Cairo City Tour

8:47:00 AM Brooke Neal 11 Comments

We spent one full day touring Cairo with our guide.  Our first stop was the Giza Pyramid Plateau, then a tour of the National Museum of Cairo where the treasures of King Tut are found.  After lunch we made a quick stop at the Coptic Christian Hanging Church, a Jewish synagogue then finished our day at a market.  It was a full day, but Cairo is so busy, dirty and chaotic I am not sure I would have wanted to stay any longer. I was satisfied we hit the highlights...below are a few of the sights and sounds.  

I actually love the markets and would have been happy to stay longer, but we ran out of time.  I asked our guide why they sell risque belly dancer type costumes when women are expected to dress conservatively and cover.  She smiled and said, "yes, but in the bedroom, we can wear what we want, wink, wink."

While wandering in the market we were approached by locals who wanted to take our photos.  I was a bit unnerved by it, but our guide assured us it was fine.  They are just excited to see foreigners--Tourism has been hit hard since the violence of the revolution.  Our guide told us some harrowing stories from that time.  She is very thankful to be working again, even if it is only 50% of normal.  

Notice that truck bed filled with garlic--it must have been 6 feet high.  Garlic was in season as we saw it piled high lots of places.  That stele was taken out front of the Cairo National Museum. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to photograph anything inside--it's a bummer too because the King Tut exhibit is incredible.  The number of artifacts, the amount of gold, the intricate hand work, was so, so amazing.  I kept repeating myself and it became a running joke with my daughter who would say, "mom, is it incredible?"

I have to say a word about the state of the museum though--Housed in this dusty, dingy, decaying museum is the Egyptian heritage of 4000 years.  The artifacts are numerous and impressive, but the building is poorly light, peeling, and in a state of general disrepair.  I was so surprised that their national treasure is not housed in a more modern facility. 
 This burned out hotel (right next to the museum) is evidence of the revolution just two years ago.  Notice the barbed wire fence--behind it was a line of about 10 tanks.  There is a very strong military presence in the city.

Cairo has a large Coptic Christian population.  As a matter of fact, Christianity was well established in Egypt for 400 years before the Muslin conquest. According to tradition, the Apostle Mark introduced Christianity to Alexandra. Within 200 years it became the dominate religion in the area. It's interesting to think how things might be different if Egypt were still predominately Christian--and how modern Christianity would look if they were more mainstream.

It just so happened to be Palm Sunday and the Hanging Church (oldest Christian Church in Cairo) was so full of parishioners we could not get inside the chapel to view the 7th century frescos. Similar to a Catholic Mass, the priest was singing the Mass.

I had a love/hate relationship with Cairo.  They have so many fascinating historic things to see, but the city is a wreck. The canals are completely polluted, driving there is a horn honking nightmare and did I mention the place is filthy. The people however, were lovely! We had really good interactions with the locals. Even in the market, the shop owners were respectful.

11 comments:

  1. I would absolutely love to go, it looks and sounds incredible! Maybe in a year or so now! :D

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  2. What amazing colors you saw! Bet it was an experience.

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  3. You've photographed some wonderful details of street life!

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  4. Magnificent photography! What a place and filled with lots of colors too!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

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  5. No wonder the locals are grateful to see tourists slowly coming back, I haven't been for many, many years so it is lovely to be reminded of the vibrancy of Cairo...if a little sad... You have shown us all sides of Cairo in your interesting choice of photos. I would like to return.
    Wren x

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  6. So colourful and vibrant! Love that old wooden door.

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  7. Love all those colors! Wonderful photos!

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  8. Loved all your photos. Some day I too would like to travel to Cairo.

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  9. Hi, wonderful blog and also amazing Pictures. Recently, some of my friends have been to Cairo by Mantis Tourism & Attractions. As per their concern the city was very hectic, crowded, busy and dirty, but still then Cairo is noted for its historically important mosques and other Islamic monuments, and lives in the eyes of the Egyptians. Your post has numerous things that bring excitement for me to visit that place. Definitely, I will visit it after getting a break from my busy schedule.

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