Egypt is a place that needs to be explored and with so many sights to see and things to do your visit will never seem to be long enough to fit it all in. It is a country where you will journey back in time to the ancient lands of the Egyptian Kings and Pharos, to huge pyramids and monuments that stretch back in time thousands of years. It is a place that one single river, the Nile sustains the whole country and where 98% of the population live on just 3% of the landmass.
It is the place of ancient history where ruling dynasties controlled the lands for centuries. It is a place of many cultures and traditions with influences from civilisations such as the Greeks, Persians,Ottomans, European and Romans. The mix of ancient and modern runs throughout,with modern structures standing out with the most ancient of monuments as a backdrop. It is a place of wonder and excitement, busy, bustling cities and barren sterile deserts.
For centuries people have been traveling to these ancient lands to discover for themselves the lives of the great Egyptians, it is seen as one of the oldest travel destinations in the world, with people from Ancient Greece and Rome travelling there to take in the great sights. It is a country that brings out the adventurer in everyone who goes and it is a place to fall in love with. The cities, landscapes and people are what make Egypt one of the major places in the world to travel to and it’s a place that you
will want to return to time and time again with a magic that draws you in and captivates you.
Cairo is the sprawling capital city of Egypt that sits on the river Nile. It is the largest city in the Arab world and is usually the place most associated with Ancient Egypt because of its proximity to Giza and the ancient city of Memphis. Located in the North of the country, which is also referred to as Lower Egypt, Cairo is a mix of the old and new that runs throughout Egypt and is the home to many world-famous monuments and historical sites of interest. The Egyptian Museum, the great Ottoman landmark Muhammad Ali Mosque, and Khan al- Khalili market are just some of the things that you must visit whilst in Cairo.
The Egyptian Museum.
A trip to Egypt just wouldn’t be complete without paying a visit to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Inside the displays trace 5,000 years of Egyptian history with 120,000 artefacts inside of which many are on show. The museum is located in Tahir Square which was the place of the Revolution in 2011. During that time the Museum was broken into and there was damage to various pieces with some even being destroyed. The damaged items have now been restored and are back on display again.
Inside the Museum you will find the greatest collection of Ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world laid out over two floors. The ground floor covers a chronological tour of the collections and the upper floors covers collections that have been grouped according to tomb or category. On the Upper floor you will discover are large number of items to have come from the Valley of the Kings including items
that have come from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Also on the second floor there are two rooms that have a number of mummies from the New Kingdom that now rest inside.
This museum is a must to put into context the history of Egypt, especially if you are going to view the Great Pyramids of Giza. If you want to take even more from the experience then you can hire a tour guide who will take you through the collection imparting all of the historical data on the different artefacts.
Muhammad Ali Mosque.
This huge Ottoman styled mosque has ruled over the Cairo skyline since 1848 and is a unique building in the Islamic world. What you will notice about this classically Turkish building is that it has been built with two minarets which was never allowed unless the mosque was being built by the sultan. This gives some indication as to the man Muhammad Ali and his thoughts. The construction of this stunning building took place between 1824 and 1848 but some work has been carried out on the domes since then.Which ever way you approach Cairo from the mosque will be visible to you and has long been one of the major landmarks in Cairo.
The mosque has a central dome and four small and four semi circular domes surround it. The two minarets sit on the Western side and rise 82 meters into the air. The mosque is built within a citadel’s walls on top of a hill and has a very commanding position although it is a bit of a steep walk up to it, that shouldn’t deter you as the walk is well worth it when you reach the top. You will see some amazing views of old Cairo that are worth the trip alone.
The mosque is the final resting place of Muhammad Ali and he is buried under a white marble monument that can be found on the right at the entrance. Other interesting artefacts are a clock that was given to Muhammad Ali by King Louis of France in 1845. As a thank you the French received the obelisk of Luxor that was placed in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
The imposing exterior is followed by a beautiful interior,the domes have been painted and the walls are alabaster. The whole feeling is one of tranquility inside and it is a wonderful place to go to experience some quiet time away from the frenetic city.
Khan al- Khalili Market.
Situated in the Islamic quarter of the city, this market is one of the major tourist attractions in Cairo. Traders in Cairo have been selling their goods here since the 14th Century. It feels like a place that never sleeps, with long trading hours, early morning until sunset or as long as people are out and about to buy! This is a place to come to find whatever you want to buy as it seems everything is sold here.The order that the Khan used to run by, where sellers were divided into districts has long gone and now it seems more like a free for all.
This is the place to come to soak up the real culture of Egypt and to experience the history of the city that is still going and which is an integral part of Egypt to this day, a trip here will seem like stepping back in time and into the heart of an old Arab soux.
Many hours can and will be lost here, wandering through the stalls, the smells of spices in the air and the hustle and bustle of busy market life happening all around you. At the end of the day there are many places to go to have something to eat and to further soak up the atmosphere of this truly amazing market.
Pyramids of Giza.
Nobody really needs to be told about the Pyramids of Giza after all they are probably one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world and going to see them is to have a once in a lifetime experience. The pyramids are something that most people will have seen in a book or on tv or as the back drop in a film but that can never capture the feeling of standing there in the flesh and experiencing them in all of their glory.
It is an easy trip from Cairo out to Giza to see the pyramids and you can either hire a guide or go it alone, whatever way you choose this will be a trip that you will never forget. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the seven ancient wonders of the world and is also now the only one remaining intact. The pyramids have stood for 4,000 years and have constantly posed questions as to how they were built and why. We know that they are burial chambers that were built by a whole army of workers that was tens of thousands in number. What has always puzzled and mystified many is the precise nature of the buildings, especially given the time in which they were constructed. The questions that have been thrown up will no doubt always remain, as will the feelings that are evoked by these mammoth structures.
The largest of the four pyramids, the Great Pyramid stands at 481 feet and although its height is dwarfed by many modern structures, at the time of its construction around 2560 BC it was the tallest structure in the world at that record continued for an impressive 3,800 years. It’s hard to imagine just how big the pyramid is until you actually stand in front of it and even with all the data that is known
about it as to its size and mass it still takes your breath away when you see it in reality.
As well as the pyramids, the other main attraction at Giza is the Great Sphinx. Standing on the Giza plateau on the west bank of the river Nile. Made from a single piece of limestone, the Sphinx has stood as a great symbol of Egypt since ancient times. Measuring 240 feet long and 66 feet high, this immense structure with the body of a lion and the head of a human was constructed around 2575 – 2467 BC.
The purpose of this amazing ancient sculpture is not known but that has never deterred visitors from coming to stand in awe at the feet of this giant creature. Any trip to Cairo must include a trip out to Giza to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. These amazing man-made structures are masterpieces to behold and are worth taking the journey out to stand in the same place as the Ancient Egyptians and soak up the history of this amazing place.
Egypt Points of Interest – Final Words.
Although the last few years has seen much social and political turmoil in Egypt, the place remains as welcoming as ever to those who want to marvel at this ancient land. It is a place steeped in deep history with its feet firmly in the modern world. Here you can take in thousands of years of history, travel down the Nile follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Pharos or grab a bargain in the market place. One thing is for sure your visit to Egypt will give you memories that you will never forget.