For thousands of years, people from all over the Eastern Hemisphere have gathered in the Nile Valley. Today, you can explore the rich, cultural heritage all these people have left behind as well as an energetic, modern city with lots of amenities.
To appreciate this combination even more, stay in a hotel that reflects it as well, like the JW Marriott Hotel Cairo. Many Cairo hotels are quite old yet have been recently renovated. So, guests can experience both the ancient and the modern aspects of this city.
Pyramid of Djoser
Most Cairo visitors flock to the Great Pyramids, and this site should most certainly be on your list. But to people who truly appreciate Egyptian culture and history, the Pyramid of Djoser is even more meaningful. Pharaoh Djoser reigned during the Third Dynasty. The larger pyramids did not come around until hundreds of years later. His tomb is the first pyramid and also the earliest example of cut-stone construction on a large scale.
There are also many temples and substructures in the complex, giving visitors even more insight into the things that happened so long ago.
The Museum of Cairo was founded in 1835 and moved to its current location in 1902, making it one of the more recent additions to this ancient city. It holds over 120,000 artifacts, placing it among the largest museums in the Mediterranean basin. In addition to a large collection of papyrus fragments and ancient coins, the Museum houses a number of Pharaonic artifacts.
Items from the intact tombs of Psusennes I and Tutankhamun draw much of the attention, but there are also lots of other New Kingdom mummies, as well as other relics. There are also memorials to various Egyptologists, so that we may remember the people who spent their careers bringing ancient Egypt to life.
Martyr Square was a focal point for political protest long before it was the epicenter of Arab Spring protests in 2011. The 2013 protests against then-President Mohamed Morsi were even larger than that, drawing some thirty million people to the square and to the whole of downtown Cairo. A large statute of Omar Makram, who led resistance against Napoleon’s invasion, dominates Tahrir Square, along with a distinctive traffic circle.
Okay, so maybe it’s not the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pizza. But your trip to Cairo needs to include this well-known landmark that’s probably only second to the Great Pyramids. Since its completion in 1961, the Cairo Tower has been the tallest structure in North Africa and one of the tallest on the entire continent. The Tower recently had a multi-million dollar makeover for its fiftieth anniversary. Don’t miss the rotating restaurant and the observation deck.
Muhammad Ali Mosque
This striking alabaster mosque dates back to the Ottoman Empire days of the early nineteenth century. Four smaller domes surround a grand dome that’s twenty-one meters wide. The interior is artistically beautiful. It contains a very rare, and very large, brass clock that was a gift to Muhammad Ali from French King Louis Philippe.
Honorable mention goes to the Al-Azhar Mosque, which was built in 972, and the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus, where locals say the Holy Family sought refuge from King Herod’s slaughter of innocents.