Cairo is an ancient city that has seen many conquests but remained unconquered. That is the reason why it was given the name ‘Al Qahirah’ meaning the ‘victorious.’ Today as the capital of Egypt, it has the best educational institutions, regional headquarters of international organizations, good health facilities, public transport including the modern metro and outstanding monuments.
Cairo, the Nile city
Cairo is blessed with the Nile as it is on the bank of the river north of Egypt. As a densely populated city with heavy traffic on the roads, it is a pleasure to sail down the Nile on the traditional ‘felucca’ or cruise especially in the evenings. There are special tours with dinner on the cruise as Cairo lights up by the night on the Nile. Giza, a suburb of Cairo, also on the Nile can be reached by crossing over a bridge.
To Giza, the city of Pyramids
Thousands of tourists visiting Cairo, drive down to Giza to look at the amazing Pyramids, the wonders of the world. Giza 18 km from the city centre can be reached in half an hour. The Sphinx along with the three pyramids are laid out on an area of 2000 sq. m. Built on steps with 30 ft. long stones, these rugged pyramids are a testimony to time.
The sound and light show held at the Giza plateau in the evenings recreates the life and times of Egypt with laser beams, light projections and appropriate soundtrack. As the Sphinx unfolds the history of Egypt through dramatized sound light show, the land of Pharaohs magically comes alive.
Sakkrah and Memphis
The oldest and the first pyramid, though, is at Sakkarah, near Giza. Built for King Zoser of the third dynasty, this step pyramid built of limestone is 62 and a half m high. A short distance from Sakkarah is Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. What remains today is an indoor and outdoor museum containing the massive statues of King Ramses II and a huge sphinx weighing almost 80 tons guarding the entrance to the temple.
The Cairo museum displays many more rich treasures of Egypt. Housing 165,000 artifacts, the museum takes us through the life and rule of its Pharaohs. What is most interesting, though, is the priceless treasures of King Tutankhamun especially his gold gilded coffins and masks on display.
Cairo tower and Blue Mosque
The Cairo tower, standing tall at 185 m, stands out on the skyline of Cairo. The Blue Mosque or Mohammad Ali mosque atop a limestone hill, on the other hand, is a distinct landmark of Cairo. Resembling the famous Blue mosque of Turkey, this blue-gray alabaster mosque with its imposing dome and minarets, is a great piece of Islamic architecture.
Housed inside a sturdy citadel, this is also a good place to visit for a breezy view of the city. The Sultan Hassan mosque is another mosque displaying fine example of Mamluk architecture. One of the largest in the whole Islamic world, measuring 492 ft long and 118 ft. high, its highest minaret is 223 ft. long.
A trip to Cairo would remain incomplete without a visit to its Pharonic village. Recreated on a papyrus plantation, the Pharonic village beautifully showcases ancient Egyptian life and times. The tour starts with a ride on the Felucca (traditional Egyptian boat) through the canal of history with images of Pharaohs all along and their exploits told through a commentary.
Getting down from the boat, one can visit old Egyptian temples, homes and museums of Pyramids, mummification, Islamic history and Tutankhamun. The replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb with all its treasures is a masterpiece. Before bidding goodbye, one can shop for Papyrus and dress up as Pharaohs and queens for the photograph to take back home.