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Cairo: one of the oldest Islamic cities

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Cairo is the capital of Egypt, and one of Africa’s largest metropolitan areas, with a population of over 17 million inhabitants. The city stands in a flat area along the Nile river, between the river and the desert, just upstream of the point where the Nile delta begins. Cairo is a city rich in history: there are traces of the eras of the pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, early Christians, until the advent of Islam. The city is rich in testimonies and lifestyles of countless eras and civilizations. Cairo still retains its atmosphere of a lively and cosmopolitan city, with numerous attractions for tourists.

The current city stands on the site of a Roman fortress (Babylon) dating back to the age of Trajan. Later the Coptic city developed, which in 640 was conquered by the Arabs. During the Arab occupation Cairo grew considerably reaching its maximum splendor during the reign of the Fatimids (IX-XII century) and the subsequent kingdoms of Saladin (XII century) and of the Mamelukes (XIII-XVI century). During these times Cairo was adorned with palaces and sumptuous mosques. The city decayed from the 16th century onwards with Turkish occupation. With British control over Egypt, the city began a period of considerable development. Becoming a modern metropolis, full of contrasts, with the independence of Egypt.


The city is home to the most important Egyptian museum in the world, whose main attractions are the objects found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. A few kilometers from Cairo, in the Giza district, there are the famous Pyramids and the Sphinx. Not far from Cairo are the cities of Heliopolis, Memphis and Saqqara, ancient cities rich in vestiges of the era of the pharaohs.


Christian and Islamic art are well represented in the city. The Hanging Church (Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church) is one of the oldest churches in Egypt. The remains of the Babylon Fortress are from Roman times. While there are structures from the Arab era, the Saladin Citadel, the ancient bazaar of Khan el-Khalili, the mosque of Amr Ibn al-A’as, which is also the first mosque ever built in Egypt, and the al-Azhar University. The historic center of Cairo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



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