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 cairo map eng

 Many argue that if you don't visit Cairo, you don't know what is east. I totally agree with this opinion. How would I now describe the Egyptian capital in one sentence? A place with plenty of history, pyramids, camels, impressive mosques, historic markets and an endless horn sound amid the endless traffic.

A few words about the city

 Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city of the Arab world and Africa. It is located near the Nile Delta and was founded in 969 AD! More specifically, it was created in the 10th century by the Fatimid general Jawhar, who recommended the first settlement near the Roman-Byzantine fortress of Babylonia. Under the rule of the Fatimids and Mamluks (13th-16th centuries) it experienced a notable heyday, while its conquest by the Turks in 1517 marked the beginning of its decline. Of course, in the area of the modern city, there are ruins of older capitals, as can be seen in parts of Old Cairo, which testifies that the city was formerly inhabited. It houses about 6.76 million inhabitants within the city and an additional 10 million inhabitants in its periphery, thus ranking it among the most massive urban areas in the world (it is in sixth place). It has the nickname "the city of a thousand minarets" due to the dominance of Islamic architecture, and has long been the center of the political and cultural life of the region. Finally, its climate is mild and dry, and it is considered a significant cultural center with libraries museums and undoubtedly remarkable monuments. Therefore everyone can clearly realize that a tour of the dusty and bustling capital of Egypt, it's not just pyramids. So I will try to introduce Cairo to you through my own eyes and share with you what I think a person who visits it for the first time should see.

Giza Plateau

 Let's not hide behind our finger, one of the main reasons to visit Egypt and more specifically Cairo is to see the pyramids up close. On the outskirts of the Egyptian capital is the Giza Plateau, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. This particular spot was the Necropolis of the Pharaohs and the pyramids, of course, their tombs. In fact, they are the only surviving of the Seven Wonders of antiquity, while the way of their construction remains a mystery to this day. The largest of these, the Pyramid of Cheops with a height of about 147 meters is also the oldest. It dates to around 2560 BC and for its construction it took about 20 years, several thousand workers (not slaves as mistakenly believed) and intended for a funerary monument of the Fourth Dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs. The two smaller pyramids are of Hephrenus (son of Cheops) and Micerinus (grandson of Cheops), while the three even smaller ones were built for the Queens.

 A few kilometers further south, you will discover the ancientest statue in the world, The Great Sphinx of Giza. This is a huge limestone monument, which depicts a sphinx, that is, a mythological creature with a lion's body and a man's head! It was constructed around 2500 BC from Hephrenus as the guardian of the pyramids and its dimensions are awe-inspiring. Indicatively, it has a height of 22.2 meters, a width of 6 meters and a length of 73.5 meters! The theories surrounding the Sphinx are many, with the most popular one claiming that it depicts Pharaoh Cheops! The entrance to the Giza plain costs 200 Egyptian pounds (ie about 11.5e), while if you wish to enter the Great Pyramid you will have to pay another 400 (ie about 22.5e).

giza plateau10

 Finally, in the wider area of Giza, there is, furthermore, the Egypt Papyrus Museum. Without paying anything at all, you will learn everything about the process of producing papyrus, while you can also get your own authentic papyrus. The prices there are somewhat more pinched, but they will also give you a certificate of authenticity, while they will also write your name in hieroglyphs!


 And when you finish with the Giza Plateau, I would suggest you continue with another necropolis that of Saqqara. Start with Memphis, the first vapital of Egypt founded by King Menes during the Old Kingdom. At the archaeological site of Memphis, you will admire the enormous statue of Ramses II, which was found in the Nile in 1820 by Giovanni Battista Cavilia, the Alabaster Sphinx, as well as various other finds excavated in the wider area. The entrance costs 80 Egyptian pounds (that is, about 4.5e).


 Then ascend to Saqqara, starting from the pyramid of Pharaoh Joser. This is the most ancient pyramid of all, which was built in the 3rd dynasty and is estimated to be more than 4700 years old! Continue with the Pyramid of Teti, which though very small possesses rare frescoes of beauty, and close the tour with the Tomb of Mastaba, a powerful official of the Sixth Dynasty. This particular tomb is one of the most brilliantly decorated tombs of the Old Kingdom, having over thirty rooms! And here the entrance costs 80 Egyptian pounds (that is, about 4.5e).


