One of the largest cities in Africa and the Middle East, Cairo is in a class of its own. Located on the Nile River, the atmosphere is one of ancient meets modern. A place where donkey carts share the roadway with cars. Egyptians call it Umm Ad Dunya, meaning ‘Mother of the World’. Travelers will call it an eye-opening experience.
Cairo has different identities, depending on the parts the traveler visits. In the center is historic Cairo, and within its center is Islamic Cairo. Here, the traveler will find mosques like the Al-Hakim Mosque built in 990 AD, as well as the Qalawun Complex built in 1304 AD, which contains a mosque, an Islamic school, and a mausoleum that nearly rivals the Taj Mahal in grand beauty. Just nearby is the Khan el-Khalili bazaar. This lively street of shopping has markets that sell spices, clothing, perfumes, jewelry, furniture and local foods. A walk down through this bazaar’s maze of stalls along stone corridors is highly unique experience, with many chances for the traveler to practice their haggling skills.
Just outside of Cairo proper is the Giza plateau that features the mighty Pyramids of Giza. Built in 2570 BC, these pyramids are part of a complex of burial temples honoring great leaders. The main limestone pyramid, aptly named the Great Pyramid of Giza, was the tallest man-made structure in the world for 4,000 years when finished. The sheer size of these temples will stagger the traveler’s mind, particularly when keeping in mind that they were created by manual labor. To look up at these marvels of human history is to see the human drive to touch the sky, to reach the heavens where only gods had once tread. Add in a stop at the Great Sphinx, the famous temple fashioned after a hybrid of cat and pharaoh to round off the site seeing.
Another to experience the history of Cairo, and Egypt, is to visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. This museum holds a rather extensive collection of antiquities from ancient Egypt. One amazing artifact is the 11 kg, solid-gold Mask of Tutankhamun, one of the most famous pharaohs who reigned from 1332 – 1323 BC. Statues of other rulers adorn the hallway as well. There are also two rooms that contain preserved mummies from different periods. Outside the museum are memorials to famous Egyptologists who recovered much of these ancient artifacts from long-buried tombs, so they could be presented to the public. A fantastic day will be spent roaming its halls – at least until the opening of the planned Great Egyptian Museum, which is located at Giza. This updated museum, with a 5.2 million-square-foot area and more modern look, is planned to open in 2021.
Cairo, and Egypt as a whole, has seen a rise in tourism (particularly group tours) over the years. With this in mind, Cairo is waiting once again for the traveler to explore a more than hospitable culture and remnants of an ancient civilization known for advanced technology for the time it existed. Is Cairo worth a visit? Absolutely. Especially with EgyptAir getting the traveler to Cairo with courtesy and direct flights to this ancient city.
For those worried about COVID-19, EgyptAir has made it mandatory for masks to be worn during flights; and, Egypt has currently instituted multiple safety precautions in airports, hotels, and other essential places for travelers.
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