Cairo is full of beautiful monuments and historical places. Of course, the first thing about Cairo that comes to people’s minds is the Pharos, the Citadel, and all the different museums, but Cairo has much more to offer. In Celebration of Egypt being included in Lonely Planet’s list of the best destination for 2022, we wanted to compile a list of a few hidden gems that you should definitely check out.
Mosque of Sultan Hassan
The Mosque of Sultan Hassan, located in El-Khalifa district in El-Sayeda Zeinab, is one of the largest Mosques in Egypt. Built in the 14th century, it didn’t only serve as a mosque, but also a fortress in times of war due to its proximity to the Citadel.
The oldest stone building in the world. The pyramid was built as a tomb for king Zoser back in 2650 BC. Built and designed by the Egyptian architect Imhotep, the pyramid consists of six steps and is a staggering 750 metres tall. This pyramid was a revolution as before its construction, Egyptian kings were buried in a hole in the ground with a Mastaba, a giant rectangular stone above them.
Cairo’s Remaining Nilometer
Roda Island, south of Gezira Island, isn’t just home to the marvellous Monastirli Palace, but it also houses Cairo’s Nilometer, which was used to measure the flow of the Nile and predict the annual flood heights.
Ben Ezra synagogue
The oldest Jewish temple in Egypt is in Kom-Ghorab, Old Cairo. The Ben Ezra synagogue is a piece of art. It contains all the main features of a synagogue. According to the ministry of tourism and antiquities, the synagogue was originally an Orthodox church, but it was sold to the Jews of Egypt.
Fortress of Babylon
Another marvellous place in Kom-Ghorab is the Fortress of Babylon. This fortress goes back to the nineteenth century B.C when the pharaoh Sesostris defeated the Babylonians and took the prisoners into Egypt to make slaves of them. But the prisoners rebelled and built fortifications to defend the area where they resided, which was named Fortress of Babylon from then on.
The cave church is a masterpiece with impressive paintings and sculptured statues of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene carved inside the Al Mokattam caves. It can accommodate up to 20,000 people, which makes it the largest church in the middle east.
Prince Taz Palace
Prince Taz Palace was built in the 14th century by a Mamluk to Sultan Al-Nasser Mohamed to honour the marriage of his daughter Al-Zahraa to Prince Taz. The Palace was built in the Al-Darb El-Ahmar area, and it has been renovated multiple times. It became a girls school in the 19th century; however, it currently presents several artistic workshops, including Chanting, acting, storytelling, and theatre workshops
Bayt Al-Suhaymi is one of the most beautiful examples of Cairo’s domestic architecture. It is located in Al-Moez Street, and consists of multiple buildings joined together with its facades plotted with wonderful wooden mashrabiyyas. In addition to the mesmerising architecture, you can also enjoy the concerts that are regularly held there.
Also in Al-Moez Street, Bab Zuweila is one of three remaining gates in the walls of the Old City of Cairo. The place is famous for the incident when Qutuz hanged the heads of the messengers sent to him by Jenkiz Khan. The view from the top is amazing; you can see almost all of Cairo. Another interesting thing to do while in the area is to visit the Mosque of al-Muayyad, which is right next to Bab Zuweila. The Mosque started as a prison until one of the prisoners bought it and turned it into a mosque.
The Serapeum of Saqqara
The step pyramid isn’t the only thing to see in the Saqqara area. The Serapeum is a series of underground galleries in which the Apis Bulls were buried from the Eighteenth Dynasty. The Apis Bull was considered an incarnation of the god Ptah, one of the most important gods of Memphis, and as such, there was only ever one Apis Bull at a time. When it died, it was buried with full honours in stone tombs weighing thousands of kilograms.