Mini guide to Cairo
Cairo, the 'Triumphant City', is the glorious capital of Egypt and the cradle
of an ancient civilization. It is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa,
and lies at the centre of all routes leading to and from three continents: Asia,
Africa and Europe.
Sprawling, calamitous, bustling, ancient and balmy, Cairo is home to 16 million
people and has long had a reputation as one of the world's greatest tourist
cities. It's hardly graceful or clean, but is nonetheless fascinating.
On the east bank of the Nile River stand the reminders of 2,000 years of Islamic,
Christian Coptic and Jewish culture, still flourishing to this day. On the west
bank lies the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis (Giza), the renowned capital
of the Old Kingdom and the site of the Pyramids - according to the Greeks, one
of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Indeed, a journey through Cairo is
a journey through time and a journey through the history of an immortal civilization.
Although the idea of walking around such a noisy, crowded city may not be attractive,
it can in fact be rewarding, as there are parts of Cairo that offer a full sensory
experience. Islamic Cairo, to the east of central Cairo, and Giza are especially
recommended for wandering around, with or without a guide.
Driving in Cairo is possible; however, there can be long delays in heavy traffic
and parking is difficult (look out for inexpensive valet parking in the city
centre). As a rough guide, the travel time from the city centre to the airport
is about an hour, and the journey to Giza is also about an hour.
Egypt occupies the extreme northeast corner of the continent of Africa and
a small area of southwest Asia. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean
Sea to the north, by Sudan to the south, by the Red Sea and Israel on the east,
and by Libya on the west. Cairo is situated in the Nile delta in the north of
the country, close to the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria.
Cairo has witnessed the rise and fall of the Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman,
French and British Empires, and has played a major role in three of the world's
great religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Yet, compared to the pyramids,
Cairo is a young city, founded long after the end of the Pharaonic dynasties
which built the pyramids and filled thousands of tombs with mummified bodies
and priceless treasures.
There is a good choice of transport for the visitor to Cairo and other parts
of Egypt. Cairo International Airport is the largest and most active in Egypt,
and in recent years has expanded into a first class facility. Cairo is also
accessible via the Nile River aboard ferries and cruise ships. Cruising on the
Nile is comfortable and popular with tourists.
Selection of hotels in this region:
InterContinental Semiramis Cairo
Sheraton Cairo Hotel Towers & Casino
El Gezirah Sheraton Hotel, Towers & Casino
Pyramids Park Inter-Continental Resort
Sheraton Heliopolis, Towers and Casino
Le Meridien Pyramids
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking