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Cairo Attractions

Cairo is the largest metropolis in Arab world, featuring countless attractions ranging from the mysterious pyramids to the ancient monuments, historical museums, various minarets and the seemingly endless Nile River. Generally, these classic scenic spots can be visited within 3 days. In addition to admiring the spectacular architecture and the spellbinding sights, the ancient Egyptian civilization with a history of 4,000 years can be learnt in the Egyptian Museum through a large number of cultural relics.

Top Attractions

1. Pyramids of Giza

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Pyramids of Giza is the most famous area to see pyramid in Egypt, which is located in the southwest suburb of Cairo. The complex includes three great pyramids - Pyramid of Khufu, Pyramid of Khafre and Pyramid of Menkaure, among which the Pyramid of Khufu, aka the Great Pyramid of Giza is the tallest, constructed for the fourth Dynasty pharaoh Khufu between 2580–2560 BC. Pyramid of Khafre is the second-largest pyramid on the earth, built by the second son of Khufu, Khafre. In addition, in this area tourists can see the Great Sphinx that is a giant 4,500-year-old colossal limestone statue facing directly from west to east.

2. Egyptian Museum

With a pink appearance, Egyptian Museum stands in the middle of the Tahrir Square, which is in the heart of downtown Cairo. Be composed of two floors, the museum exhibits grand treasures from the old kingdoms of ancient Egypt that can date back to 2700 BC, including more than 120,000 artefacts. The ground floor displays relics from the old history of Egypt to the Greco-Roman Period, while on the second floor you will find exotic exhibits that include the mummies that were discovered in the 19th century, the tomb of Tutankhamen and the belongings of Queen Hatshepsut.

3. Al Azhar Mosque

Al Azhar Mosque is the first built and the finest mosque in Cairo. Founded in 972, this mosque was initially a place for religious activities and later became an Islamic institution for higher education in the 13th century. Al Azhar Mosque covers an area of 12,000 square meters, and its earliest part - spacious central courtyard is surrounded by the halls on three sides. Among them, the East Hall is the largest and consists of five corridors. On the right side of the main gate of the courtyard stands a two-spire minaret built in the year of 1514, which is the most magnificent and beautiful minaret of the mosque.

4. Citadel of Cairo

Sprawling on Cairo’s eastern edge, Citadel of Cairo or Citadel of Saladin was constructed by Saladin in 1176 initially as a military fortress against the Crusaders. Situated above the Mokattam Hill, Citadel of Cairo provides a high point for visitors to overlook the panorama of Cairo city. In the northeast, tourists will come across the grand El-Nasir Mosque, where there is a complex of small museums including the Military Museum, the Police National Museum, the Museum of Royal Carriages and the Citadel Prison Museum. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is also located in the Citadel of Cairo, which boasts high minarets rising up to 80 meters (262.5 feet).

5. Hanging Church

Also knowns as the Al-Moallaqa in Arabic, Hanging Church is named for its location above the southern gate of the Babylon Fortress. The interior of the church is beautifully decorated by bones and ivories, reflecting Islamic art. Some of the highlights of the Hanging Church are ancient icons, the oldest of which can date back to the 8th century. There are many other artifacts from the church displayed in Coptic Museum, such as a wooden lintel that tells the story of Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem from the 5th or 6th century.

More Tourist Attractions in Cairo

1. Al-Azhar University is the third oldest university in the world and is renowned as the most prestigious university for Sunni Islamic learning.

2. Bab Zuweila is one of three remaining city wall gates of Fatimid Cairo built in 1091-1092. There is a tiny museum inside where you can see a number of exhibits about the gate's history.

3. Babylon Fortress is located on the cliff near the east bank of the Nile River, which was built during the 6th century BC by the Persians. Some important monuments inside the fortress include the Hanging Church, Coptic Museum and the Church of St. George’s.

4. Ben Ezra Synagogue, once a Christian church, now is an old Jewish temple decorated in ornate and elegant style. As a place of pilgrimage for North African Jews, the synagogue has two floors - the lower one for men and the upper one for women.

