A human and architectural entity, bursting with movement and life; radiant with a long and gloious past; adorned with the achievements of a distinguished present.
This is Cairo- a cradle of civilization, a wellspring of culture, a beacon of faith, and a meeting-place of the Asian, African and European worlds. An international centre for intellectual, social, economic and political activity.
Cairo is a mainspring for the noblest efforts aimed at peace among all nations and aspiting to the benefit of all mankind.
To understand the secret of Cairo's magnetism and to appreciate the spirit of this living entity, one must travel back in time some fifty centuries to imagine the birth of this radiant city which abounds in the splendours of the Pharaohs, the earliest achievements of Christianity and the glories of Islam. you are invited on a journey through erasbeginning deep in antiquity, thousands of years before Christ.
The journey starts on the west bank of the Nile at the city of Memphis. Egypt's oldest capital, Memphis, was founded 5,000 years ago by Mmnes, the first Pharaoh to combine Egypt's ancient upper and lower kingdoms into one.
Memphis was replaced as Egypt's capital by cities further south but in the erea of Cairo, a second city gained prominence.
That city was located at the site of the present Ein Shams or Matariya. It is memttioned in the Bible "On" and was named "Heliopolis" or "City of the Sun" by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The history of "On" or "Heliopolis" dates back to the third millenium before Chist. It was one of the mostsacred of Egypt's cities and a great centre of learning.
A visitor to Cairo should not miss Heliopolis. Taim has overrun and scourged the ancient city so that nothing remains today except an obelisk which stood at the entrance of the famous "Sun Temple" But there is a sacred relic in this area to which people are attracted. This is the "Tree of the Virgn" in the shade of which the Virgin Mary found shelter when she carried the Babe on their flight to Egypt. Leaving "On" or "Heliopolis " north-east of modern Cairo, our journey through histiry takes us south to an area where at one time the city of "Babylon" stood. Located within the limits of modern Cairo, this area has come to be known as the district of "Old Cairo"
"Babylon" was originally established by the Persian Emperor, Cambyses. Through many centuries, it remained the symbol of supperession and subjugation, for stationed in its fort was a powerful garrison which subjected Egypt to the rule of the Byzantine Empire. Located in this section of Cairo are the remains of one of the world's first Christian communities.
But it remained for the dawn of Islam to propel this area to its lofty position of power and prestige in the modern world. From its advent in 641 A.D., the divine faith flourished in the land of the Nile.
Egypt's first Islamic capital emerged from the military camp of the Moslem leader, Amr ibn el Aas. He built his famous mousque and founded the city of "Fustat" In 750 A.D., "Al-Askar" was founded north of "Fustat", following which Ahmed ibn Touloun founded the town of "Al-Qatayeh" north of "Al-Askar", where his famous mousque stands All these Islamic capitals were preludes to the actual establishment of Cairo itself. This distinction is attributed to the Fatimids who come to Egypt in the year 969 A. D. Crossinb the Nilefrom the west at Giza, they settled at a comp pitched north of "Fustat"
jawhar Al-Saqally, the Fatimid commander-in-chief, is sued orders for a new city to be built to serve as the military headquarters and royal seat of the Fatimid Caliphate. At the time the building started, "Al-Qahir", the planet Mars, was in the ascendant. Considered on omenwhich if followed would insure triumph and divine blessing, the new city was named "Al-Qahir", after that planet.
The growing capital fiourished with palaces, mosques and surrounding wall. Among those features from this era still to be seen todayare the "Al-Zhar" mosque, with its ancint Islamic university, the "Al-Hakem" and "Al-Aqmar" mosque, and three gates of the original wall named "Zuwaila", "Al-Foutuh" and "Al-Nasr"
When Salah Al-Din (Sladin)- hero of the Crusades-established his rule in Egypt, Cairo attained its currently recognized from. He ordered the building of a more massive wall to surround Fatimid Cairo and the remains of "Al-Fustat", "Al-Askar", and "Al-Qatayeh". Also included within the expanded city was Salah Al-Din's famous Citadel, towering above the city on the Mokattam hills from where it has remaind one of the prominent features of Cairo to this day Our journey through history brings us nextto the periode of Mameluke and Turkish domination of Egypt. Cairo's atchitecture flourished and its beauty was complemented by an assembly of stately palaces, mansions and magnificent mosques built during these eras. So numberous were the mosques built during these taimes that Cairo become Known as "The City of a Thousand Minarets". The most important tre those of the Sultans "Hassan", "Al-Nasser", "Barqouq", "Qait Bay" and the "Qalawoon" group.
The journey through Cairo's past continues to the 20th century when much of the city developed a distinctly modern charactre. Today, Cairo is on longer solely a city of minarets, domes wallsand gates. It has become also at city of museume, theatres, hotels, libraries and unversities. As our long journy through time brings us at last to the present, we find a city where wid streets, large squares and elegant buildings take their place side by side with the typical Oriental architecture of the city's past.
Today, Cairo welcomes her friends. With arms outstretched, she invites you to join the company of those who cherish her in a spirit of friendship, understanding and peace.
