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Visit Cairo, Egypt (UNESCO site)

Cairo, Egypt’s capitol and the largest city in Africa is chaotic, crowded, dusty and at the same time, beautiful. 16 million inhabitants call Cairo home and those numbers insure that Cairo can never be considered dull. The city has a storied past and an eclectic combination of cultures in that a number of foreign interlopers have overseen the government, including Arabs, Romans, Greeks, Turks, Brits and the French throughout history. Cairo is most often considered by those wishing to visit the Pyramids and Sphinx of Egypt but the city also provides access to wonderful museums (including the permanent home of King Tutankhamon's treasures), meaningful exposure to Islamic culture and incomparable shopping. Most tourists will make a stop or two at the open air market, Khan Ali-Kalili, virtually unchanged since the 1300’s and operated in the traditional Arabic style with vendors expecting shoppers to haggle over prices. The Egyptian Museum calls to visitors to examine the artifacts of King Tut along with the over 120,000 pieces of Egypt’s past serving as testament to the rich history of this important country. The oldest part of the city, Coptic Cairo (Masir al-Qadima), is believed to be the original site of the Roman city of Babylon and continuously occupied for over 2,000 years. Coptic Cairo is the center of the Christian community that has a rich history all its own. Organized tours of Coptic Cairo are readily available or the cobblestone streets may be traversed by foot while you make up your own route aided by the readily available maps. Islamic Cairo, where most of the mosques and vestiges of Islam are located has its own identity rooted in medieval times and the site of much visited buildings such as The Citadel, The Mosque of Mohammed Ali (not the boxer), the Ibn Tulun (one of the world’s largest mosques) and Al-Azhar, a mosque that houses what many consider the oldest university in the world. The City of the Dead (Qarafa) is another compelling part of Cairo that is worthy of your attention; thought of as a “living cemetery with several million people living and working in and among the ancient tombs. No trip to Cairo is complete without touring what is believed to be Egypt’s most important attraction and a component of the Seven Wonders of the World: The Great Pyramid of Giza. In reality, there are three separate main pyramids, each built as the final resting place of a different King of Egypt. Guarding the access to the pyramids is the Sphinx (Abu Al-Hol in Arabic). This enormous structure presenting a cat-like sentinel was carved from a single piece of stone and strikes awe into those lucky enough to see the incredible sculpture. Most Egyptian scholars believe the construction was completed nearly 5,000 years ago. Moving around the grounds of the Sphinx and the Pyramids may be accomplished on foot, by horse and buggy or for an authentic experience you can ride a camel. Buses and taxis are the primary forms of transportation from Cairo to Giza. There are a number of other collections of pyramids close by that are also worthy of your consideration. Visitors to Cairo wanting a break from the hustle and bustle might hop aboard a Falucca (sail boat) for a relaxing cruise on the Nile. Visiting the revolving restaurant high up in the Cairo Tower on Gazera Island is another way to take a break from the non-stop cultural experiences. A trip to Cairo, Egypt belongs on any dreamer’s list that desires to visit the home of an ancient civilization and its awe inspiring relics. Put that trip to Cairo on your list today and begin the planning and eager anticipation of fulfilling that dream.
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