities Support Program (HCSP) of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), an entity of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Built over what was essentially a medieval rubbish dump, Al-Azhar Park is the green lungs of the old district. It was opened in 2005 and provides a much-needed respite to the overcrowded chaos of Cairo's street hustle.The park, developed at a cost in excess of USD $30 million, its money was a gift to Cairo from Aga Khan IV, a descendant of a Fatimid Caliph.The park also features the Ayyubid Wall, constructed by Salah El-Din 800 years ago.

  • The development of the park
  • Archeology involving a 12th-century Ayyubid wall
  • Historic building rehabilitation (the 14th Century Umm Sultan Shaban Mosque, the 13th century Khayrbek complex, and the DarbShoughlan School)
  • Several quality of life improvement initiatives requiring skills training, area rehabilitation, microfinance, and support in the areas of health and education, among others.

Cairenes stroll through a profusion of gardens, emerald grass and fountains, or sit beside the lake or on the terraces of one of the restaurants, admiring the superb views over Cairo. It’s most fun on weekends, when families day-trip with picnics.A small admittance fee will gain you access to the park and the Ayyubid Wall