Things To Do In Cairo
Cairo, the capital of Egypt is the biggest city in Africa. This immense city contains most of the significant pyramids that made the Land of the Nile more famous. It is a bustling, dusty city full of honking taxis and rush hour crowds. In the narrow streets and pubs, people converge and meet up, smoke the shisha (Hookah), and enjoy a hot cup of qahwa (Arabic Coffee) and lemon infused tea. Towering hotels and office buildings rise up next to beautiful old mosques and basic housing where the poor of the city live.
In the crowded skyline of Cairo, the minarets (towers) of the Sultan Hassan Rifai mosques rise above the rooftops. The distance is a haze of dust and traffic pollution. At the beautifully restored Wakala (or Wekalet) of al-Ghawri, a show is given free to all curious and lovers of dancing dervishes. Musicians, singers and dancers whirl in this setting of the sixteenth century to the sound of drums, flutes, and other traditional instruments. Seating is quickly taken over, so plan to come up an hour early if you want to fully enjoy this amazing show.
When To Go:
The best times to visit the city are from the months of March to April and from October to November. These short shoulder seasons exhibits agreeable temperatures, less swarms of tourists, and lower lodging rates. Winter is considered as the peak season to visit Egypt's capital in light of the fact that the days are warm and sunny and the nights are cool and blustery. In case you're arranging a tour in the middle of December and February, you can expect top rates, alongside swarms of vacationers. You'll discover the best arrangements on inns amid the mid year (July to August), yet for a lot of people, going around in the intolerable hotness and the extremely humid season isn't worth the funds.
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In winter, guests feel comfortable as they combine touring with the charming climate. Normal daytime temperatures rest in the upper 60s, and nights introduce cool and windy breezes. While going to at this point of the year may sound enticing, remember that you'll be hustling through long lines at the city's principal attractions (particularly the Giza Pyramids) and high costs at each lodging and plane fares. You'll need to reserve your hotel bookings at any rate a month or two ahead of time to guarantee accessibility.
These are the places to see and things to do when in the city of Cairo.
To visit Cairo and see the pyramids is not impossible, for it is really hard to miss its imposing presence in the heart of the city. In fact, you can come very close to see and touch the huge blocks and you can even try to climb on them. With a guide anyone can descend deep into the pyramid through the tunnel. Don’t forget to take the obligatory photo with the background of the pyramids. Be careful, as the local Arabs will persistently offer you all sorts of services, you can pay a little bit, but they will not stop and can make you fork out considerably. But all this is nothing compared to the fact that you have visited and seen the great pyramids of Egypt.
Once you have reached the Gizeh Plateau and see the surrounding pyramids, you will begin to wonder how people could build such monumental structures with smooth and enormous stones and at a towering height, knowing for a certain fact that until today most of this country still moves on camels. It is such a delight to see and admire its vast size and with the presence of the Bedouins who not only offer a good camel ride tour, you also have the chance to buy souvenirs like a papyrus (stationery made from the plant endemic in this region), trinkets, and wooden crafts. Be sure to haggle for the right price.
Pyramid of Khufu (1st Pyramid)
The Pyramid of Khufu (Keops in Greek) is the main remaining marvel of the old world. Fabricated of in excess of two million pieces of limestone, the pyramid is a standout amongst the most amazing building accomplishments ever. It is open to the public every day. As you stroll up the road prompting the pyramids, you will be approached by touts letting you know that the pyramids are to the right. That is the place they have their stallions, donkeys and camels. They will attempt to bait you in that bearing so you need to bring a ride with them to get to the pyramids. Simply disregard them and walk straight to the end of the street and make the left at the highest point of the slope. You will see tourist bus coaches and individuals and the pyramids all in plain view once you get up the slope.
But if you prefer to take a camel or horse ride offered by the Bedouins verify you talk about the amount and how far and long the pyramid tour will take. Likewise, ask and let them define the quantity of individuals and that the sum paid must cover the ride for everyone. It is very normal for the touts to abruptly stop the tour and try to convince you there was a mistaken assumption and approach you to pay twice for the same thing in light of the fact that you have paid for the two occupants of the ride. If such incidence happens, hand him the agreed amount and simply walk away. They will say what they want, however; they will not make a big scene out of it in fear of the tourist cops who patrols the area, more or less attempt to follow you around.
Entering the pyramids is an ideal encounter, however it is not important to enter Khufu as it is the most lavish one. You can either enter one of the more modest pyramids to get the experience or do so at Dahshur in case you're taking an excursion out there. They're all very much alike.
Pyramid of Kefre (2nd Pyramid)
Of the three pyramids, this is the only one open to the public. If you are not claustrophobic, do not miss the experience of seeing what is inside the Pyramid of Kefre. The tunnel entrance is very narrow and low and is the only one with both inbound and outbound pathways. It's very tiring and you have to walk uphill and downhill a slope that lies close to several tens of meters, but eventually the efforts are rewarded by what you will see and feel inside the pyramid.
Do not expect to find treasures or real rooms because almost all of the pyramids consists of a tunnel, dust, and stone walls. You have to appreciate its construction and imagine what it was like 5000 years ago. Inside you cannot take photos, you just have to take pictures with the eyes and store them in your memory. The room is bare just like all of the three pyramids, but inside you can find a big inscription or much more like an evidence of discovery and written by the late explorer Italian Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It is advisable to visit the pyramids in the winter months and not in the summer season (August).
Pyramid of Menkaure (3rd Pyramid)
The Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus in Greek) is the last extraordinary pyramid built on the Giza Plateau. It is more diminutive than the other two. During the 12th century, a Cairo Sultan attempted to destroy this pyramid, but abandoned his mission after eight months. The scar on the north face stays as a memory of this destructive effort.