Tahrir Square

 And since we're done with the outskirts and the pyramids, it's time to move into the city center! The ideal starting point is, of course, Tahrir Square. The freedom square is the ground zero of Cairo and the place where the modern history of the whole of Egypt was written! The Arab Spring protests in 2011 took place at this point, which led to the deposing of then President Hosni Mubarak! The Egyptian government in 2019 initiated the implementation of a large redevelopment plan of the Square, which is now extremely impressive and welcoming. On one side of the square stands the statue of Omar Makram, while on the other side is the Egyptian Museum (which I will refer to immediately below), the headquarters of the National Democratic Party (NDP), the Mogamma building (which houses various administrative services) and various luxury hotels. Finally, in the center of the square there, is a huge Egyptian flag waving proudly in the sky!

tahrir square

The museums

 In Cairo you will find many museums and art spaces with some of the most fascinating collections of antiquities in the world. The most popular of them is, of course, the Egyptian Museum. This museum is located in Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo, has been operating since 1902 and is considered one of the richest in terms of exhibits in the world! On its two floors there are more than 120,000 exhibits, among which you will find extensive collections of papyri, jewelry, coins, weapons, vases, statues and personal items of the Pharaohs found in the funerary excavations. The most important excavation in world history was the Tomb of King Tutankhamun and from these findings stands out the golden mask of 11 kg, a trademark of the museum. Photos are prohibited in this room. However, in a short time this museum will become a thing of the past, since if everything goes smoothly within 2022 the exhibits will be transferred to the brand new Grand Egyptian Museum. The entrance costs 75 Egyptian pounds (that is, about 4.5e).

hegyptian museum3

 You will notice that I did not mention mummies at all. On April 3, 2021, a spectacular event called the Pharaohs Golden Parade took place, during which twenty-two mummies belonging to Kings and Queens of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt were transferred from the Egyptian Museum to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. As you can understand, we are talking about a brand new museum where on the lower floor are exhibited the twenty-two mummies and on the upper floor some objects that present the entire history of Egypt from its foundation until today. Unfortunately, in the room with the mummies, photos are forbidden, and the guards are very strict! The entrance costs 200 Egyptian pounds (ie about 11.5e).

museum egyptian civilization2

 Ultimately, it is worth taking a walk through the Museum of Islamic Art. This recently renovated museum is considered one of the largest in the world and features an excellent collection of rare wood carvings and plaster objects, as well as objects made of metal, ceramic, glass, crystal and fabrics of various periods from all over the Islamic world. Admission costs 50 Egyptian pounds (ie about 3e).

museum islamic art2

Saladin Citadel

 At the eastern end of the city stands the Citadel of Saladin, an extensive fortification project created to protect the city from the Crusaders! It was named after Governor Agubid Saladin, who was in power during its construction period (1176-1183 AD) and boasts the best view of the town. In fact, when the atmosphere is clear, one can even see the pyramids of Giza! The Acropolis of Saladin is best known for its three mosques, where you will admire the imposing Islamic architecture at its best. The first and largest is the Mosque of Muhammed Ali, which is a replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. In fact, Muhammad Ali is buried inside this mosque. The other two mosques are the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque and the Sulayman Pasha Mosque, while within the walls are towers, gardens, the Police Museum and the National War Museum. Admission costs 180 Egyptian pounds (ie about 10e).

saladin citadel

The Mosques

 As a self-respecting Muslim country, Egypt has many and impressive mosques worth visiting. In addition to those in the Citadel of Saladin, I think three more deserve special attention! The Mosque of Amr ibn Al-as was the first mosque to be built in Egypt and all Africa, while in the twentieth century it was the fourth largest mosque in the Islamic world. The Al-Azhar Mosque is also one of the first mosques in the city and was built in 970 AD, while today it is an independent university teaching religious studies, as well as medicine and other sciences. Finally, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun is the largest mosque in Cairo in terms of area and the oldest surviving in its complete original form. In all three temples admission is free. But since they are sacred places, decorous clothing, covering the arms and legs, is required. So you have to remove your shoes before entering, and women are given cloaks to wear over their clothes to cover their bodies.

