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Home :: Destinations :: Africa :: Egypt
Home :: Destinations :: Africa :: Egypt

As beacons of tourism since the dawn of history, both Egypt and its capital possess an enduring appeal that hardly needs explaining. An extant patch of desert in Giza to the southwest of Cairo offers up nothing less than the Seventh Wonder of the Ancient World in Khufu’s Great Pyramid, not to mention the iconic Sphinx.

Meanwhile, amongst the clutter of the Egyptian Museum’s jaw-dropping bygones lies the breathtaking tomb of Tutankhamun, the original boy-king of bling.

Yet while ancient splendor is the main draw for tourists, it’s a shame that many miss what modern Cairo has to offer. With some 10 million inhabitants, this is the Arab world’s largest city and the biggest in Africa. Baladi drinking dens, bustling markets and countless museums – all served by an impressive metro system – make engaging with the heaving metropolis a highly rewarding experience.

For an overview of the city, climb the eastern heights to the 12th-century citadel looming above the urban sprawl. Even before the days of Salah Al-Din, Cairo was a cornerstone of Islamic civilization. As such, the old Islamic quarter has been proclaimed a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Around 800 mosques and monuments populate the district, including the imposing Mosque of Al-Hakim built under the Fatamid dynasty. There’s also the more serene Mosque of Al-Azhar erected in the late 10th century, which doubles as one of the world’s oldest universities; it offers welcome sanctuary from the busy district.

Whenever you need a break from the cacophony of the city, it’s possible to sail away on a traditional felucca boat down the Nile. The river has been the lifeblood of Egyptian civilization for aeons. This and the breathtaking views as you glide past the city will remind you that Cairo is known as the ‘Mother of the World’ with good reason.