Pharaonic Monument in Cairo
History tells us that the anclent Egyptian civillation from the 30th. century B.C.- began to evolve an artistic style depicted in architecture sculpture engraving and painting The visitor can discover this for himself all over Egypt. Cairo has been blessed with a good portion of these antiquities.
The Step Pyramid of Saqqara
Built by Zoser, the first of the III Dynasty monarchs It is the first massive stone edifice known to history. The Saqqara Pyramid is considered an evolution in the concept of pyramids, from the simple mostaba to the pyramid in its known from In the region of Saqqara (27 kilometres south-west of Cairo) the visitor may view the pyramids of "Unas" "Oserkaf" and the mastabas of "Mereruka" "Ti" and "Ptahotep" as well as the famous" Serapeum" (the tomb of the bull "Apis")
The Great Pyramid
Built by king Cheops (IVth Dynasty) circa 2690 B.C., the Great Pyramid covers an area of 13 acres. Its heigh, originally 146 metres, has now become 137 metres after the erosion of its summit. The total volume of its stones amounts to 2.5 million cubic metres.
The ancient Egyptian's aim in building the pyramids was that they should serve as sepulchres for their Pharaohs. to preserve their bodies for they believed in resurrection and immortality.
The Second Pyramid
The Second Pyramid was built by king Chefren, the son of Cheops. Its height reaches 136 metres. Parts of the pyramid still bear traces of the outer casing which covered it.
The Third Pyramid
This smaller Pyramid was built in the regin of "Menkaura", the son of Chefren. Its height is 62 metres. The lower wall of this pyramid is encased in a layer of granite.
Amythical statue with the body of a lion and the face of man, the Sphinx measures 70 metres in lenght and appriximately 20 metres in hight. Scholars believe that is the face of the Sphinx closely resembles that of Chefren. The Sphinx and the three Pyramids were considered one of the seven wonders of the world in ancient times.
Ramses II's Statue
Agiant statue of Ramses II, the greatest of thr New Kingdom monarchs (amongst whose immortal relics are the temples of Abu Simble), meets the eyes of those arriving at Cairo for the statue occupies a prominent part of Cairo's Main Railway Station square, which bearshis name, Ramses Square.
The Matariya Obelisk
It stands in the suburb of Matariya. The obelisk is one of the two which once rose tall at the entrance to the famous "Sun Temple" in "Heliopolis" (the present Ein Shams and Matariya)
Islamic Monuments in Cairo
Cairo-"the city of a minarets"-aboundsin all that represents Islamic atchitecture,mosques, schools, hotels, palaces, puplic baths, caravanserais, forts and walls...all of which have thire place in the capital of Arabism and Islam as testimony of its great prestige and ancient glory.
The Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas
The Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas, in the Fustat region, is the first mosque to be built Egypt. Also the oldest Islamic university, it continued to impart its message through nine centuries. It is a spacious mosque pervaded by simplicity and one which the architecture of diverse eras is represented.
The Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Touloun
The Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Touloun, in the district of Sayeda Zeinab, was the third mosque to be built in Egypt. It is distinctive in its huge dimensions and possesses a richcollection of gupsum ornamentation. Its minaret is unique in Egypt as it is distinguishedby an external staircase.
Al-Azhar Mosque, is the fiest Fatimid mousqe in Cairo Situated in the centre of a region abounding in the finest of Islamic monuments, the mousqe in is present from comprises a group of buildings erected during various eras. Al-Azhar University is one of the oldest in the world, the first lecture having been given there in 975 A.D. It is still regarded as the school of lmams and leaders of political revolution and religiious reform movements.
Sultan Hassan Mosque & School
Sultan Hassan Mosque & School, at the end of Al-Qalaa Street (Citadel St.)was built by Sultan Al-Nasser Hassan Ibn Mohamed Ibn Qalwoon as a mosque and school for the four Islamic Sects. The mosque in its entirety, is a rare masterpice of Islamic architecture.
The Dome, school, and Hospital of Qalawoon
The Dome, school, and Hospital of Qalawoon are locatedat the north end of the goldsmith's section in the Azhardistrict. This group is rich in diverse arts; especialy in the dome, the walls of whichare covered with marble inlaid with mither of pearl. The ceilings are ornamented and engraved in gold. It has a marble "mihrab" (the niche facing Mecca), unique for its height and the intricacy of workmanship. The dome is of a unique design and the only one of its kind in Egypt.
Bab Zuwaila & the Mo'ayad Mosque
Bab Zuwaila-one of Cairo 's original gates-was built in 1091 A. D. Rising above it today is the mosque of Al-Mo'ayad with its twin minarets. Built in 1441 A. D.,the mosque is regarded as the pride of the Circassian Mamelukes and its minarets are among the most elegant in Cairo.
The Mosque of Qait Bay
The Mosque of Qait Bay was built by Sultan Qait Bay in 1474 A. D. It is a gem of Islamic architecture; distinguished by its graceful minarte, the engravings of its dome and the harminy of its parts.
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque built by Emir Aq Sanqar Al-Nasseriin 1347 A. D., was named "The Blue Mosque" because of the enormous collection of bule tiles casing its walls. It is distinguished by its rare marble pulpit and its elegant cylindrical minaret.
