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Old Cairo attractions, Egypt

Old Cairo attractions, Egypt

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Old Cairo was the seed that grew into the city of Cairo we know today, which has some of the most amazing places for tourists to see. Old Cairo is the historical part of the city, located in the southern part of the capital, and the oldest Egyptian structures are located on its territory. Two thousand years ago, the first places to live in Old Cairo were at the beginning of an old canal that ran from the Nile River to the Red Sea. Even though the Nile isn’t as big as it used to be, some of the most interesting historical sites in the world are still in Old Cairo.

It would be best if you went to Old Cairo to see something unique. Here is a list of all the well-known Islamic and Christian buildings in Old Cairo. Find out about the best and most interesting places to visit in Cairo. Start in Coptic Cairo, which has the Hanging Church, the Abu Surjeh Church, the Coptic Museum, the Ben Synagogue Ezra, and other churches. Coptic Cairo is the center of the Christian world in Egypt. Then, walk through the streets and alleys and visit the most famous places in Islamic Cairo, such as the Cairo Citadel, the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, the Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sultan Hassan Mosque and al Hussein Mosque, and Al Moez Street, which is one of the most famous and beautiful streets in Egypt.

How to get old Cairo?

Old Cairo is in the city’s southeast, and the best way to get there is by taxi or on a tour that takes you between the sights. Take the metro to the Mar Girgis stop, across from the Hanging Church and the Coptic Museum.


Here are some of the most famous attractions to visit in Old Cairo :

  1. The Hanging Church 

The Church of the Virgin Mary, the Hanging Church or Al-Moallaqa, is the most famous place in Coptic Cairo. This name comes from the fact that it was built on top of the walls of the Roman fortress of Babylon in the 4th century BC. Some of those walls can still be seen in Coptic Cairo. Even though the effect isn’t as strong today because trash and dust have made the ground rise more than 30 feet over the centuries, this church used to stand out from its surroundings on the high walls of the fortress. The roof of the Hanging Church is made of wood and looks like Noah’s ark. The church was built in the 9th century but may have been there since the 3rd century AD. This makes it the oldest Christian religious site in Egypt. People also think it is the most beautiful old church in the area. You can visit Old Cairo inside the Coptic Quarter to see the Hanging Church.


Don’t miss check out our Coptic Cairo Attractions.


  1. Cairo Citadel 

The Citadel of Sultan Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) is one of the most famous buildings in Islamic Cairo and one of the most impressive defensive fortresses from the Middle Ages. Its strategic location on the Muqattam Hills gave it a strong defensive position and a wide view of Cairo, which it still does. Over the years, many monuments have been added to the Citadel, giving visitors a wide range of places to see, such as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, the most famous building there. You can also go to the mosque of the Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun, the Sulayman Pasha al-Khadim Mosque from the time of the Ottomans, and many museums, like the Police Museum, the Al-Jawhara Palace Museum, and the Military Museum. You can read the article about the Cairo citadel to find out more.


  1. Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque 

Amr Ibn Al-Aas built the first mosque in Egypt and Africa in 642. It is called the Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque. One of the most important religious sites in Cairo is in the Old Cairo neighborhood, which is full of religious sites and is one of the most important places in Cairo. The Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque is important because it was the first mosque in Africa and one of the first places where Islamic knowledge was shared before Al-Azhar was built. It is also important because of the beauty and elegance of its Islamic design, both inside and out, and because it is a very spiritual and peaceful place.


  1. Coptic Museum is one of the old Cairo attractions

The museum is one of the famous places in the Coptic Quarter in Old Cairo. The Coptic Museum opened in 1910 and had the world’s largest collection of Coptic artifacts. Marcus Simaika Pasha, a well-known Copt who cared about keeping Coptic history alive, worked to get the museum started. Simaika Pasha bought and gathered Coptic artifacts and different parts of older churches that were being fixed up. He then used these things to build the museum and start its collection. The artifacts in the museum show how Coptic art blended with other cultures, such as Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman, and how it changed over time to become what it is today. It has a large collection of beautifully decorated manuscripts, icons, finely carved woodwork, and intricate frescos with religious scenes found in old monasteries and churches.


