Friday, June 20, 2008

A quick tour around Cairo

Copyright © Egypt, Cradle of Civilization

Egypt kept its cultural peculiarity which historians divide into Pharaonic Era which lasted for 3000 years, Greek Era which also lasted for 3000 years, Roman Era which interacted with Coptic Era after Christianity entered Egypt, and finally the Islamic Conquest of Egypt and the Ottoman Rule till the Modern Era launched by Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt, for that what's to be seen is almost endless, and one could go on touring days and days, till they may say they've seen "most" and it may take a life time to actually see all of Egypt.

A good start to tour Egypt would probably be Cairo the capital, Cairo's main square is Tahrir, at the centre of Cairo and home to the Egyptian Museum, with downtown Cairo, the busy commercial district.

Not so far from down town, you may start by visiting the old fortress built by Salah El Din Al Ayoubi, founder of the Ayoubbid Dynasty (1171 to 1250). The Citadel encompasses the mosque of Mohamed Ali, the magnificent architectural masterpiece, the "Madrasa of Sultan" Hassan (Quranic School) and the Police and Military Museum. There is also the Well of Joseph, 90 meters deep, which supplies the water for the whole of the Citadel. Within a few minutes drive from the down town Cairo.

Another must visit site not so far from down town Cairo would be the Ibn Tulun Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world and among the finest in Cairo. It was built between 876 and 879 and is decorated in a plain yet sophisticated style that achieves a powerful, simplistic beauty. Standing 40 meters high, a splendid view of Cairo can be seen from the minaret.

Now that you had a reasonable introduction to what history has kept from the Islamic era, a visit to the Egyptian Museum, approximately a five minute drive from the down town Cairo, would serve as a quick sneak peak to the Pharonic era, this unique museum, with well over 100,000 exhibits in 107 rooms and galleries, contains some of the world's finest ancient Egyptian relics. The golden sarcophagus and treasure of Tutankhamen has the power to hold visitors in quiet contemplation for hours. One of the favorite rooms contains a large collection of mummies.

Just before ending your quick tour around Cairo, it would compliment your day to have a typical Egyptian meal, and since one wouldn't want to try foods that are dramatically foreign to their stomach, then I would recommend koshary, it's a meatless dish, layers of common grains, such as rice, red lentils, chick peas and pasta with a tomato, garlic sauce and a spicy chili sauce, all topped with fried onions.

Koshary is a traditional Egyptian meal, It is sold from carts by street vendors, in restaurants or even made at home and each is considered a different taste experience, another pro about koshary it's that it's suitable for vegetarians too.

After such a meal, an iced glass of the Hibiscus drink, the infusion made from the sepals of the Hibiscus flower, a herbal drink consumed both hot and cold by Egyptians and other African nations, in Egypt they call it "Karkadeh" and considered one of the traditional drinks, this is just about it for the day, if still some energy is left. A walk by the Nile will be spectacular to cool off.

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