Covering an area of approximately 500 sq km along with an estimated population of 22 million, Greater Cairo is crowned as the largest city in the Middle East and Africa. Cairo’s Arabian name is ‘ al-Qahirah’ which means ‘the conqueror’ or ‘the vanquisher’ in Arabic. The city of 1000 minarets was founded in 969 by the Fatimid Caliphate from Tunisia although there were earlier settlements. This historical city also hosts one of the oldest universities in the world- the al-Azhar University, which was founded in 975 CE. Also known as ‘Umm al-Dounia’ by Egyptians which means Mother of the World, Cairo is a city which is steeped and thriving in a time now past for the rest of the world.
You can reach this beautiful city through the Cairo International Airport which allows both national and international flights. So you should be able to book Dubai to Cairo flights, New York to Cairo flights, Sydney to Cairo flights and more with ease.
Arriving in this city can be pleasurably overwhelming, but there is plenty to do here to help immerse oneself in the culture:
- Get stunned by the Cairo Tower: The Borg Al-Qahira or the Cairo tower towers at 187 metres has been the tallest structure in Egypt for around 50 years. Located on Gezira Island, it is serene place with the Nile flowing around it. A major tourist attraction, the tower has a distinctive latticework imitating a lotus, thanks to Naoum Chebib. The best time to visit is definitely dusk so that you can take in everything from the twinkling city lights to the illuminated tower.
- Visit the Al-Azhar Park: Opened in 2006, the Al-Azhar Park provides an escape from all the pollution and noise of central Cairo. The park is around one km in length and is designed along the pathways of traditional geometric Islamic lines. It includes waterways, fountains, an orchard, multi-colored stonework, palms and more. There also a total of 325 varieties of plant which are all carefully labeled. The park is also a great place to get some spectacular views of the Citadel along with the Mohamed Ali Mosque. The lush gardens have a special feature called the Ayyubid Wall dating from 1176 which was revealed after centuries worth of trash was removed from the site.
- Visit Coptic Cairo: Let’s start with a bit of history- before being invaded in 640 AD by an Arab army; Egypt was actually a Christian nation. The people living there were known as Copts. But the invading leader’s kindness led to their survival. Spread over 8000 square km, this place houses the Coptic Museum, Hanging Church and the Babylon Fortress along with 110 religious icons. Pro tip: While here, do keep an eye out for a black 13th pillar which supports the pulpit. This is supposed to represent Judas.
Seemingly lost in time, this city represents a part of history seldom appreciated in contemporary times. Visiting it is like stepping into a time machine; the only difference is that you will never want to come back.