Cairo, starting point to a travel in history

Nearly every visit to Egypt starts in Cairo, a huge city of chaotic traffic, but with a kind population. Kids especially always wanted to greet us and talk to us. This was the begin of an unforgettable journey.

Cairo, starting point to a travel in history

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

The pyramids, of course, and the Cairo Museum, with all those crafts from many periods, the mummies and Tutankhamun's treasure!! Also the visit to Memphis, the first imperial city, and Saqqara, where we could see Egypt's most ancient pyramid. In just two days we saw so many great things from such a long time period of History! For more information and images, check my Travel Report: ${QuickSuggestions} Much is said about women traveling in Muslim countries. The female friend I was traveling with and I had a few problems regarding that - but to my surprise, most of the problems were not in the streets, but at the hotel - we seldom could have a meal without having attendants chatting to us. We Brazilians are normally very friendly, so maybe this was a bit misunderstood - so be gentle, but cool.${BestWay} I would recommend a guided tour like we took. It is not too expensive and you are more assisted, have an experienced guide orientating you to the different culture and telling you about points of interest. We didn't use any public transportation, but crossing streets in the busy downtown area with no traffic lights was a scary experience!

Cairo and vicinity

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

A few days after the murder of tourists in Egypt in 1997, we were some of the few tourists arriving in Egypt, so we had a very private tour in the company of our guide Mohamed and our driver Maghdi.

On the first day we went to the Egyptian Museum in the morning, and then to a papyrus shop. In the afternoon, to the great pyramids, and later to a perfume shop.

One the next day, we went to Memphis and Saqqara, then to a carpet factory. In the afternoon, we visit the Citadel, Mohamed Ali's mosque and the famous Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

Historical Tours of Cairo
8, Tarsana Sporting Club
Cairo, Egypt

Cairo Museum or Egyptian Museum

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

In two and a half hours we saw antiquities, the oldest being a slate palette from 3100 b.C. depicting Narmer, the unifier of the two lands - the Lower and the Upper Egypt. There were statues of pharaohs in granite, limestone and other materials. There were also vases, jewels, murals, mummified animals, furniture and so many other items.

One of the highlights of the museum is Tutankhamun's treasures, recovered from his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Like its sarcophagus, Tut's funerary mask is decorated with gold, lapis lazuli, quartz and obsidian.

Another highlight is the Royal Mummies room, which requires a separate ticket to be visited. Inside you can see 15 mummies of kings and queens, including those of Ramses II, his father Seti I and his son Merneptah.

Egyptian Museum
Tahrir Square
Cairo, Egypt
+20 (2) 579 6974

Khan el-Khalili souks

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

Our guide Mohamed took us to Khan el-Khalili bazaar and gave us one hour to look around and eventually buy something. We saw beautiful tainted glass flasks for perfumes and tried some essences, too. Many shops sell spice, papyrus, jewels (including pendants with cartouche - the oblong loop that contained a pharaoh's name in hieroglyphs) and all kind of souvenirs in alabaster, granite, various stones or even plastic. The only thing we bought that day, after the traditional (and highly recommended) bargain, were t-shirts embroidered with cartouche. At the end of our trip we returned to buy some souvenirs.

Khan el-Khalili, once known as the Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman period, is the market situated at one corner of a triangle of markets that go south to Bab Zuwayla and west to Azbakiyyah. The Khan is bordered on the south by al-Azhar Street and on the west by the Muski Market.

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

Cairo, Egypt, 11211

Mohamed Ali Mosque

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

This mosque is also known as the Alabster Mosque because of its alabaster walls and amazingly decorated green and golden domes. Mohamed Ali was Egypt's ruler during the first half of last century and built this mosque where he is buried.

From the courtyard, visitors may have a view across the city, theoretically to the pyramids in Giza, if visibility allows (not very chancy, due to the intense air pollution - we only saw the buildings down the hill). It is situated at the Citadel, a fortified area built in 1176 by Salah ad-Din to protect it against attacks by the Crusaders.

Citadel Complex
Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt
20 2 512 9619

The pyramids of Giza and the Sphynx

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

The famous pyramids of Giza - Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus- are the only remaining of the Seven Wonders of ancient world. The oldest and largest is that of the pharaoh Khufu, better known as Cheops (a Greek version for the original name). Built during the first half of the 26th century b.C., it was originally 140 m high, 230 m long at its base and weighed about 5 million tons. Next to it is the pyramid of Chephren (Khafre, originally), Cheops' son, from the second half of the 26th century B.C., slightly smaller than the first but resembling higher. The last and smaller of these pyramids is that of Mycerinus (originally Menkaure), Chephren's son. There are other small pyramids next to these three and they belonged to the pharaohs' families.

After some waiting on a queue, we started descending in Chephren through a long, narrow and dark passage until we reached a small chamber, then back to the tunnel, ahead and up to the main chamber, with the stone sarcophagus of the pharaoh. The chambers are surprisingly small, considering the pyramid is so huge.

Another must-do for tourists is a camel ride, on a hill overlooking the pyramids, thus a perfect spot for photographs.

It was almost sunset when we went to the exit of the site and saw the famous sphinx, a lion body with human face, believed to have been built by Chephren, who may have even been the model for its face. It was damaged by bullets shot by Napolean's army.

Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu)
Giza Pyramids Plateau
Cairo, Egypt
+20 2 383 8823

Memphis and Saqqara

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Adelaide on November 19, 2000

Memphis, the first imperial city, was founded by the first pharaoh Narmer (or Menes) around 3100 B.C. and was Egypt's capital for about one thousand years. Not much remains of its glorious past, the main attractions being a huge statue of Ramses II, 13 m high, now laid down and sheltered, and an alabaster sphinx presumably of Hatshepsut.

Saqqara, near Memphis, was the burial site of the royals and the nobles of that time. We entered Zoser's funerary complex through a hall that once contained statues of the animal-gods that represented each of the states of the kingdom. At the end we could see a wall decorated with snakes facing the entrance - the guardians and also an emblem of royalty. We saw the first pyramid, built for Zoser by his architect Imhotep in the 27th century B.C. and known as the "Step Pyramid".

24 kilometres south of Cairo
Cairo, Egypt
No phone available

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