What comes into your mind when you think of Egypt or Cairo?
The Great Pyramids? Of course. The Nile? The world’s longest river depending on whom you ask. How about tombs and mummies? Don’t worry they only come to life in movies. And if your thoughts include artifacts and antiquities, there’s plenty to satiate your curiosity.
All of these and more can be found in Cairo, the sprawling capital of the country dubbed as the “Mother of the World”. Spanning a massive land area of 3,085 square kilometers, it is the largest city not only in Egypt itself but in the Middle East and the Arab Nation.
But before it became the megacity it is today, it went through a fascinating journey through time. And if there’s one thing Cairo has proven to the world, it is strength because it has survived wars, power struggles, revolutions, cultural shifts, plagues, and a massive earthquake.
Here are interesting bits of trivia about Cairo:
- Founded in 969 AD, Cairo has borne witness to countless power struggles and rulers — pharaohs, Ottomans, French, Romans, and Brits.
- In Arabic, Cairo is known as “al-Qahirah”. It means “the Vanquisher” or “the Conqueror”. Many believed that Mars was rising when the city was founded hence the name.
- The infamous Black Death hit Cairo 50 times and killed over 300,000 people.
- Unofficially, there are three kinds of Cairo: Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic.
Pharaonic Cairo gives you, as the name suggest, a glimpse of how life was when Pharaohs has the seat of power. If you want to experience it, visit Heliopolis, also known as the “City of the Sun”.
Aside from Islam, Christianity had a chance to gain traction too. Coptic Cairo shows the influence of Christianity through the Hanging Church and Virgin Mary’s Tree, a sycamore tree where, according to stories, Joseph, Mary and Jesus used as a place of refuge while fleeing from Palestine to Egypt.
Among the three, Islamic Cairo is the most evident. It’s nickname “City of 1000 Minarets” says it all. It is bejeweled by Islamic art and architecture. It has mosques, mansions, madrasas, caravanserais, khanqahs and souks.
- Philomaths would fall in love with this ancient city. Wondering why? Al-Azhar University, the oldest university in the world, is located here. It’s also the university that started the tradition of wearing black robes during graduation.
- Do you know Tutankhamon? The pharaoh whose tomb sparked the curiosity of the world and fueled rumors of curses. Artifacts retrieved during the tomb’s excavation are on display in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.
There’s more to Cairo than these pieces of trivia. If you want to know more, you have to set foot in this magnificent city yourself. Lay your eyes on these ancient wonders and experience the sights and sounds. Sign up for our Egypt tour and know the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, pharaohs, tombs, and the Egyptian culture on a whole new different level.