Old Cairo: Explore the Timeless Beauty of Historic Cairo

Old Cairo, the ancient nucleus from which modern Cairo has evolved, is home to some of the most remarkable historical landmarks in the city. Established around 2000 years ago, the first settlements in Old Cairo marked the beginning of an ancient canal linking the Nile River to the Red Sea. Though the Nile’s waters have receded over the centuries, Old Cairo remains a vital repository of history and culture, featuring sites from the Greco-Roman period and significant Coptic Christian landmarks. The Babylon Fortress once marked the boundary between Upper and Lower Egypt.

Must-See Attractions in Old Cairo

  1. Al-Muizz Al-Deen Allah Street
    • Al-Muizz Street offers a unique blend of Islamic history and modern architecture. Visitors can explore historic landmarks alongside contemporary buildings. This street is ideal for those wishing to delve into the rich history and culture of Islamic Cairo.
  2. Salah El-Din Citadel
    • Salah El-Din constructed the Citadel in 1183 AD, showcasing his strategic and military genius. Rising from the ranks of a soldier to the ruler of Egypt and Syria, he overthrew the Fatimids. The Citadel, perched on rocky hills, served as Egypt’s seat of government for 700 years. In the 1870s, Khedive Ismail moved the capital to Abdeen Palace. Over the centuries, various rulers expanded the Citadel, enhancing its defensive and administrative capabilities.
  3. The Coptic Museum
    • Located in Coptic Cairo, the Coptic Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Coptic Christian artifacts. This area is dotted with historic Christian churches and sites that date back to the transitional period between the decline of Pharaonic religion and the rise of Islam. The museum offers a comprehensive exhibition of artifacts and artwork that narrate the rich history of Christianity in Egypt.
  4. Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque
    • General Amr Ibn Al-Aas, who introduced Islam to Egypt, founded the mosque in the city of Fustat, north of the Babylon Fortress. Although the mosque has been renovated numerous times, it remains a significant landmark. It symbolizes the advent of Islam in Egypt and serves as a focal point for Islamic heritage.

More Hidden Gems in Old Cairo

  1. Ben Ezra Synagogue
    • Initially a Coptic church, the Ben Ezra Synagogue is one of Cairo’s oldest Jewish temples. It is renowned for the Cairo Geniza’s discovery, a vast collection of Jewish manuscript fragments that provide invaluable insights into medieval Egypt’s Jewish community’s life.
  2. Hanging Church (Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church)
    • The Hanging Church, known for its unique architecture and suspended nave, is one of Egypt’s oldest churches. It has been pivotal for the Coptic Christian community for centuries. Built above a gatehouse of the Babylon Fortress, the church appears to hang in mid-air.
  3. Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)
    • This church is traditionally believed to be built on the spot where the Holy Family rested during their flight into Egypt. It is one of Cairo’s oldest Coptic churches and is a place of pilgrimage for many believers.
  4. Gayer-Anderson Museum
    • Next to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the Gayer-Anderson Museum is housed in two adjoining 17th-century houses. The museum showcases an eclectic collection of furniture, carpets, and other artifacts from different eras, reflecting Egypt’s diverse cultural heritage.

Exploring Old Cairo offers a captivating journey through Egypt’s history, from ancient civilizations and religious transformations to modern adaptations. Walking down Al-Muizz Street, marveling at the Citadel’s fortifications, and delving into the rich collections of the Coptic Museum and Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque, Old Cairo provides an immersive experience into Egypt’s storied past.