Cairo, Egypt (Capital)

Khunel Khalili Market Islamic Cairo Egypt
Khun el-Khalili Market
- Islamic Cairo, Egypt
Pat dunlap Al-Azhar Mosque Isamic Cairo Egypt
Pat with Headdress 
at Al-Azhar Mosque
- Isamic Cairo, Egypt
Bringing Bread to Market Isamic Cairo Egypt
Bringing Bread to Market
- Isamic Cairo, Egypt
Water Pipes Khumel Khalili Market Islamic Cairo Egypt
Water Pipes in Khun el-Khalili Market
- Islamic Cairo, Egypt
Fatta Lunch Cairo Egypt Food
Fatta Lunch - Cairo, Egypt
Men Praying Street Cairo Egypt Islamic Muslim
Men Praying in Street - Cairo, Egypt
Cairo Tower and Nile City Boat Night Nile River Egypt
Cairo Tower & Nile City Boat at Night
- Nile River, Cairo, Egypt
Pat Dunlap Fishawy's Coffee House Islamic Cairo Egypt
Pat at Fishawy's Coffee House 
- Islamic Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt (Capital) (4/21-23/2010) - Cairo is a city of contrasts and transitions.  

Men walk the Cairo streets in modern western clothes yet women wear tradition clothing with their heads covered. Within blocks of modern buildings and streets, donkey carts can be found on potholed streets. 

People everywhere in Cairo are very warm and sociable yet sometimes it is difficult to tell when offering their hand for assistance they may expect some money in it after helping you. 

Cairo has become a political and economic hub for North Africa and the Arab World yet its infrastructure is neglected, dated, and stretched way too far and pollution is a major issue. 

Cairo was established a 'mere' 1,000 years ago (hey, the nearby Giza pyramids are almost 5,000 years old) in North Africa on the Nile River. With almost 20 million people, Cairo is by far the largest metropolitan area in Egypt, third largest in Africa, and 11th in the world. 

We stayed in Cairo for only two days visiting Islamic and downtown Cairo as well as the Egyptian Museum. With medieval narrow streets lined with Islamic architecture and crowded with vendors in a shopping area dating back to 1382, Khun el-Khalili and Islamic Cairo gave us a rush of all our senses experiencing the full culture shock of the traditional Muslim world (see photos). Even Pat had to wear a headdress (see photo) when visiting a mosque. 

In Khan el-Khalili, one of the world's great bazaars, you are awashed with the smells of spices, incense, and other smells.

We were treated to a personal tour of the 1,000-year-old Al-Azhar Mosque that has served for ten centuries to today as Egypt’s main center of Islamic study (see photos). 

We received a major coffee rush from thick Turkish coffee from the famous Fishawy’s coffeehouse open round the clock since 1772, had a traditional Egyptian lunch (fatta – a dish of rice and lamb - see photo), and an elegant dining experience at the Intercontinental Hotel (see photo) after wandering along Cairo's Nile River

Pat Dunlap Dome of Sultan Al-Nassir ModammedIbn Qalawun Islamic Cario
Pat at Dome of Sultan 
Al-Nassir ModammedIbn Qalawun 
- Islamic Cario

We also enjoyed our visit to Cairo's Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. 

The Egyptian Museum has 136,000 pharaonic artifacts on display, with many more hundreds of thousands in its basement storerooms. Just a few of these would be prized processions in most museums around the world. Here they were sitting at the end of a hallway with no label. 

Elegant Intercontinental Hotel Cairo Egypt
Elegant Intercontinental Hotel - Cairo, Egypt
Pat was very impressed with the Egyptian Museum's ancient Egyptian gold jewelry collection. 

Wayne was amazed by the 3,000–4,000 year old technology and craftsmanship demonstrated by this amazing collection. We also visited Cario's 12th-century Citadel of Saladin where Egypt’s rulers lived for 700 years. 

Map of Egypt
Map of Egypt
We stayed in the historic Windsor Hotel. Rich in history, it was built at the turn of the last century as the baths of the Egyptian royal family. The Windsor Hotel claims to have the oldest continuously operating elevator in the world - it was an interesting adventure to use. The Windsor Hotel also served for many years as a colonial British officers club in Cairo and the famous Barrel Bar is located here.

Men Praying in the Street Cairo Egypt
Men Praying in the Street - Cairo, Egypt
Some history... The Giza Pyramids and ancient Cairo history is amazing. In more modern times, by the mid-14th century Cairo was one of the largest and most wealthy cities in world by the due to the spice trade among other things. Before the Ottomans took over, Cairo declined for 200 years due to the Black Death and the discovery of the sea route around Cape Hope for the spice trade. 

Islamic Cairo
Islamic Cairo
When Napoleon arrived in Cairo in 1798, the city's population was less than 300,000, 40% lower than it was at the height of its influence in the mid-14th century. The British quickly ousted the French and then the Albanians took control of Cairo. The 19th century saw modernization inspired by Paris and British occupation in 1882. Although intended to be temporary (sounds familiar), British troops remained until 1956. Cairo experienced great growth during this period and has experienced considerable growth thereafter.

For more about amazing Egypt and the Pyramids, Temples, and treasures along the Nile River, please see our 5 other blog posts:

and Egypt’s beautiful Red Sea resorts:

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  1. Wonderful post on the history and culture of Cairo! I had a female friend visit Cairo and many parts of Egypt. She loved it but also felt a little threatened by the men at times? Did you get any sense of that at all?

    The oldest continuously operating elevator seems a bit scary. Hotels in the States should take note -- hire that Elevator company!

  2. Taught ancient history for years and specialised in Ancient Egypt, so anything to do with this is interesting. Cairo would be a sensory over load in the best way

  3. If we had a "Bucket List" Egypt and its capital city, Cairo, would be right at the top! I've long been fascinated by this country's ancient history and civilization. I can imagine spending many days roaming the streets, looking at the architecture as well as trying some of the unique dishes. Thanks for this very interesting post!

  4. You really packed in a lot of experiences over your two days. I recently met a woman from Cairo at a blogging conference, and we now have a renewed interest in visiting Egypt.

  5. Cairo is such a big city. I, too, visited the fabulous Khan el-Khalili bazaar. What an exotic delight. But I didn't make it to Fishawy’s coffeehouse. Hard to believe it's been
    open round the clock since 1772!


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