Egypt – Charming Cairo Explorer
Cairo is an ancient city that also happens to be a modern metropolis. It is one of the largest cities in the Middle East and the traffic and noise issues prove it. As long as you are not looking for solitude, Cairo—the City of the Thousand Minarets—is an impressive place to explore Egyptian history and culture.
Cairo is the largest city in Africa and its name means “the victorious city”. Located on both banks of the River Nile and inhabited for over 6000 years. Cairo has served as the capital of numerous Egyptian civilizations and known locally as “Misr”, the Arabic name for Egypt, because of its centrality in Egyptian life.
Greater Cairo is spread across three of Egypt’s administrative governorates. The north-eastern part is known as Kaliobia Governorate, while the west bank is part of the governorate of Giza. The eastern and southeastern parts are another governorate known as Cairo. All three parts together form greater Cairo.
Traditions and influences of the East and the West, ancient and the modern mark the city. However, the city also reflects Egypt’s growing poverty. It struggles with massive population growth, urban sprawl and a deteriorating infrastructure.
Cairo covers an area more than 453 sq. km (more than 175 sq. m) and it is difficult to separate the city from its immediate suburbs. Joined by the desert to the east, south and west and surrounded by the fertile Nile delta to the north, Cairo sits astride the river. Several river islands play an important role in the life of the city. As the region’s principal commercial, administrative and tourist centre it also contains many cultural institutions, business establishments, governmental offices, universities, and hotels. Together they create a dense pattern of constant activity.
The centre of downtown Cairo is Tahrir Square, located on the east bank a hub of tourist activity. The vast and open square contains numerous attractions, including the Egyptian Museum, the Arab League headquarters and the modern Umar Makram Mosque.
The Corniche extends from north to south along the east bank of the Nile. Located nearby is a narrow strip of land known as Garden City, one of the city’s newer residential areas. In the centre of the city is Zamalek Island (also called Jezerah, meaning “the Island”).
It houses upscale residential and commercial properties; the Cairo Opera House (founded in 1869) and the Cairo Tower (1961). Three bridges link the island with both banks of the river.
The island of Al-Rodah, located to the south, is linked to the mainland by two additional bridges, while another bridge to the north carries road and rail traffic across the Nile.