City Guide: Cairo
In Egypt we didn’t only just visit Alexandria and the Pyramids but also Egypt’s capital Cairo. Similarly to Alexandria it was difficult to get to places due to the immense traffic, but we managed to check out a few interesting places as well as visit the Egyptian Museum.
We started off our sightseeing tour in Coptic Cairo which is part of Old Cairo. Inside a gated area you can find the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church, the Monastery and Church of Saint George as well as further other sites.
This part of Cairo used to be the most important central hub for Christianity in Egypt.
The Coptic Museum
After passing the Babylon Fortress we entered the Coptic Museum for a small fee. After brief security checks we explored the area and the museum.
The museum holds a large range of Coptic artifacts and traces back the history of Christianity in Egypt.
Cairo Hanging Church
The Hanging Church in Cairo is one of the oldest churches in Egypt. Previous churches at this exact site date back to the 3rd century AD. The Hanging Church received its Name due to its location above the Babylon Fortress.
It is accessible by steps. However, nowadays it is difficult to visualize why it was called the hanging church, as its elevated position has been eroded due to the rising land surface. The inside of the church is mainly made of dark wooden interior.
Cairo Salah El Din Al Ayouby Citadel
The Citadel in Cairo is located on a hill overlooking the city center of Cairo. On a clear day you may even spot the pyramids in the far distance.
During medieval times it used to be an Islamic fort. This sight now hosts mosques as well as several museums.
Cairo Muhammed Ali Mosque
The beautiful Muhammad Ali Mosque is situated within the grounds of the Citadel. It was built in the beginning of the 19th century and consists of to twin minarets.
The design of the mosque resembles to some extent the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This mosque in Cairo was named after Muhammad Ali’s oldest son.
Cairo Al-Azhaar Mosque and Souq
While we were on our way from the Citadel to the Al-Azhaar Mosque the sun was beginning to set as we were stuck in the traffic and barely moved forward. As we finally arrived the Mosque we could only view it from the outside as people were praying.
The Mosque, which was named after the Islamic prophet’s daugher Fatima, who was also referred to as az-Zahrā, was the very first to be built in Cairo just after 970. It soon also developed into a university teaching the study of Sunni theology and Islamic law. After the Egyptian revolution it was officially recognized as an independent university in 1961.
Afterwards we also had a short stroll through a small Souq (a market) and a couple of streets with shops selling handmade artifacts.
Cairo Egyptian Museum and Tahrir Square
The Tahrir Square is a major town square in the centre of Cairo. At the outbreak of the Arab Spring it has served as the place of demonstrations setting off the Egyptian revolution in 2011.
Right next to it you can also find the very famous Egyptian Museum, which we will tell you more about in our specials section soon!
Our overall impressions of Cairo
Travelling through Cairo did feel a bit strange, as there weren’t any other tourists apart from us. Moreover, the system is bustling the entire time and it is difficult to find your way around. However, it was fascinating to drive through streets and getting a glimpse of the daily life of people living here. Compared to Alexandria it seemed a lot more authentic and real. Going to Cairo is definitely worth the experience!