Cairo is the capital of Egypt and also the largest city in the Arab world. The metropolitan area of Cairo has a population of about 20 million, which is the largest in Africa, the Arab world, the Middle East and also the 6th largest in the world.
Founded in 969 AD by the Fatimid Dynasty, Cairo was a site of ancient national capital, the remnants of which can still be seen in the Old Cairo. Since then, Cairo has been a centre of the region’s political and cultural life. Because of the predominance of the Islamic Architecture, the city is also titled as ‘the city of thousand minarets.’
Let’s dig into a little history of the Cairo City:
In the year 969 AD, the Fatimids had conquered Egypt. They started building a city, which was to serve as the capital of their empire. It took as much as four years to build the city, which was initially named as al-Manṣūriyyah. It was later renamed as Cairo. Cairo eventually became the centre of learning, as the library of Cairo contained thousands of books.
During the middle ages, even though the city of Cairo avoided the stagnation of the Europeans, it had no escape from the Black Death. The Black Death or the Plague was one of the deadliest pandemics recorded in the human history. This pandemic struck the city of Cairo for more than 50 times between 1348 and 1517. With the pandemic, Cairo’s population faced a major blow and had diminished the status of the city to certain levels.
This status stooped lower when Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route to around the Cape of Good Hope. With this discovery, the spice traders then were able to avoid Cairo on their way to their desired destination. The city’s political influence diminished even more when the Ottomans supplanted the Mamluk power over Egypt in the year 1517. By the 18th century, Cairo was the second-largest empire behind Constantinople.
Today, Greater Cairo is the largest metropolitan area in Africa.
Cairo – A Cultural Centre
Cairo is a place that exhibits love for all sorts of arts. From sports to architecture, Cairo is famous for everything. Let’s look at a few cultural centers in Cairo that reflect the city’s love for various art forms.
Cairo Opera House
On October 10th of the year 1988, President Mubarak inaugurated the Cairo Opera House of the Egyptian National Cultural Centers. This was 17 years after the Royal Opera House was destroyed by fire.
The Royal Opera House, or the Khedivial Opera House was the original opera house of Cairo, which was burned down 28th October 1971. Cairo had been without an Opera House for nearly two decades until the opening of the Cairo Opera House.
The Cairo International Film Festival:
The first Cairo International Film Festivals was launched by the Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics in the year 1976. It was headed by Kamal-El-Malakh. The festival was ran by the Association for 7 years until 1983.
The food in Cairo has a blend of the Middle Eastern cuisine and also some o the local staples like the Kushari. Some of the most exclusive restaurants in Cairo are concentrated in Zamalek. The luxury hotels of Cairo can be found around the lining of the shore near the Nile in the Garden City district. The cuisine here is also influenced by the modern western and one can find the popular American food chains such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway, and KFC in the central areas of the city.
Cairo’s Iconic Landmarks:
Initially named as the Ismailia Square, the Tahrir Square was founded during the 19th century. Since it is located at the centre of the city, Tahrir Square has witnessed major protests over the years. Although, among all the revolutions and protests, one of the most notable was the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, a revolt against the former president, Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum as it is commonly known as, The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities holds several ancient Egyptian Antiquities in the world. There as much as 136,000 items on display in the museum with thousands more stored in the basement storerooms. Among the many items on display, one can also have a look at the findings from the famous tomb of Tutankhanum.
The Cairo Tower
The famous Cairo Tower is a free-standing tower that has a revolving restaurant at the top. One can get a bird’s eye view of the city of Cairo from the top, a mesmerizing sight to the eyes. The tower stands in the Zamalek district on Genzira Island in the Nile River, in the city centre.
All said, Cairo can hold a tight spot on your travel list, with the beautiful cityscapes and revolutionary landmarks. And to all the geeks, who love history like nothing other, the museum of Cairo could be your paradise! Cairo, a city that withholds boatload of history!
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