The Saladin Citdal is located atop a hill right outside of central Cairo, about a 10min. taxi ride from Tahir Square. It Citadel complex is made up of several mosques, including the impressive Muhammad Ali Mosque. And while the complex has an austere beauty, one of my favorite parts was the view of Cairo from above. It's just of nice to enjoy the sprawling chaos that is Cairo from a nice quiet spot above it all, if only for a few minutes. This is definately a Cairo top-5.
Undoubtedly, the souk of Cairo is one of the city's main tourist attractions and at the same time, is one of the world's most famous bazaars, perhaps second only to that of Damascus or Istanbul. Its streets are lined with all types of craft stalls. Although, there are many knockoffs so be careful with what you buy. Of course, the selling technique is bargaining. The advice is usually to try to get the products that interest you for about 60% of what they ask for at the start. In this bazaar you can buy all kinds of handmade pieces (bracelets, necklaces ...), clothes, scents and perfumes, spices, silver, hookahs, djellabas ...
The Alabaster Mosque is the most beautiful mosque in Cairo, even though it isn't the biggest. The city is known as the "thousand minarets" referring to the large number of mosques that you can find. It is famous for several reasons: You are on top of the Citadel of Saladin, it was built by a Christian and it is a replica of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul. It is a place that attracts a lot of tourists, and inside you will find dozens of tour groups.
This museum is kind of like the Prado in Madrid, but it has all things Egyptian. You can't visit it in just one day. But yes, the essential things can be seen in a morning. For example, all of the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamun (sarcophagi, masks, jewelry and even boxers included-) Enter the sculptures of seated or the priest and his wife. Although the facade looks great the inside is actually so rickety that you'll be surprised by how easy it is to play almost every piece and that more than a museum seems an antique. The glass and wood display cases are very poor ... Yes, see what you have seen so many times in textbooks of art history, is priceless!
One of the coolest things in Cairo was going to the Nile at night. The banks of the Nile are apparently the Egyptian version of Lover's Lane. It was all teenagers and young adults who'd managed to get together and have a moment of intimate conversation (something I've heard is rare) or a clandestine holding of hands. There are lots of food and drink vendors and a general hang-out vibe permeates the place. The Cairo Tower reflecting off the river is also an incredibly beautiful sight. It's nice during the day, too! I'd recommend walking along the river at night, and spend the day admiring the river and its fisherman from the May 15 Bridge
When you go to Egypt, visit the Pyramids and the most ancient Coptic and Islamic monuments. However, do not miss the folk traditions of Egypt. More than 40 artists, including musicians, dancers and singers, Egyptian folk present all aspects especially a type of Sufi dance called Dance Tannoura. Sufi Dance essentially consists of turning on your own axis, facilitating altered states of consciousness and mystical ecstasy. "Wherever you may look, the face of God exists," states the Koran. It is a decidedly playful and joyful act. The dancers claim that during their turns the soul leaves the body and travels, shedding their earthly bonds and returning to the highest infinity. Besides the turning which they use during the dance, the dervishes use it as a form of meditation via movement.
There are two old parts of Cairo, the Coptic Christian neighborhood and the Islamic neighborhood (known as Old Islamic Cairo). The former is a pedestrian-only area which you can access via the Mar Girgis metro station. There's a lot of security on Saleh Salem Street and there's usually a police checkpoint with a metal detector; if you go by the metro, you won't have to deal with it. The points of interest include the third century Hanging Church with its beautiful icons from the eighth to eighteenth centuries, the ruins of the Roman Bablyon Fortress, the Greek Orthodox church of St. George, and several lesser churches. The cemetery is also nice. It is a tourist area where there are not many local places to eat, and the prices are higher than average.
This church is more well-known as "The Hanging Church," which you can get through through a patio after climbing some stairs. It's also famous for supposedly being the place where the Holy Family took refuge after fleeing from Egypt.
On the walls of the exterior patio there are several mosaics, all of which are brightly colored and beautiful.
