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Cairo is Egypt’s capital city, and with over 16 million inhabitants, it ranks as one of the largest cities in Africa.  This city of contradictions will enthrall you with its ageless charm.  The ancient and the modern co-exist in surprising harmony, and the hospitality and friendliness of its people will set you at ease.  Historic Cairo includes the wonders of the pharoahs, as well as a religious heritage embodied in the numerous jewish, coptic and islamic monuments that abound.



  Coptic Cairo

Old Cairo is so named because it is the oldest part of Cairo, and in fact, predates what is now Cairo.  Some Egyptologists believe that there was a settlement here as far back as the 6th century BC.  Later, the Romans built a fortress here which we call Babylon.  Some of these Roman walls still exist.  Later, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as 20 churches built within an area of one square mile.  There are only five remaining, but these are certainly a must-see when visiting Cairo. In addition, after the fall of Jerusalem in about 70 AD, the area also saw an influx of the Jewish religion into the area, where the oldest synagogue (Ben Ezra) is also located.

The area within Old Cairo is known as Coptic Cairo, where you will find the Coptic Museumwhich encloses rare treasures from the Coptic Period. Just southwest is the Hanging Church (The Church of the Virgin Mary), built into the walls of the Water Gate of the Roman fortress.  It is possibly the oldest Christian church in Egypt, dating to around the 4th Century.  The Monastery and Church of St. George is not an old church, dating only from 1909, but there has been a church in Coptic Cairo dedicated to the Martyr since the 10th century. Turn left outside the door to St. George and the path leads to the Church of St. Sergius (Abu Serga), which legend has it is built atop one of the sites where the Holy Family rested on their flight from Herod.  Continuing on this path brings one first to the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is Egypt's oldest and dates back to the 9th Century.  Past that is St. Barbara church, named after the young girl who was martyred for trying to convert her father to Christianity

  Salah el Din Citadel

Old Cairo offers a multidude of examples of Islamic architecture, and monuments, including the beautiful and graceful Mohamed Ali Mosque and the ancient Citadel, a spectacular medieval fortress perched on a hill above the city. Originally built by Salah El-Din in 1176 to fortify the city against the Crusaders, the Citadel was modified and enlarged over the centuries by subsequent rulers and today is a complex of three mosques and four museums.  You will also be able to visit the elegant Sultan Hassan and Refaie mosques – both beautiful examples of Islamic architecture.

  Sultan Hassan Mosque


The Sultan Hassan Mosque was built for Sultan Hassan bin Mohammad bin Qala'oun in 1256 AD as a mosque and religious school for all Moslem sects.  It has been said by some that the  Sultan Hassan Mosque is the most outstanding Islamic monument in Egypt.   Sultan Hassan died several years prior to its completion.
It is of true Bahri Mameluke origin, built of stone, and while it is entirely different in design, it has a striking resemblance to the Ibn Tulun Mosque.

Ibn Tulun Mosque


In 879 Ahmed Ibn Tulun built the Ibn Tulun Mosque in the Sayyedah Zeinab district.  He was sent to govern Cairo by the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad.  The mosque has a  very strong Mesopotamian influence. It is the oldest and largest original mosque in Egypt.
It consists of an  external spiral staircase and a very unusual minaret similar to the famous Samarra Mosque in Mesopotamia.  The stone carvings on the interior walls are elegant and the designs of the roundels  are distinct and unusual. The  original Koranic inscriptions carved in sycamore are still present.  Prior to its restoration in 1918 is was used as a military hospital, a salt warehouse and a beggar's prison

  Gayer-Anderson House


The Gayer-Anderson House is next to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. It consists of two houses, one built in the 16th century and the other built in the 18th century. The house was named after a British army officer, Major John Gayer-Anderson who lived there between 1935 and 1942. When he left Egypt in 1942, he donated the house to the country as a museum. Each room is elaborately furnished thematically according to the British colonial fascination with orientalism. There is a Persian Room, a Chinese Room, a Turkish Room, a Harem, etc. There are excellent examples of carved wooden mushribiyya over the windows and upon the roof area depicting traditional Islamic wood working craftsmanship of the time. The House is open from 8:00 till 3:00 PM.

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