The first settlement in the region of present-day Cairo was al-Fustat, founded in A. D. 641 as a military encampment by the Arabic commander 'Amr ibn al-'As. Under the dynasties that ruled Egypt over the following centuries, the town grew into a major port city. In A. D. 969 Jawhar, the leader of an Islamic sect called the Fatimids, founded a new city near al-Fustat, initially naming it al-Mansuriyah (its name was later changed to al-Qahirah, or Cairo). When the Fatimids became the rulers of Egypt, founding a dynasty that lasted for two centuries, Cairo became their capital.
Until the death of Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1848, he instituted a number of social and economic reforms that earned him the title of founder of modern Egypt. However, while Muhammad Ali initiated the construction of public buildings in the city, those reforms had minimal effect on Cairo's landscape. Bigger changes came to Cairo under Isma'il Pasha (r. 1863–1879), who continued the modernization processes started by his grandfather. Drawing inspiration from Paris, Isma'il environs a city of maidans and wide avenues; due to financial constraints, only some of them, in the area now composing Downtown Cairo, came to fruition. Isma'il also sought to modernize the city, which was merging with neighboring settlements, by establishing a public works ministry, bringing gas and lighting to the city, and opening a theater and opera house.
Cairo in a few words
Traveling to Cairo is an adventure that offers so much diversity it's hard to express the thrill of the city using words. The historic and religious importance of the city is present in the faces of the people who live there. The buildings, mosques and churches bring old world charm to the city and the desert offer treasures that are waiting to be discovered. Cairo is a 21st century city that is firmly built on a culturally rich foundation that continues to expand as the past reveals itself. A holiday in Cairo is a walk through time that's unforgettable and uniquely comforting.
Cairo International Airport
Tel: (02) 265 2222 (New Terminal).
Automated flight information tel: 0900 77777
Airport facilities: 24-hour foreign exchange, a tourist information point, duty-free shops, restaurants, shopping malls and a international car hire companies.
- Giza and the Sphinx Pyramids: it is the country's most famous tourist attraction.
- Egyptian Museum: The world's great collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
- Citadel: A grand castle built by Salah Al-Din.
- Al-Azhar Mosque: world's oldest university.
- Ibn Tulun: The oldest, and maybe most wonderful mosque in Cairo.
- The Coptic Museum
- The "Hanging Church" (Church of the Virgin Mary)
- Cairo Tower (185 m./610 ft.) The tower offers a 360-view of Cairo.
- Al-Azhar Park: Landscaped gardens
- Khan El Khalily: Visitors find many merchants selling perfume, spices, gold, and Egyptian hand craft.
- Abdeen Palace. Located about one Kilometer away from the Midan El-Tahrir a five minutes walk, home of the last king of Egypt the exiled king Farouk.
- Pharaonic Village. It is about twenty minutes driving from Downtown.