Known officially as Al Qāhirah, the enchanting city of Cairo is the largest city in both the Arab and the African nations and the most populated city in the world. It is also the administrative capital of the country and has long been a culturally rich city much before it was established in the 10th century. The remnants of past capitals can still be seen in the old part of the city. Apart from this Cairo lies in a strategic location that brings it in close proximity to some of Egypt’s national treasures such as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids in neighboring Giza.
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As Cairo was located at a focal point upstream the Nile Delta, it was quite in focus, but the first signs of a settlement only came up in the first millennium. The oldest structure in the city is Babylon, a fortress town built by the Romans along the east bank of the River Nile. The city is also known as the City of a Thousand Minarets because during the Muslim invasion several mosques were built in the city. From Roman to Arab, Ottoman and brief British and French occupations, Cairo has had a strong cultural history coming down the centuries.
Cairo began to develop as a modern city during the 19th century when Mohammad Ali Pasha constituted some reforms that led to a considerable modernization of the city. In the period when Cairo was under the British rule, there were several more developments that took place, such as the building of bridges and up-market neighborhoods like the Zamalek, the Garden City etc. It went through continuous developments and is today an important economic and cultural centre for both Africa and the Arab countries.
Situated in Lower Egypt, Cairo has a dessert climate with strong Saharan winds blowing dust in the months of March to April. Although rainfall is scarce, when it rains the city is flooded by the sudden downpour. As far as tourism is concerned Cairo is a much sought after tourist destination because one can see several places of interests in a nearby radius of the city.
The Old City is the most fascinating area with the Coptic Museum, Hanging Church, Babylon Fortress, Ben Ezra Synagogue, Amr-ibn-al’As Mosque and the Greek Church. Then there is the prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque, which was once home to the prestigious Al-Azhar University. The Egyptian Museum with its massive collection of antiquities from ancient Egypt is also worth a visit. The ancient shopping complex, the Khan-El-Khalili is an exciting place to shop.