mosque amr ibnalas

Coptic Cairo

 It is not possible to be Greek and not take a walk through Coptic Cairo. This particular point was the stronghold of Christianity in Egypt both before and during the Islamic era, and is considered the place where the Holy Family stayed when they visited Egypt. In fact, the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Abu Serga) was built on the exact spot where they were hiding during the raid of Herod. Plus, there you will find the extremely impressive Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, which was built in the 10th century AD and in its courtyard the Greek flag is waving! Right next door, there is another church that you should not miss, the Hanging Church. This church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is special, as it has no foundation! It is erected on the ruins of the fortress of Babylon and essentially hangs over a passage! The peculiarities, however, do not stop here, since the facade of the church, which dates back to the 19th century, strongly resembles a mosque. Finally, in the area there are three other Coptic churches, the oldest synagogue in the city, the Coptic Museum, the Greek cemeteries and many other historic sites.

vcoptic cairo7


 Of course, from this article could not be missing the main reason for the existence of this city, the Nile. With a length exceeding 6,650 km, the Nile is the longest river on the planet and flows through nine different countries making their soils fertile in a relatively arid region. In fact, it is perfectly connected with the prosperity and prosperity of Egyptian civilization, while it is no coincidence that most important cities of the country are located along it! One of the most ideal spots to see Nile in the Egyptian capital is the Lion Bridge (Qasr El Nil Bridge). It is a historic construction dating back to 1931, which connects Tahrir Square in the city centre with the modern Cairo and the Opera House complex to the southern tip of Gezira Island. Its name is due to the four famous bronze statues of lions, which are the works of the French sculptor Henri Alfred Jacquemart at the end of the 19th century. I would also suggest choosing a cruise in the waters of the Nile, where there is usually a buffet and pageants (singers, belly dancers, dervishes, etc.) or take a felucca and explore it from closer.


Cairo Tower

 The Cairo Tower with a height of 187 meters is the tallest building in the city. It is located in the area of Zamalek on the island of Gezira and opened its gates in 1961, while the last renovation that gives it its current form was completed only in 2011! It was designed by architect Naum Sebib and symbolizes the Flower of the Pharaohs, the Lotus. At its top, a rotating platform includes a restaurant and gives panoramic views of the pyramids, the Nile and the whole city, and each spin takes 70 minutes. The entrance to the Cairo Tower, which includes only ascent with the elevator to the top to see the view, costs 150 Egyptian pounds (about 8.5e). Of course, I would suggest you prefer the 250 pounds package, which will save you from waiting in line and will give you the opportunity to choose whatever you want from the restaurant!


Khan el-Khalili

 Last but not least, I left the historic and famous market of Khan el-Khalili. It is the largest and oldest bazaar (souk) of Cairo, which has existed in the area since the Mamluk era (1382 AD) and is protected by UNESCO. In the approximately 900 shops of the market you will find literally everything from souvenirs, jewelry, clothes, carpets, metal and glass containers to spices, herbs and perfumes. In addition to shops, however, there are scattered in the market and many cafes, restaurants and street vendors. Coffee shops are generally small and quite traditional; they serve Arabic coffee and usually offer hookahs. One of the oldest and most famous coffee shops is El Fishawi's, founded in 1773 and frequented by enfant gâté of the time. However, most of what is sold in the bazaar comes from China, while their prices are deliberately raised, as peddlers are waiting for the negotiation! Therefore do not hesitate to negotiate the price, starting from half of what they tell you or even below if you dare!

khan el khalili

How to go

 At the moment Thessaloniki is not directly connected by air to Cairo, so to reach the city you need to make at least one stop. The most flexible option comes from Aegean, which with proper planning one can find tickets starting from 277 € round trip, with stopover in Athens! While with the same stopover, there is a flight of Egyptair with 245e, while finally you can consider the solution of Turkish Airlines, with a stopover in Istanbul, which starts from 235e, but has a long wait between the two flights.