  1. Mosque of Muhammad Ali 

In old Cairo, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali is inside the Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) Citadel. And it’s a well-known mosque around the world. On the site of the Mamluk palaces, Muhammad Ali Pasha built it in 1265 AH, which is 1848 AD. This mosque is called the “Alabaster Mosque” because its inside and outside walls are made of marble. At 84 meters, the mosque’s twin minarets are the tallest in all of Egypt. The mosque was made in the Turkish style, with an open court and a place to pray. The prayer hall is a square room with a large dome in the middle, four semi-domes on the sides, and four small domes in the corners. There are two minibars (pulpits) inside the mosque. The original is made of green-painted wood, while the other is made of marble and was added later.

Find here our guide to Islamic Cairo Attractions


  1. St. Sergius & Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)

The Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus, also called Abu Serga, is in Old Cairo. It was built on an old Roman fort. It is thought to have been built where the Holy Family stopped resting at the end of their journey to Egypt, which caused the church to have a special place in the religion of the Copts. It is named after the famous saints Sergius and Bacchus, who died for their Christian beliefs at al-Resafa in Syria in the early fourth century AD. The Church of Abu Serga and its underground cave are built similarly to other early Christian churches. So, they are made up of the narthex, the nave, and the sanctuary (the cave below the sanctuary). The church has unique architectural and artistic features that show how Coptic architecture in Egypt is made. Some of these are the pulpit, the baptismal font, the inlaid ivory, the wood templon, and the unique religious designs of saints and apostles on the domes, walls, and columns. 


  1. Al-Azhar Mosque 

One of the oldest and most important mosques in Egypt and the Arab world is the Al-Azhar Mosque. It is the largest religious organization in the Islamic world and is a source of knowledge. The Mosque was built during Ramadan in 361 AH or 972 AD. On April 4, 970, Jawhar al-Saqli started building Al-Azhar after being told by the Fatimid Caliph al-Muizz Li Din Allah. The Al-Azhar complex, Mosque, and university are in the middle of Islamic Cairo. They are home to the oldest university in the world and the oldest Mosque in the world. Al Azhar used to be only half as big as it is now. During different times, the Mosque grew, got new buildings, and was fixed up until it was the size and shape it is today. The first Mosque of Al Azhar had three prayer halls (iwnas) and a sahn in the middle (open-air courtyard). The old Mihrab of the Mosque was beautifully decorated with ornaments and Kofi writings from the Noble Qur’an. The Mosque is still a fantastic sight you can’t miss if you go to Cairo. Also, because of where it is, it is the ideal place to start your tour of Islamic Cairo.


  1. Khan El Khalili Bazaar 

It is the most well-known market in Egypt. The Khan el-Khalili Bazaar is in the middle of Islamic Cairo, close to the Medieval walled city of the Saladin Citadel. It was built on the graves of the Fatimid Caliphs, who founded Cairo in the 10th century. The souk has been a place to buy and sell things since the 14th century, but the intricately carved monumental gates and grid-like alleyways were built in the 16th century by Egypt’s last powerful Mamluk ruler. If you want to buy something, The gold sellers, coppersmiths, and spice sellers are still in their areas. And if you want to buy souvenirs, The rest of the bazaar’s stalls are full of colorful lanterns, candles, jewelry, perfumes, musical instruments, and other handicrafts. You can find anything you want within its walls! Even if you don’t want to buy anything, the market is a great place to walk through and see how crazy life is in Cairo. There are places to eat, like the Naguib Mahfouz restaurant, and places to drink, like the el feshawy coffee shop, where you can get tea or any other drink you want.


