Islamic Cairo is the name given to the part of today’s Cairo that was first built by the Fatimid Caliphate in the late 900s. The Fatimids raised many Islamic monuments that are now the main attraction factors for tourists in Islamic Cairo.
When visiting Islamic Cairo, expect to do a lot of walking. There are numerous famous mosques built in the medieval times and each of them is worth the visit if you are interested in historic scenery and architectural arts. Many buildings and houses are also still standing in the quiet streets of Islamic Cairo that portray the Islamic architecture. Although these houses are still inhibited by people today, it is very enjoyable for someone who loves architecture to walk around and explore these neighborhoods.
While taking a walk around these buildings, you will also see workshops where workers still, to this day, practice all the Islamic crafts including manufacturing cupper, marble and wood products, designing and manufacturing cultural textile products, making candles, Ramadan lamps, pottery, and even making candies that is sold to kids in shapes of dolls in the Mulid, which is the day celebrating Prophet Mohammed’s birth. You will be able to see all these crafts in action, and it is one of the many beautiful things you can experience walking around the Islamic quarter of Old Cairo.
There are also many bazaars where you can buy beautiful artistic and crafty antiques, home accessories, clothes and many other items that are all handmade and portray the Egyptian culture from ancient Egypt to Islamic Egypt. My favorite place for shopping for gifts or personal items with real cultural authenticity would be Khan el Khalili in Al-Hussein area. The best thing about Khan el Khalili is that as you do your shopping, you can stop by the many coffee shops and restaurants that serve real Egyptian foods, drinks, and shisha for a rest and a delicious cheap authentic Egyptian meal.
Khan el Khalili is usually packed with tourists and all the sellers are very friendly and speak several languages. I personally think that the best time to do the shopping is during the day. During the night, I love to sit in one of the very famous coffee shops, like Al-Fishawy or Nageeb Mahfouz coffee shop, and enjoy a lovely fresh juice during the summer or a great hot and spicy cup of hummus (chickpea) drink during the cold winter nights. This is an experience best enjoyed when shared with a big group of people, but is not at all less significant when enjoyed with a few people or even by yourself observing the beautiful Cairene life. Around Khan el Khalili, in the rest of Al-Hussein area, you will find many mosques that you can visit to experience the Islamic architecture furthermore.
Islamic Cairo is in the heart of Downtown Cairo, so it is in a very convenient location for tourists since most hotels are located in Downtown Cairo and several transportation methods are available. So, put on a comfy outfit and a pair of comfortable shoes and head to the Islamic quarter for a very unique and cultural experience.
© 2009 Yasmine Sheaito