« HOMEEGYPTDiscover Egypt • Cairo

Discover Magical Cairo

Cairo is an all-out assault on the senses. Known as the 'Mother of the World', this vibrant, chaotic city is home to more than 16 million Egyptians, Arabs, Africans and sundry others. Noisy, polluted and totally unpredictable, the sheer intensity of Cairo can seduce or overwhelm.

Discover magical Cairo

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» Alabaster Mosque (Mohammad Ali Mosque)

Alabaster Mosque (Mohammad Ali Mosque), Cairo

The citadel of Saladin - and indeed, the Cairo skyline - is dominated by the Alabaster Mosque, or Mosque of Mohammed Ali. Modelled along classic Turkish lines, it took 18 years to build (1830 - 1848) although later the domes had to be rebuilt. It was commissioned by Mohammad Ali, ruler of Egypt from 1805 - 1849, who lies in the marble tomb on the right as you enter. Perhaps the most evocative description of it is in Olivia Manning's The Levant Trilogy: "Above them Mohammed Ali's alabaster mosque, uniquely white in this sand-coloured city …

» Al-Azhar Mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo

Among the countless minarets punctuating the Cairo skyline, four of the most impressive belong to one of the city's standout mosques, Al-Azhar. This mosque, situated in the Islamic district, is not only one of Cairo's largest sanctuaries but it is also home to the world's oldest university, where class was first held in 975 A.D. Fatima al-Zahra, the revered daughter of Muslim prophet Mohammed, was the inspiration for the mosque's name, as her moniker of 'the Resplendent One' was perfectly suited for this holy place …

» Al-Rifa'i Mosque

Al-Rifa'i Mosque, Cairo

Though not as old as many other Cairo mosques, Al-Rifa'i Mosque stands out among others for its elaborate cavernous ceilings and the fact that it serves as a mausoleum for the last Shah of Iran (who died in exile in Egypt), as well as the last reigning king of Egypt and several members of the Egyptian royal family. Shortly after entering, visitors will find the tomb of Shaykh 'Ali al-Refa'i, a saint and the leader in an order of dervishes, and to the left beyond that are the tombs of the 'last-in-line.' The area is significant for burial …

» Babylon Fortress

Babylon Fortress, Cairo

The ancient Babylon Fortress was originally built by the Romans in the area now known as Coptic (or Old) Cairo. The fortress was built in a strong and strategic position - a canal ran through this area connecting the Nile with the Red Sea. The persecution of Coptic Egyptians led them to take refuge within Babylon Fortress, and a stroll along the length of the walls will reveal a fascinating combination of Roman and Coptic architecture. The Coptic Egyptians built a monastery as well as several churches in the fortress grounds …

» Ben Ezra Synagogue

Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo

Ben Ezra Synagogue used to be a Christian place of worship by the name of El-Shamieen Church and according to a legend, the building was built on the exact spot where Moses was found as a baby in his basket. However, when the Coptic Christians owning it weren't able to pay the annual taxes imposed by the Muslim rulers any longer, they had to sell the church. It was sold to Abraham Ben Ezra, who purchased the building in 882 AD for 20,000 dinars and turned it into a Jewish synagogue …

» Church of St George (Mari Girgis)

Church of St George (Mari Girgis), Cairo

Dedicated to one of the region's most popular Christian saints, the current Church of St George (or Mari Girgis) was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, although the original was established as far back as the 10th century. This Coptic Christian church has a distinctive style, having been built on top of a round Roman tower; it is the only circular church in Egypt. Its dark interior is an atmospheric place, thick with incense and with sunbeams filtering in through stained glass windows …

» Citadel of Saladin (Al-Qalaa)

Citadel of Saladin (Al-Qalaa), Cairo

Sprawling over a limestone spur on the eastern edge of the city, the Citadel of Saladin (or Al-Qalaa) was home to Egypt's rulers for some 700 years. Their legacy is a collection of three very different mosques, including the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, several palaces (housing some underwhelming museums such as the police and military museums) and a couple of terraces with city views. The area was fortified around 1180 to protect it from the Crusaders. In the 1860s, ruler Khedive Ismail moved to newly built Abdin Palace, ending the citadel's role as the seat of government …

» City of the Dead (Qarafa)

City of the Dead (Qarafa), Cairo

Qarafa, or The City of the Dead, is two 4 mile (6 km) long cemeteries - a north and south cemetery - dating from Mamluk times (1200s - 1500s) and is still in use today. Traditionally all families kept a mausoleum and these days some families use them for living in as well as for burials. Some families have been inhabiting the tombs for generations, some arrived more recently after the 1967 war displaced them from the canal zone. The north cemetery has more people residing in it and estimates are up to half a million people live there …