  1. Mosque of ibn Tulun 

It is the oldest mosque in the city that still looks like it did when it was built. It is Cairo’s biggest mosque. It stands out because it is made of adobe and has a beautiful frieze on the outside wall. Ibn tulun mosque has a spiral minaret that is the only one of its kind in all of Egypt. The views of Cairo from the top are amazing. Inside is a 90-meter-long courtyard with entrances on all sides. And there is a big fountain in the middle. But it wasn’t its history that struck me the most; it was its size. The fact that it’s so big makes it feel like you’re suddenly not in the chaos of Cairo anymore when you walk in. It cuts you from the city entirely, and you can breathe great peace.


  1. Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan 

This Mosque was built in the middle of the 14th century. Even though it is huge, this Muslim place of worship is also exquisite. The Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hasan is one of Egypt’s biggest and most beautiful mosques. An-Nasir Hassan, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, ordered it to be built, and it was finished in 1359. At the time, it was an imposing piece of architecture. It is one of the largest mosques in the world. It is 150 meters (492 feet) long, and its tallest minaret stands 68 meters (223 feet) above Cairo’s old city. The Mosque has an open courtyard in the middle and a fountain. There are four iwans around the courtyard (a rectangular open space on one side). The doors leading into four schools called madrasas are at the courtyard’s four corners. These schools taught the four Sunni schools of Islamic law: Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanafi, and Hanbali. In the Mamluk style, the Mosque has two minarets. The ornate domes distinguish the Mosque and madrasa, stone and plaster carved decorations, and the marble works of the mihrab.​  ​  


  1. Synagogue Ben Ezra

The oldest Jewish synagogue in Egypt is the Ben ‘Ezra Synagogue. It used to be where many parties, meetings, and prayers took place, but it isn’t used anymore. Abraham ibn ‘Ezra, a Jewish religious scholar and thinker, is honored by the synagogue’s name. Ben ‘Ezra has everything that makes a synagogue a synagogue. In the middle is the bimah, or pulpit, from which prayers were read. The hekhal, which shows where people should pray, is the most important part of a synagogue. It is decorated in an Arabesque style and inlaid with a mother of pearl, showing how different art styles can work together. It has the Hebrew words for the Ten Commandments written on it.


  1. Al-Azhar Park 

Al Azhar Park is one of the most beautiful and largest parks in Greater Cairo. It is also one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Al Azhar Park has an area of 80 acres and is called a “paradise in the heart of the Egyptian capital” because it is in the middle of old and historic Cairo. The garden has a great view of Cairo from all sides. From any side of the garden, you can see the citadel of Salah al-Din and the mosque of Muhammad Ali. Al-Azhar Park is a popular place for tourists in Egypt because it is on a hill surrounded by some of Islamic Cairo’s most important historic neighborhoods. You can feel calm and at ease there, and the scenery is beautiful.


  1. Al Rifai Mosque 

Al-Rifai-Mosque in old Cairo

 Al Rifa’i Mosque is a beautiful Mosque in Cairo. It is also called the Royal Mosque because many of Egypt’s royal family members are buried there. The Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan is on the other side of the street from the Al Rifa’i Mosque, near the Saladin Citadel in Cairo. It took 43 years to build the huge place of worship, which was finished in 1912. The rulers of Egypt built the mosque in the 19th century as part of a plan to modernize the capital city and honor Egypt’s Islamic past. Mamluk’s architecture influenced the look of the mosque, especially its dome and minaret. The design of the Al-Rifa’i Mosque is just as attractive as the history of how it was built. People are amazed by how the outside walls, gates, and columns are decorated and how big they are. The minarets stand out because they are so elegant and beautiful. Also, cement was used to build the mosque for the first time in any Islamic building in Egypt, which marked the beginning of the modern era.