The City of the Dead is a massive above-ground necropolis that has a squatter population numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Many of the houses there are actually mausoleums that have been emptied of their previous occupants. I first encountered The City of the Dead on my trip to the Sunday Market. You can ask your hotel reception to write out the name of the Sunday Market in Arabic for the taxi driver. The receptionist will probably, as happened with me, try to convince you not to go. Don't listen. The Sunday Market is a pretty intense, but worthwhile, experience. It's massive. People are selling everything from trinkets, to fake designer goods, to snakes, to camels. Get ready to haggle! Keep in mind that you'll probably be one of the only foreigners there, so best not go if that idea makes you uncomfortable. Taking my camera out and shooting a lot of photos there did, in fact, make me uncomfortable, so I simply didn't do it. Get ready to haggle! The City of the Dead is the slum that borders the Sunday Market and is worth a bit of your time. You feel like you've been transported back in time. It's an extremely impovrished area and has a dangerous reputation, but I didn't notice a lot more than the occasional strange look. Don't miss it!
The most interesting thing about Cairo, not including its pyramids, is something you'll find in a place called "Old Cairo." There is where the real essence of the city is. To pass through its streets, losing yourself among the markets and even learning to haggle, is one of the experiences that's not to be missed. It's also interesting to be able to go in a mosque, even though, of course, women have to be covered. Normally they don't let tourists in, but there are some the are ready for foreigners that they can go in if it's not during prayer hour.
This park is located east of Cairo. It is a place of relaxation and tranquility, where locals and tourists alike come to get away from the hustle and bustle, and of course the heat of the city. From here you can see some of the mosques, with their domes and minarets, as well as the citadel. Children play in the green grass and enjoy snacks in the shade of the trees, and couples often come here for a romantic afternoon. There's a restaurant at the top, and although I can't remember its name, the prices and service were great. This place seems like heaven after so many days of busy travelling!
The church of Mar Girgis (St. George) is in the Orthodox neighborhood of Cairo, next to the Mar Girgis station subway. The church dates from the tenth century, but it was rebuilt in the twentieth century following a fire that destroyed most of the old structure. It is a Greek Orthodox church, and one of the few round churches that still remains in the East. That's because it was built over one of the towers of the fortress of Babylon, which was round. The stairs leading up to the church were built with old Babylonian stones, and you can see the image of St George fighting the dragon. It has been a Greek Orthodox church since the fifteenth century. Visiting hours are restricted due to the regularly scheduled masses.
Sheikh Abdull; Perfumes Palace & Handcraft Glass is an essence exhibition-shop-factory in which a bit of history is explained and we were offered to smell different scents, above all the most typical being papyrus and lotus. Also the man who explained the essences claimed to see people's auras and to be a teacher of Raiki and aromatherapy. Therefore the visit was the extremely interesting because the group was doing divination, and speaking Castilian pretty well so there were no language problems. More than once he got the colours with his divinations.
ATTENTION! This not just any mosque. Al-Azhar is one of the most important places in the Islamic world, located in the heart of the city of Cairo, near the famous Khan el Khalili Bazaar. The name means "the most splendid", and it is a site that follows the Shia tradition, the main temple of that branch in North Africa and the Middle East. Worship here today is shared by Sunnis and Shiites, but the mosque is also a university, the most prestigious in the Islamic world. Students come from all corners of the Muslim world to study here. It was founded as a school of Shiite theology, but then became a Sunni school, and is considered by most Sunni Muslims as the most prestigious school. It is the oldest university in the world. Although some say that you can't enter nowadays, I managed to slip inside without any problems.
It was wonderful to find Khufu's funerary boat still intact on the southside of his pyramid. This vessel was responsible for carrying the great pharoah on his journey to the afterlife, and was sealed into pit at the foot of the great pyramid, the only wonder of the ancient world still standing today. There are no other funerary boats like this one still extant, and the first picture you see is the back of the great pyramid, where you can see the boat.
Make no mistake, this is not a museum, but rather a place where tourists can buy and learn to use papyrus. The whole process is quite interesting, especially considering that this technology was developed 4,000 years ago.