Where to stay

 Cairo is a chaotic city, which stretches for many kilometers. My suggestion is to stay as centrally as possible, to avoid unnecessary travel but also for more safety. The proposals I have to make are two and relate to different prices and benefits. The first is the City Palace Hotel, right next to Tahrir Square, which is one of the most central and cheapest in the city. Of course, the quality of service is not so high, but if you want it just for a sleep, it's ideal. The second proposal is the Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah, a five-star hotel overlooking the Nile, offering everything one might need on such a trip!

How to move

 Cairo has several modes of transportation for residents and tourists, as there is metro, buses and mini buses. The metro is the fastest way to get around the city and has three lines that cover much of it. Of course, in peak hours, it's a mess, so you should be prepared for that. Moreover, the Cairo metro apart from the mixed wagons also has wagons only for women (!), which offers extra security, while the ticket is very cheap as it costs from 5-10 pounds (30-60 minutes), depending on the stops you will get off! Another way to get around the city is by buses and minibuses, which are everywhere and literally stop in the middle of the road to pick up and drop off people. Buses are mostly used by locals, so I would not highly recommend them. Finally, for greater safety I would suggest more private transport such as taxis, prefer the white ones and negotiate in advance the price, the uber or the tuk tuks, which easily escape from the unthinkable traffic!

What to eat

 Although Egyptian cuisine is not particularly prominent compared to other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, the flavors one can taste along the Nile are equally delicious! It is enough to consider that the culinary traditions of Egypt have their roots in the era of the Pharaohs, about 5, 000 years ago, and have been influenced by all the conquerors who passed through there! One of the things that you must try before leaving the country is molochia, a green soup that gets that characteristic green color from the chopped leaves of Malachi, cooked with seafood or meat broth! Very interesting is also fata, which is made with rice, beef, eggs and fried bread, as well as sasouka, which is a delicious dish, with egg, tomato and garlic, usually eaten for breakfast or dinner and served in hot utensils, which are cooking at that time. Do not forget to try the national dish of Egypt, Kosari, which is vegan and basically has everything in it, Kebda, which is beef or chicken liver, which you meet in various variations, Mahsi, which is a dish of vegetables stuffed with minced beef and rice, the well-known to all of us falafel, baba ghanoush which looks like eggplant salad, of course traditional sweets like kunefe, tea infusions and natural juices. The best koshary will be eaten at Koshary Abou Tarek, for traditional tastes I recommend Resturant & Café Al Khan, while quality and "harmless" food will be tasted at the Sofitel hotel restaurant, Kebabgy Oriental. Finally, for delicious kunefe and other traditional sweets, I recommend visiting Abdel Rehim Koueider and Halawani Al Abd.

Useful information

egypt info

In Cairo we travel with a passport with a validity of at least 6 months. Upon entering the country, you will need to obtain a visa, which costs 25 euros or 25 dollars, and fill out the immigration form so that it will be considered at passport control.

In Cairo the language used is, of course, Arabic and more specifically an Egyptian dialect. The youngest know English, while everyone is willing to help if they know.

The currency of the country is the Egyptian pound (EGP), and its exchange rate at the moment is 1€ = 18.16 pounds. Many shops in the bazaars accept dollars and euros.

I suggest you convert your money to the airport (!), yes well read, as curiously they keep the smallest commission. Otherwise choose a bank in the city and not exchange markets!

For your trip to and from Cairo airport I suggest you choose a taxi, with which you will have agreed before the price. Beyond that, there is also a public bus, stopping outside the Ramses Hilton Hotel.

The Greek Embassy in Cairo is located at 18 Aisha El Taymouria Garden City street and its phones are + 202 27955915, 27950443.

The best time to go to Cairo is either autumn or spring, when temperatures move to normal levels.


Recommended excursions → Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan

cairo lang eng



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Mouzakidis Pantelis

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I am Pantelis or as the title of the blog testifies "O Thessalonikios". If you also have a passion for travel, then you are in the right place. My goal is to be able to see the 237 countries of our planet and my purpose to give you information that I gained from my travels. 

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