The Alabaster Mosque
The Alabaster Mosque in the Citadel, is situated on the northern heights of the Citadel where it can be seenfrom every part of Cairo. Construction of the mosque began in 1830 A. D. It was built in the Ottoman stayl and is distinguished by its dome, which is 52 metres high, and its two minarets which rise 84metres from the ground levls of its countryard. From the countryard, one may view the capital, the Nile, and -in the far horizon - the Pyramids. It is named "The Alabaster Mosque" because of the alabaster maeble used to cover its interior and exterior walls.
Salah Al-Din's (Saladin's) Citadel
Salah Al-Din's (Saladin's) Citadel was constructed by Salah Al-Din in 1183 A. D. to dominate Cairo from the Mokattam Hills. It comprises a number of important mounments among which are the Mosque of Soleiman Pasha, the Alabaster Mosque and Joseph's Well.
The House of Gamal Al-Din Al-Zaahaby
The House of Gamal Al-Din Al-Zaahaby at Al Ghouria is an example of Arab houses at the beginning of the 17th century A. D. The houses still preserves most of its details and characterisfics; most prominent of which are the marble fountain in the countyard, the "mashrabiya" (wooden lattice-work), its ornamented halls and its coloured glass.
The House of Al-Seheimy
The House of Al-Seheimy, at Darb Al-Asfar, is a model of Islamic architecture which has preserved all its detils. It has a fountain, and the upper story hall in the northern wing is distinctive in that its walls are covered with tiles.
Khan Al-Khalili dating back to the end of the 14th century A. D. is one of the greatest oriental bazaars in the lection of brassware, rich textiles and other attractive orientel products.
Christian minumentts in Cairo
Most of the ancient churches are located in the district of "Old Cairo" above the ruins of the fort of "Babylon"
The Church of Abu Serga's
The Church of Abu Serga's history dates back to the be ginnings of the 5th century A. D. It was built in the Basilica style above the cave in which the Holy Family took refuge and whichis considered the goal of many visitors in search od divine blessing.
Al-Mo'alaqa Church was built in the 5th century in the Basilica style, over the southern gate of the fort of "Babylon" It is rich in beautiful antiquities from the early Christian era.
The Church of the Virgen's
The Church of the Virgen's history dates back to the 8th aentury A. D. It containe some valuable icons.
The Church of Saint Barbara
The Church of Saint Barbara was completed in the 5th century A. D. and was rebuilt in the 10th century. Its wooden portal (considered a rare masterpiece in fine woodwork)is still preserved.
The Church of Mar Girgis
The Church of Mar Girgis rises over the ruins of an old church. Built in the Basilica style, it comprises a rare hall which dates back to the 13th century.
Saint Mar'c Cathedral
Saint Mar'c Cathedral is the largest church in Africa. Recently built in the region of Abbasslya it is considered an example of progress in architecture The remains of Saint Marc, the first of the apostles to spread Christianity in Egypt have been transferred to this Cathedral.
The most important features of modern Cairo
The Cairo Tower at Gezira
Among the most prominent features of the city the Cairo Tower rises to a hight of over 180 meters Two storeys are situated at the top the first of which with a revolving floor The visitor can enjoy the sights of Cairo form the top of the tower with the use of panoramic equipment attached to its terraces. Also located at the top of the tower is a restaurant and a cafeteria for the comfort of the visitor.
The Sound & Light Shows at the Pyramids and Citadel
These artistic presentations rely on sound and light to produce inspiring, romantic atospheres which take one back to events of ancient history: the story of the building of the pyramids and the glory of the Pharaohs, and the story of Saladin's Citadel, Arab heroism and the glories of Islam. The shows are presented in four languages. Arabic, English, French, and German.
The Egyptian Museum in Al-Tahrir Square
This is one of the world's greatest museum. It allows the visitor to become acquainted with the antiquities of Egypt's Pharaonic period. Artifacts and monuments on display date back some 50 cemturies before our time. The most famous and exciting in this museum is the magnificent "Tut Ankh Amun"collection.
The Coptic Museum in Old Cairo
The Coptic Museum in Old Cairo This museum contains a collection of rare antiquities from one of the earliest Christian communities in the world.
The Museum of Islamic Art at Ahmed Maher Square
A magnificent collection of Islamic curiosities representative of diverse Islamic eras, is one display in this museum. In addition to the sights described above, modern Cairo abounds with ather museums and monuments worth seeing You will find many of them marked on the map.
Cairo at night
Night-time in Cairo is a bathing in a dreamy lake of lights and inspiring shadows. Night-time in Cairo combines the magic of the East with the arts of the West to offer the visitors a night -life brimful with every type of enjoyment and beauty. The most important of Cairo's night entertainments are the "Sound & Light" Shows at the Pyramids and Citadel. Theatres and large cinemas throughout the city present Egyptian and international performances. At casinos and night-clups located primarily on the banks of the nileor in the region of the Pyramids, the visitor can enjoy a delightful evening of music, both oriental and western, singing and dancing, folklor troupe dancing, and western shows of all kinds.
Cairo: Starting-point for sightseeing throughout EgyptVisitor #
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