5. Cairo Opera House is the best place to enjoy classical Western and Arabic music in Egypt. It can contain around 1,200 people at one point of time, and people are expected to dress in formal wear for entering the Main Hall.

6. City of the Dead or Cairo Necropolis was a cemetery complex for past Muslims and now it has become a city itself in center of Cairo where a number of 20 million individuals live.

7. Coptic Museum was built in 1910 to gather a huge collection of antiquities and artifacts that express the Christian Faith. One of the important exhibits is David Psalm’s book which is in a special separated room. In addition, you can enjoy elaborate woodcarvings, manuscripts, 4-7th-century textiles and so on.

8. Coptic Cairo, the oldest part of Cairo, is rich in numerous religious monuments and ancient architecture like Coptic Museum, Hanging Church, and St. George Church.

9. Islamic Cairo was once the center of Cairo and now remains one of the most crowded areas in Cairo. Here stand many mosques and Islamic landmarks including Saladin Citadel, Sultan Hassan Mosque, Ibn Tulun Mosque and Al-Azhar Park.

10. The history of Khan El-Khalili Market dates back to the 14th century BC, and the bazaar was originally built by a merchant named Khalili for business activities. Since then, traders have been selling jewelry, gold, silver, copper products and high-grade spices here. Nowadays, the Khan El-Khalili has become the largest market in Cairo for souvenirs and local specialties.

11. Museum of Islamic Art is the largest and the most comprehensive museum with Islamic art as its theme in the world. This museum preserves many kinds of Islamic artwork from different continents, such as a rare collection of seals, textiles, Turkish carpets, and a set of astronomy and engineering tools.

12. Mosque of Ibn Tulun is one of the oldest surviving mosques in the African continent. It was built in around 879 AD during the reign of Ahmad Tulun and is still used by the locals for Friday’s prayer.

13. Memphis, situated on the west bank of the Nile, is one of the oldest cities in ancient Egypt, filled with historical sites including the Pyramid of Djoser, Open Museum and the Great Temple of Ptah.

14. Mosque of Muhammad Ali, situated in the Citadel of Cairo, has a total of 2 sections - the eastern and the western section / courtyard; and the Tomb of Mohamed Ali stands in the eastern section. The mosque features its beautiful domes with 84-meter-high (275 feet) minarets.

15. Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-As is the first mosque built in the African continent. Its establishment marks the beginning of the rise of Arab and Islamic in Africa and Egypt. Predominantly Islamic, this mosque has undergone several renovations over the centuries, and with the time, many additional architectural features were added to the monument including towering minarets, concave prayer niche and new aisles.

16. Pharaonic Village with a history of 3,000 years offers tourists a chance to explore the times of Pharaohs with a lot of replicas of buildings, clothing and exhibitions, such as pyramids and Tutankhamun Tomb.

17. Sultan Hassan Mosque, or Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, is considered as the finest piece of Mamluk architecture in Cairo. The lanterns and windows in this temple are made of exquisite and colorful glass, painted with flower designs and Arabic inscriptions; while the walls are decorated with luxurious patterned tiles.

18. Saqqara is a huge ancient cemetery in Egypt which belongs to the historic Memphis. Sprawling for over 7 kilometers (4.3 mi) long, Saqqara is the largest area in Egyptian necropolis, where you could admire the oldest Egyptian pyramid - Step Pyramid.

19. Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt’s first pyramid built 4,700 years ago, is 62 meters high (203 feet) and has six storeys. The construction used 11.6 million cubic feet of stone and clay.

20. St. George Church located in the Babylon Fortress of Coptic Cairo is a Greek Orthodox Church that dates back to the 10th century.

21. Tahrir Square is a major public square situated in the center of Cairo downtown. It is not only one of the most important transportation hubs in Cairo, but also surrounded by government agencies, fast food restaurants, hotels and famous attractions like Egyptian Museums.