Theme Week Egypt – Cairo

Thursday, 25 May 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  12 minutes

View from Cairo Tower © Raduasandei

View from Cairo Tower © Raduasandei

Cairo is the capital and largest city of Egypt. With well over 20.5 Million inhabitants, the city’s metropolitan area is the largest in the Middle East and the Arab world, and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by Jawhar al-Siqilli (“the Sicilian”) of the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a center of the region’s political and cultural life, and is nicknamed “the city of a thousand minarets” for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, as well as the world’s second-oldest institution of higher learning, Al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city; the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.

Cairo is located in northern Egypt, known as Lower Egypt, 165 kilometres (100 mi) south of the Mediterranean Sea and 120 kilometres (75 mi) west of the Gulf of Suez and Suez Canal. The city is along the Nile River, immediately south of the point where the river leaves its desert-bound valley and branches into the low-lying Nile Delta region. Although the Cairo metropolis extends away from the Nile in all directions, the city of Cairo resides only on the east bank of the river and two islands within it on a total area of 453 square kilometres (175 sq mi). Until the mid-19th century, when the river was tamed by dams, levees, and other controls, the Nile in the vicinity of Cairo was highly susceptible to changes in course and surface level. Over the years, the Nile gradually shifted westward, providing the site between the eastern edge of the river and the Mokattam highlands on which the city now stands. The land on which Cairo was established in 969 (present-day Islamic Cairo) was located underwater just over three hundred years earlier, when Fustat was first built. Low periods of the Nile during the 11th century continued to add to the landscape of Cairo; a new island, known as Geziret al-Fil, first appeared in 1174, but eventually became connected to the mainland. Today, the site of Geziret al-Fil is occupied by the Shubra district. The low periods created another island at the turn of the 14th century that now composes Zamalek and Gezira. Land reclamation efforts by the Mamluks and Ottomans further contributed to expansion on the east bank of the river. Because of the Nile’s movement, the newer parts of the city—Garden City, Downtown Cairo, and Zamalek—are located closest to the riverbank. The areas, which are home to most of Cairo’s embassies, are surrounded on the north, east, and south by the older parts of the city. Old Cairo, located south of the centre, holds the remnants of Fustat and the heart of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, Coptic Cairo. The Boulaq district, which lies in the northern part of the city, was born out of a major 16th-century port and is now a major industrial centre. The Citadel is located east of the city centre around Islamic Cairo, which dates back to the Fatimid era and the foundation of Cairo. While western Cairo is dominated by wide boulevards, open spaces, and modern architecture of European influence, the eastern half, having grown haphazardly over the centuries, is dominated by small lanes, crowded tenements, and Islamic architecture. Northern and extreme eastern parts of Cairo, which include satellite towns like 6th of October, are among the most recent additions to the city, as they developed in the late-20th and early-21st centuries to accommodate the city’s rapid growth. The western bank of the Nile is commonly included within the urban area of Cairo, but it composes the city of Giza and the Giza Governorate. Giza has also undergone significant expansion over recent years, and today the city, although still a suburb of Cairo, has a population of 2.7 million. The Cairo Governorate was just north of the Helwan Governorate from 2008 when some Cairo’s southern districts, including Maadi and New Cairo, were split off and annexed into the new governorate, to 2011 when the Helwan Governorate was reincorporated into the Cairo Governorate. Greater Cairo has long been the hub of education and educational services for Egypt and the region. Today, Greater Cairo is the centre for many government offices governing the Egyptian educational system, has the largest number of educational schools, and higher learning institutes among other cities and governorates of Egypt.