» Coptic Museum

Coptic Museum, Cairo

Founded in 1908, this museum houses Coptic art from Greco-Roman times to the Islamic era drawn from Cairo, the desert monasteries and Nubia. If you are interested in Egyptian history and art post-pharoahs, this is the place for you. In recent years it has undergone a major restoration, and has recently reopened. Exhibits include textiles, frescoes, stonework, woodwork, manuscripts, glass and ceramics. There's a pleasant enclosed garden and a small café …

» Dahshur

Dahshur, Cairo

Think of Dahshur as pyramid-proving grounds: Although not nearly as famous at the pyramids of Giza, the structures here pre-date the Great Pyramids and highlight the engineering progress and understanding that took place on the way from a stepped structure to a true pyramid. The royal necropolis at Dahshur comprises a two-mile (3.5-kilometer) field of pyramids that date back between the fourth and 12th dynasties, and although 11 structures once dotted the landscape, only two remain: the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid …

» Djoser's Pyramid

Djoser's Pyramid, Cairo

Djoser was a king in the 3rd Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, ruling from 2667 BC - 2648 BC. He was the first to build a pyramid for his tomb. It was a development from the low, flat-roofed mastabas and was a series of steps - hence the name 'Step Pyramid' now known as Djoser's Pyramid. It formed part of a tomb complex Djoser built for himself at Saqqara, just outside Memphis, then the capital of Egypt. The 205 ft (62 m) tall pyramid was designed by Imhotep and was intended to facilitate the pharaoh's journey to the afterlife …

» Egyptian Antiquities Museum

Egyptian Antiquities Museum, Cairo

Without doubt, the exhibit that outshines everything else is the treasure of the young New Kingdom Pharaoh Tutankhamun - don't miss the astonishing solid-gold death mask. Other highlights include the Royal Mummy Room; the Amarna Room, devoted to Akhenaten, the Greco-Roman Mummies; the glittering galleries that display an astounding array of finery extracted from New Kingdom tomb; and the larger-than-life-size statue of Khafre (Chephren) …

» El Alamein War Cemetery

El Alamein War Cemetery, Cairo

El Alamein, situated on the Mediterranean coast around four hours north of Cairo, is the site of where two battles were fought during World War II. The War Cemetery in the town houses the graves of allied soldiers who died during this time, particularly in the Battle of El Alamein of 1942. The cemetery contains over 7000 commonwealth burials from the war, of which 815 are unidentified. There are also more than a hundred war graves belonging to men of other nationalities …

» El Mokattam Mountain Cave Church (Monastery of St Simon)

El Mokattam Mountain Cave Church (Monastery of St Simon), Cairo

El Mokattam Mountain Cave Church, also known as the Monastery of St Simon, is located in the Mokattam mountain in southeast Cairo. The area is known as 'garbage city' due to the large number of garbage collectors or 'Zabbaleen' that live there and sort through the city's waste, recycling up to 80% of it. To reach El Mokattam Mountain Cave Church, visitors must weave through winding alleys before arriving at the entrance to what is believed to be one of the largest engraved monasteries in the world …

» El Mu'ayyad Mosque

El Mu'ayyad Mosque, Cairo

The red-and-white-striped Mosque of al-Mu'ayyad (the Red Mosque), built on the site where its patron Mamluk Sultan al-Mu'ayyad had earlier been imprisoned, displays a particularly grand entrance portal, dripping with stalactite vaulting; the interior is equally lavish. The mosque was completed in 1421 and was considered the finest built in Cairo. It is one of the finest examples of Mamluk architecture in Egypt with a dome and two minarets standing at the southern gate. Originally all four sides were equally decorated …

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Cairo Tours, Travel & Activities
Cairo Hotels & Accommodation

Magical Journeys to CairoCairo Travel,
Tours & Activities

Cairo Tours, Travel & Activities

Cairo's historic buildings are buried in age-old quarters of the city that have yet to be tamed and made tourist-friendly, so take a tour to get beneath the skin of this manmade wonder. While the Giza Pyramids are right on Cairo's doorstep, the city is also a great base for excursions to destinations further afield like Memphis or Alexandria, or why not customize your own private tour? …

» CAIRO Tours, Travel & Activities

Cairo HotelsCairo Hotels
& Accommodation

Cairo Hotels

Situated on the River Nile, Cairo is famous for its own history - preserved in the fabulous medieval Islamic city and in Old Cairo - and for the ancient, Pharaonic history of the country it represents. No trip to Cairo would be complete, for example, without a visit to the Giza Pyramids, to nearby Saqqara, or to the Egyptian Museum …

Cairo Hotels

» CAIRO Hotels & Accommodation

» Cairo Travel Guides

Cairo Travel Guides