Cairo , located where the Nile Valley expands into a river delta, is the largest city in Africa with a population of over 19 million. Heat, dust and noise are constant companions of city life, and traffic often freezes in traffic jams. However, Cairo has a lot to offer tourists. The Egyptian Museum has an incomparable collection, Islamic architecture is immensely enjoyable, and street life is a true cultural experience.

City center

The modern center of Cairo is the focus of city life with shopping streets, cafes, banks and restaurants. A significant part of it was founded in 1865 by Khedive Ismail, who was inspired by the Parisian boulevards; many magnificent buildings were built by European architects.
Right in the center, by the Nile itself, there is a huge Liberation Square (Maydan at-Tahrir) with a magnificent Egyptian Museum and the old building of the Nile Hilton Hotel, a landmark for both Cairo residents and tourists, which will soon be renamed the Ritz Hotel ... On the other side of the square is the old American University, now relocated to the suburbs, the Arab League building and the Mogama government building, the center of the Egyptian bureaucracy. To the east of the square is Sharia Qasr an-Nil with Western-style shops and restaurants. The lively Maydan Ramesses square with a wonderful Victorian-style train station is nearby .


An excellent collection of 19th-20th century European painting that belonged to the Khalil spouses includes Monet, Picasso, Renoir and Gauguin. On the west bank of the Nile are the Cairo University and residential areas. The Cairo Zoo (daily 9.00-16.00) is surrounded by pleasant gardens.

On the island of Roda (Rawda) south of Gazira is the Manyal Palace (closed for restoration) , a museum with royal collections and a wonderful garden, and a nilometer (daily 10.00-17.00) , built in 861 to measure the level of floods of the Nile in order to taxation.

In a small palace on the island is the new Umm Kulthoum Museum (10.00-17.00) , dedicated to the most famous Egyptian singer; there is a small concert hall in the adjacent room.

Egyptian Museum of Antiquities

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, located on the north side of Tahrir Square, was built in 1902 as the Cairo Museum. Founded by French architect Auguste Mariette in an attempt to stop the export of artifacts to museums abroad, it now houses one of the world's major collections and some of the finest treasures of Ancient Egypt. The museum is a bit dilapidated; it is not organized in the best way, and it is often crowded there (although not in the morning) , but more than 120 thousand exhibits are exhibited there. A new, more spacious museum is being built near the pyramids of Giza.


The collection will deepen your understanding of Ancient Egypt and help you appreciate it. Spend at least 3 hours on a visit; a more complete tour lasts from 4 to 5 hours. Ideally, two visits should be made, before and after the trip to the Nile temples.

Some of the most valuable treasures are on the second floor, which displays items recovered by Howard Carter from Tut's tomb in 1922. The only undisturbed pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings captured the public imagination. At the time of his death, the pharaoh was only 19 years old, and there was little time left to prepare a larger tomb, but it was filled with treasures for use in the afterlife. In subsequent years, the entrance to the tomb was littered with debris from a neighboring tomb, which saved it from looting. Here you can see three sarcophagi surrounding the royal mummy. The inner one, made of pure gold, weighs 170 kg. There is also a burial mask of the pharaoh made of gold and semiprecious stones. These findings are awe-inspiring even 3,000 years later.


In the Hall of Mummies (additional ticket required) , also on the second floor, you can view the preserved remains of some of Egypt's most illustrious rulers. Dating from the 18th to 20th dynasties, these include Ramses IV, Seti I, and Thutmose III. Tutankhamun is not among them; the authorities decided that he should return to his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, where he still rests.

The halls on the ground floor follow the chronology of Ancient Egypt, starting with the magnificent halls of the Old Kingdom. Treasures mostly found in tombs include an almost life-size statue of King Djoser found near his step pyramid at Saqqara. Rooms 32 and 42 contain other masterpieces, especially the "living" statue of Ka-Aper, carved from a single piece of wood, and the calm, serene statues of married couples with children.

Tomb items are a rich source of knowledge about the daily life and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. Wooden figurines crafted as servants for the departed include guards, artisans, and oarsmen, along with boats, to serve the king in the afterlife. There are also images of poultry and livestock for the proper nutrition of the king after death.

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