View from Cairo Tower © Raduasandei Muizz Street in Islamic Cairo (UNESCO World Heritage) © flickr.com - Joonas Plaan/cc-by-2.0 Tahrir Square in the early morning © Frank Schulenburg/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ramses Railway Station © Osama Khalil/cc-by-sa-4.0 Nile River © Jawed/cc-by-sa-3.0 National Bank of Egypt © Faris knight/cc-by-sa-3.0 Garden City - Grand Nile Tower Hotel from the Nile © Daniel Mayer/cc-by-sa-4.0 Cairo Tower on the Nile © Kormoran/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Muizz Street in Islamic Cairo (UNESCO World Heritage) © flickr.com - Joonas Plaan/cc-by-2.0
President Mubarak inaugurated the new Cairo Opera House of the Egyptian National Cultural Centres on 10 October 1988, 17 years after the Royal Opera House had been destroyed by fire. The National Cultural Centre was built with the help of JICA, the Japan International Co-operation Agency and stands as a prominent feature for the Japanese-Egyptian co-operation and the friendship between these two nations. The Khedivial Opera House or Royal Opera House was the original opera house in Cairo, Egypt. It was dedicated on 1 November 1869 and burned down on 28 October 1971. After the original opera house was destroyed, Cairo was without an opera house for nearly two decades until the opening of the new Cairo Opera House in 1988. Egypt’s love of the arts in general can be traced back to the rich heritage bequeathed by the ancient Egyptians. In modern times, Egypt has enjoyed a strong cinematic tradition since the art of film making was first developed, early in the 20th century. A natural progression from the active theatre scene of the time, cinema rapidly evolved into a vast motion picture industry. This together with the much older music tradition, raised Egypt to become a center for motion picture production in the Middle East and the cultural capital of the Arab world. Egypt has also been a fount of Arabic literature, producing some of the 20th century’s greatest Arab writers such as Taha Hussein and Tawfiq al-Hakim to Nobel Laureate, novelist Naguib Mahfouz. Each of them has written for the cinema. With these credentials, it was clear that Cairo should aim to hold an international film festival. This dream came true on Monday 16 August 1976, when the first Cairo International Film Festival was launched by the Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics, headed by Kamal El-Mallakh. The Association ran the festival for seven years until 1983.

Tahrir Square was founded during the mid 19th century with the establishment of modern downtown Cairo. It was first named Ismailia Square, after the 19th-century ruler Khedive Ismail, who commissioned the new downtown district’s ‘Paris on the Nile’ design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 the square became widely known as Tahrir (Liberation) Square, though it was not officially renamed as such until after the 1952 Revolution which eliminated the monarchy. Several notable buildings surround the square including, the American University in Cairo‘s downtown campus, the Mogamma governmental administrative building, the headquarters of the Arab League, the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, and the Egyptian Museum. Being at the heart of Cairo, the square witnessed several major protests over the years. The Cairo Tower is a free-standing tower with a revolving restaurant at the top. It provides a bird’s eye view of Cairo to the restaurant patrons. It stands in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the Nile River, in the city centre. At 187 metres (614 feet), it is 43 metres (141 feet) higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands some 15 kilometres (9 miles) to the southwest.

The Citadel is a fortified enclosure begun by Salah al-Din in 1176 AD on an outcrop of the Muqattam Hills as part of a large defensive system to protect both Cairo to the north and Fustat to the southwest. It was the center of Egyptian government and residence of its rulers until 1874, when Khedive Isma’il moved to Abdeen Palace. It is still occupied by the military today, but is now open as a tourist attraction comprising, notably, the National Military Museum, the 14th century Mosque of al-Nasir Muhammad, and the 19th century Mosque of Muhammad Ali which commands a dominant position on Cairo’s skyline. Khan el-Khalili is an ancient bazaar, or marketplace adjacent to the Al-Hussein Mosque. It dates back to 1385, when Amir Jarkas el-Khalili built a large caravanserai, or khan. (A caravanserai is a hotel for traders, and usually the focal point for any surrounding area.) This original carvanserai building was demolished by Sultan al-Ghauri, who rebuilt it as a new commercial complex in the early 16th century, forming the basis for the network of souqs existing today. Many medieval elements remain today, including the ornate Mamluk-style gateways. Today, the Khan el-Khalili is a major tourist attraction and popular stop for tour groups.

Cairo was ranked as the “world’s most 24-hour city” in a 2011 study conducted by the social networking site Badoo, placing it well ahead of other famous big cities such as New York, London or Paris. The study’s rankings were determined by measuring the amount of online activity at night versus during the day and by comparing peak-times for such activity in cities across the world. Cairo’s highly nocturnal lifestyle is attributed not only to young people in nightclubs but also to the importance of cafés, which remain very active at night as social gathering places to smoke shisha, and even to the late-night public activeness of families with children. Cairo is also one of few cities in the Muslim world to have several casinos.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on LonelyPlanet.com – Cairo, Grand Nile Tower Hotel, Wikitravel Cairo, Wikivoyage Cairo and Wikipedia Cairo. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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