Visit Cairo

Mena House (3)

Pyramids from Mena House Hotel

Cairo – largest city in Africa, in the entire Arab world in fact, and entry to Egypt ancient and modern – Cairo lives comfortably poised between past glories and 21st Century sensibilities.  Once known as the “Mother of the World,” Cairo has been surpassing visitors’ expectations since the 14th Century and has only gotten better and better at it.

To see and do all the  highlights would exhaust a well-packed two weeks.  Most excursions, and ours are  no exception, allocate 3 – 4 days.  In that time you can

The Nile

The Nile

comfortably take in the  premier destinations, capture the city’s unique flavor and leave a lot for the  return visit you’re going to want to make.  All of our tours offer a free day  here so, with the services of your knowledgeable driver/guide, you’ll be able to  pursue some unscheduled special interest visits.  We always recommend the  purchase of a good guide book (“Insight Guides” is an excellent choice with 48  pages devoted to Cairo alone) not only to explain what you’re seeing but to put  it all in historical and cultural perspective.

Marriott Cairo

Marriott Palace Grounds

With that said, let’s  talk specifics.  We schedule Cairo both at the beginning and end of our tours  because, like seeing New York City, it IS and ISN’T typically “Egyptian.”    Cairo is an Islamic city, founded not far from the most massive Antiquity  structures, the Pyramids in nearby Giza.  The Giza Plateau and the incredible  Egyptian Museum are the two top “must see” sites.  Incidentally, there are plans  to build a new, larger Egyptian Museum – this comes as wonderful news as the  existing 1902 structure has priceless objects literally stuffed into every nook  and cranny.  The 12th Century Citadel, begun by Salah-ad-Din (the “Saladin” of  Crusades’ fame) was the home of virtually all of Egypt’s rulers, seat of  government and powerful military fortress until the mid-19th Century.  Look out  over its ramparts and see all of Cairo at your feet and imagine how intoxicating  absolute power must have been.  Yet Cairo has always been diversified and  multi-cultural.  Coptic Cairo recaptures the ancient roots of one of the  earliest branches of Christianity, while the Ben Ezra Synagogue fostered the  Sephardic Rabbinical tradition.

Cairo bazaars or “souks”  are famous worldwide and none more so than the Khan al-Khalili.  A mecca for  tourists with every conceivable souvenir to be haggled over, it borders the  possibly more interesting native souks where modern Cairenes trade, eat and  gossip as they have for centuries.

As Egyptian cities go  Cairo is a youngster, dating only from its 641 CE founding as the conquering  Arabs’ capital.  Multi-millennia older, yet now almost swallowed by Cairo’s  western sprawl, is the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World.  The Pyramids  and Sphinx complex, Egypt’s #1 attraction, never fail to mesmerize and with so  much written about them through history we will only say that seeing them leaves  an indelible impression.  Just a short drive south are the remnants of Memphis,  Egypt’s first capital founded, legend has it, by Menes, first ruler of the First  Dynasty.  Its enormous necropolis, Saqqarah, contains tombs, pyramids, a  mausoleum for the holy Apis bulls and massive architecture, including the Step  Pyramid, the world’s first stone monument.

And through it all the  Nile’s constant presence reminds each visitor that without the mighty river,  nothing here would have ever come to exist.  The Nile, always believed to be  eternal, always in reality was life.  The many lives the river has seen you’ll  see in Cairo.

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