Visiting Egypt was one of the very first places I went to and was still learning the tricks and hacks of travel. As this was new for us all we had Ahmed as our guide and he was the best. He did suggest that we stay a couple more days in Cairo before moving on to another city which was extremely wise. We got to experience parts of Cairo that I found quite intriguing. Here are the to 5 things that I recommend for you to add to you Cairo visit besides the amazing Great Pyramids:-
It is Egypt’s largest museum with the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities and should not be missed. The original collection was established in the late 19th century under Auguste Mariette and housed in Boulaq. The objects were moved in 1891 to the palace of Ismail Pasha in Giza before being transferred in 1902 to the current building at Tahrir Square, which is the first purpose-built museum edifice in the world. Photography is forbidden within the collectibles and galleries. My favourite section was Tutankhamon’s treasures.
Felucca Ride – It is a relaxed affair best down during later hours of the afternoon in time to catch the beautiful sunset. The feluccas are traditional wooden sailboats traditionally used as a means of transport but has taken up more tourists value where most tours would include it in their trips. Being in Egypt and not experiencing the Nile would be cheating 🙂 Egyptians have always respected and loved their Nile. They say, “The Nile is our life, our water, our electricity, it fertilizes our land. Without the Nile, there would be no Egypt.
Nile Dinner Cruise
The ideal cruise in Egypt would be the 2-3 days Aswan and Luxor cruises but as we had no plans to head south to Luxor we opted for an impromptu plan to dine aboard the Nile Cruise in Cairo. The Nile Dinner cruise starts at 6.30 pm where you cruise for about 2-3 hours during dinner and entertainment which included a colorful belly dancing show with a folklore band, featuring the unforgettable tannoura spin, in keeping with Egypt’s whirling dervishes traditions.
Churches, Synagogues and Mosques
I have always thought of only the Islam religion in Egypt due to the Middle East influence, spending a day exploring churches and synagogues led me to see how wrong this is. The 1st stop was the 2 oldest Coptic churches. It’s quite different from other orthodox Christian faiths and is fascinating in the way it intermingles Arabic and Christian influences. We visited the the Church of St Sergius and the Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church (more commonly known as the Hanging Church). It is called the hanging church because it is built on top of two columns from an old Roman fortress, with its nave is suspended over a passageway.
We then proceeded to Ben Ezra Synagogue – Egypt’s oldest surviving synagogue. The claim the site where baby Moses was found is where the synagogue is now located. The synagogue is just a museum now and is no longer used as there are very few Jews left in Egypt.
Mosque of Amr Ibn al-As was our last stop, it is Cairo’s first mosque and is in fact the oldest mosque in Africa. Constructed in 642 AD, the mosque was built on the site where General Amr Ibn al-As (commander of the Arab army that conquered Egypt in the 7th century) had his tent. With its rich decorations and vast domes, the mosque was awe-inspiring.
This is one of the places that I say you can do it or leave it, it’s pretty much a living museum where people dress in costumes and try to recreate an ancient Egyptian village. We did it on our last day but I think it would be better as an Egypt introduction. The one thing I liked was the replica of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Coming next week will be where my heart belongs – right next to the sea – Alexandria