Cairo means “Victorious”. The city is considered to be one because, since it was founded, it was an important city both of the continent and of the Arab World. Today it is the largest city in Africa and it is one of the most important cities in the Arab World.
The Cairo metropolitan area has a population of over 17 million, of which almost 7 million live in the city itself. The city has been the capital of the country for more than a thousand years, and over the years, several nicknames were given. These include “City of the Tents” and “The city of a thousand Mazan”. The latter refers to the large number of mosques. Mazan is the tower of a mosque.
Even the geographical aspects of the city made Cairo a much visited tourist destination. The fact that the city is situated on the banks of the Nile, the longest river in the world, makes it very attractive. The Pyramids and the Great Sphinx play a major role in the city’s tourist life. Millions of visitors come to Cairo each year to see these incredible structures.
The hot desert climate also makes possible for Cairo to be a true summer holiday spot. During the evenings and nights, temperatures can even drop below 10 °C, of course, only during winter. From May to October, the average low is around 19 °C. The “cold” nights are welcomed after the hot days. January is the only month, when the highs are below 20 °C, but in July and August, you can expect temperatures exceeding 35 °C.
The Cairo International Airport connects the city to all the major cities around the world, and even more. In 2008, there were scheduled flights of 61 airlines. You can reach Cairo and the surrounding cities by shuttle buses, taxis and even limousines. The fact that the airport is able to handle even the A380, which is the largest passenger plane in the world, made it a major hub, connecting Africa to Europe and Middle East. Over 12.5 million passengers were handled in 2007.
Even in the 6th century BC, this area was settled. This guarantees a very rich and varied history to the city. Countless historical sites are situated near Cairo. Without a doubt, the most important ones are the pyramids and the Great Sphinx. The Giza pyramid complex is the most important historical sight of the world because it is the only still standing monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Egypt was the home of another building, which was one of the Seven Wonders, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was destroyed by earthquakes in the 14th and 15th century. Built more than 2500 years BC, the Pyramid of Cheops is the largest one of this complex and it was the tallest building in the world until the 13th century.
Also in the Giza pyramid complex, you can find the Great Sphinx of Giza. This monumental sculpture portrays a half man, half lion zoomorphic creature sculpted in monolith. It has the volume of almost two Olympic-size swimming pools.
The Saladin Citadel of Cairo was built in the late 12th century and several buildings were raised in the following centuries. The Mosque of Mohamed Ali is the latest addition, being built in the mid 19th century. Today this complex is one of the most visited tourist attractions of the city.
The Hanging Church is also a popular Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo. It is one of the oldest churches of the country and over one hundred icons are visible here. Beside other seven Coptic churches, the Babylon Fortress and the Coptic Museum it is located in the Coptic Cairo area. This area is a part of the Old Cairo district. Here you can found the remnants of previous Egyptian capitals, such as Fustat.
Of course, many more recent buildings are also much visited by tourists. Such place is the Cairo Opera House. Having three halls, it is the home of the Cairo Modern Dance Theater, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company and the Cairo Opera and Symphony Orchestra. Before this music venue was built, the Khedivial Opera House served as the main opera house of the city. Besides the live performing arts, the movies are also very popular. This is the reason, why the Cairo International Film Festival is held here.
No city can be an attractive holiday destination if it has no parks and extended green areas. In Cairo, the best example has to be the Al-Azhar Park. The Museum of Historic Cairo will be built in this multi million park and will exhibit the history of the city from its beginnings.
The Khan el-Khalili is a souk located in the Old City too. A souk is a commercial center, but it is often as the name of the market of an Arab town. Here you can enjoy the Hookah, a traditional Arab coffee or some specialties of the regional cuisine. You can also buy clothes, jewelry or perfumes.
All over the city, you can find many restaurants and bars. These range from simple eateries to refined restaurants and from pubs to flashy nightclubs. The Cairo Jazz Club is one of the most popular nightspots of the city offering weekly live music. There are also places where the east meets west. The DJ in these places plays the most popular music of the respective genres. Such places are Le Mirage Discoteque and Saddle.
Cairo is a perfect holiday location for young and old, both offering a large variety of activities and interesting sights. During the long sunny days you can also get a great tan, while enjoying the local food specialties or visiting one of the oldest monuments of the world.