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About city Gallery Where to stay

Situated on both sides of the River Nile, near its estuary, Cairo is the largest city in Egypt and all of North Africa. Cairo is noisy, chaotic, completely unpredictable and full of true stories.

Cairo is the long-term capital of Egypt, which is currently home to nearly 8 million people (or 25 million, counting together with the suburbs). Since the population density per square kilometre here is one of the highest in the world, the city is teeming with buildings, people and cars. Many travel guides like to compare it to a bee hive.

Cairo traffic jam
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Cairo traffic jam

Cairo has been inhabited for more than 6,000 years, and has always been an important place for many of Egypt’s civilizations. The locals tend to identify Cairo with Egypt itself – to them, Cairo is Egypt, and vice versa. They’re both frequently referred to as Misr, an Arabic name for Egypt, thereby emphasising Cairo’s importance to the country.

The city has also become an important transport node. It has well-developed metallurgy, automobile, textile and chemistry industries. Metal and leather goods are wide-spread here. The city has several metro lines, four universities, an academy, the Institute of Egypt, and 10 museums. Cairo is a mix of both Western and Eastern cultures where the old meets the new. However, the city is also rife with social and economic problems, large shanty towns, and an incomplete infrastructure.

Cairo old town
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Cairo old town

Since Cairo lacks space for growth, it’s not unusual to see a modern computer equipment store right next to a district with clay houses and goats roaming the premises and water being pumped from a faucet outside. That’s especially prevalent downtown, near the river.

Despite that, the city’s impressive architecture enchants with its variety. We recommend you visit the Mosque of Ibn Tulun (4th century AD), the Al-Azhar Mosque (10th century AD), the city gates (11th century AD), the Cairo Citadel (12th century AD), the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan (14th century AD) and the Mamluk Mausoleum (15-16th century AD).

The city is also home to such diverse things as medieval alleys, pyramids and small 19th century cafés. Quite surprisingly, none of these places feel like museums – all of them are integral to contemporary Cairo.

The Western bank of the Nile is not quite as significant to historians, and significantly less populated than its Eastern cousin. Lined up North to South you’ll find the districts of Mohadiseen, Agouza, Goqqi and Giza. The latter is the largest of the four, stretching westwards for around 20 km. The district is traversed by a straight road that leads directly to the Great Pyramids. The famous World Wonder is now surrounded by city buildings and urban hubbub.

Pyramid of Giza in Egypt
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Pyramid of Giza in Egypt

Midan Tahrir is the very centre of Cairo. The Old Town is located northeast from it. It’s a noisy and busy commercial district that’s home to most of the city’s cheap catering establishments and hotels. Midan Ramses, home to the main railway station, is located in the northernmost spot of the Old Town. Behind it you’ll find the working class districts like the Shubra.

Cairo’s Islamic part is located east from the city centre. Situated at the heart of the district you’ll find the great market of Khan Al-Khalili, which you absolutely have to visit. The winding streets of the Garden City – the embassy district – stretches southwards from the Midan Tahrir. Shantytowns begin right after it and comprise the Old Cairo. Coptic Cairo is also nearby.

Visiting all the attractions of Cairo would take more than just a few days. Big traffic jams, large crowds of people and urban noise make navigation more difficult, and the size of Cairo is at first more intimidating than amazing. However, Cairo is the real gate to Africa, situated near the estuary of the world’s longest river.

Where to stay

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