The ticket includes a visit to the monuments of the plain, it is well guarded by the National Army and no one is allowed to enter this ancient pyramid because it is not safe due to the cracks and vertical fissures on the walls.
Despite its sheer size amidst the two other huge structures, this pyramid looks refined and much attention was paid to the details and materials used in its construction. Bigger is not necessarily more beautiful, so take a moment to look carefully at this attraction even from the outside.
The Dahshur Pyramid is virtually unknown to the general public so you will not find hardly anyone around. The only problem is you need to seek permission to enter because it is a well guarded military zone, but if you ask or go with your tour operator they certainly have this kind of permits that are needed to secure before being granted an entrance pass to tour the ancient pyramid. Dahshur is a magnificent site, untouched, but most of all there is no one (not even the persistent street vendors!) and it is nestled in a beautiful desert.
If you want to see and enjoy a piece of solitude in the city, you absolutely have to go to the Pyramid of Dahshur, which is located in a town on the outskirts of Cairo where there are two pyramids that are still in excellent condition.
They are not as famous as the three Pyramids of Giza, and this is precisely their point of strength, but they are worth a visit when in Cairo. The path leading to the tunnel inside the pyramid is too long and quite difficult, especially the walk under the wooden scaffoldings along the ruined part of the pyramid. There is little oxygen, and if you are a bit claustrophobic do not even think of going inside or buying the ticket. However, even from outside these pyramids immersed in the desert is very attractive.
Saqqara (Sakkara) Pyramids
The Saqqara or Sakkara Pyramids is a religious complex that is situated about 30km from Cairo. Surrounded by walls, it is most famous for the Step Pyramid of King Djoser (pronounced Zoser), the first Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty. It is said that it was built by an architect named Imhotep and also called a magician. It actually marked the beginning of the pyramids. The pyramids are kept closed and cannot be visited.
Inside the complex you can also find the Serapeum, a series of long dark corridors that guarded 25 huge granite sarcophagi for the mummies of sacred bulls. Saqqara is also home to a large number of mastaba tombs, the funerary area that has been covered by sand for nearly two millennia, until 1924, the year of its discovery, many tombs have been found preserved intact in both the external structures and its content. The complex is well worth exploring in depth, even if its borders are lined by barbed wires and soldiers.
The Al-Azhar Park is highly recommended, especially towards the evening because the view is spectacular. The first thing that strikes you as you enter the park is that despite being on a busy thoroughfare it is completely isolated from traffic noise. There are several dining options for all budgets. There is also a playground area for children.
You can see the Citadel and mosques of Cairo and relax in a family-friendly environment where there are children, restaurants, benches, flower garden, well-kept palm trees, and fountain. The best thing about this park is it stays open till late at night and there are often performances, especially if you go on the weekend. Avoid visiting it during the hottest hours of the day (10 -12 pm) and schedule a tour in the afternoon to enjoy the long stroll and the cold breeze at the promenade area.
Solar Boat Museum
Set within the monumental complex of Giza, the Solar Boat Museum contains the solar boat that was supposed to accompany the Pharaoh to the afterlife. The boat was discovered only a few decades ago in an excellent state of preservation. The peculiarity lies in the fact that the boat does not have nails and remained attached together through the ropes and interlocking systems. It is a great find and a cool place to stay, especially in the summer days. The boat is huge and can be visited only from outside and by walking all the way around from above and from below. Aside from the boat there are display cases with other rare finds and historic photographs. From the windows of the museum you can see the massive steps of the pyramid.
Mohammed Ali Mosque
The Mohamed Ali Mosque is located in the Citadel, and gained prominence as the most historic and beautiful mosque in Cairo. This popular mosque is open to tourists and modest clothes are strictly enforced for men and women. It is located within the Salah ad-Din Citadel. It was established since the 18th century and follows the Ottoman architectural design.
This majestic structure was built by Mohammad Ali Pasha, the revered founder of modern Egypt. The grandeur of the mosque complements the external and internal view of Cairo in an elevated position because the citadel is located on a ridge. It is truly exceptional and inside the mosque there are gigantic columns and a lovely flower garden outside.
Egyptian Antiquities Museum
The Egyptian Antiquities Museum is located in the busy and bustling downtown of Cairo and is instantly recognizable by its red old facade. The different collections within it retrace the history that covers three millennia of Egyptian art in the various rooms where the rare artifacts are exhibited ranked by period and dynasty. The entire collection is divided on two floors.
Currently, it is said that there are more than 500 thousand of objects where 3,500 came from the tomb of Tutankhamen. The museum also has its own specialized library that is focused in ancient Egyptian civilization. If you want to absorb and learn everything, start your visit early in the morning.
Old City (Old Cairo)
The area of the Old City is now popularly called as the Old Cairo and is enclosed within the walls of the Roman fortress of Babylon, the south portion of the town. Basically, it is the heart of the Coptic community in Egypt.
This site is a place of pilgrimage not only for the Egyptians but also for Christians around the world. Everywhere in this place breathes a strong atmosphere of peace and devotion. Among the most interesting buildings to visit in the area is the Church of San Giorgio, the beautiful Church of the Virgin Mary (also called the "Suspended" or the EI Moallaqa in Arabic), and the Coptic Museum.
Statue of Ramesses II
There are no words to describe the Statue of Ramses II at Memphis. You have to see it with your own eyes because seeing it in pictures is not enough to describe its enormous and imposing presence in the city. Being in a lying position, it really gives the impression of majesty and makes you feel small.
It will not be one of the most famous monuments in Egypt, but you cannot miss it, because the colossal dimensions of the statue does not allow more than just seeing it stand but to admire it vertically and lying on the ground. This contributes even more to give everyone an idea of the sculptural skill attained by the creative Egyptians from more than five hundred thousand years ago.
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