  1. Al-Hakim Mosque 

al-Hakim-bi-Amr-Allah in old Cairo

The Mosque of al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah is the second largest Mosque in Egypt after the Mosque of ibn Tulun and the fourth oldest Mosque in Egypt. On the right side of Bab el-Futuh in Islamic Cairo, Cairo, Is the beautiful Al-Hakim Mosque, named after the third caliph of the Fatimid dynasty, who became one of Egypt’s most hated rulers. The Mosque was an enclosure of  Gawhar Al Siqilli, but it was added to Badr al-larger Gamali’s defensive walls. The building’s design was based on the Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tullun, which had arcades with piers and pointed arches and a space between the Mosque and the city around it. The Mosque is made of brick, and the front and minarets are stone. The Mosque is shaped like a triangle with four arcades and a courtyard in the middle. On either side of the front, there are two minarets. Over the years, the Mosque has been fixed in more than one way. The Mosque has a long and exciting history. During the French campaign, its minarets were used as watchtowers when it was used as barracks. The House of the Arab Antiquities was a museum of Islamic art in the qibla arcade.


  1. Fortress of Babylon

Fortress-of-Babylon in old Cairo

Babylon Fortress was a big castle that could be called a fortress city. It was in Egypt’s Delta region in old Cairo, in an area called Coptic Cairo. On its walls are the Hanging Church and the Church of St. George. This fort is called Qasr el Shamee, which means “palace of the candles.” At the start of every month, the fortress’s towers were lit with candles, so people could watch the sun move from one building to the next.


  1. Al Moaz li din Allah is one of the most famous landmarks in Old Cairo attractions

Al-Moaz-li-din-Allah in old Cairo

Al-Muizz Street is named after al-Muizz li-Din Allah, the first Fatimid Caliph who built this street. Today, Al-Muizz Street is the world’s largest open-air museum of Islamic monuments and a unique heritage site that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Over the years, the street has had many names. In 1937, it became known as al-Muizz to honor the man who founded Cairo. The historical street runs between two of Cairo’s old city walls, from Bab al-Futuh in the north to Bab Zuwayla in the south. It goes through many important and well-preserved ancient alleys and streets, such as Amir al-Guyush Street, Darb al-Asfar, Borgowan Alley, Khan al-Khalili, and al-Ghuriyya. Along al-Muizz street are markets, street vendors, and shops selling local arts and crafts. This adds to the charm of this old street.


  1. St. George’s Church 

St.-George’s-Church in old Cairo

The Greek Orthodox St. George’s Church was built on top of the Roman fort’s north tower in the 10th century. It is where the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria is thought to be based. The Church is named after St. George, in the neighborhood of Old Cairo. It was the first place where Christians lived in central Egypt, possibly as early as the 10th century. This Church is the only one in Egypt that is round. On the outside of the building is a picture of St. George riding a horse and using his lasso to hit a dragon tree. The Church stands out because the inside is dark, and the light from the sun comes in through the windows. The room smells like incense. The walls are covered with icons and kitschy pictures of saints from the 11th to 15th centuries. Under the Church, dark passages are lit up that lead to a well where the Holy Family used to get water to drink. 


  1. Wekalet El Ghorya is one of old Cairo attractions

Wekalet-el-ghoreya in old Cairo

The Ghoreya complex is a well-known place in the Al-Azhar neighborhood. It is at the beginning of Al-Muizz street. On the east side of the road, you can see the tomb that Al-Ghuri built. Unfortunately, his body parts were lost during the Ottoman war and were not buried there. It was the most popular place to buy gifts made of fine fabrics. Now, many people think of it as the first place to buy clothes and furnishings.



If you want to go to Old Cairo and are interested in Islamic and Coptic Cairo landmarks, you can find the most well-known Islamic and Christian buildings there in this essay. You can have a great vacation in Egypt by going on tours with Cairosightseeing to see the top sights in Old Cairo.


Book Cairo City Tour Cairo Museum, Citadel, and Khan El Khalili to enjoy the famous landmarks in Cairo.


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