Cairo contains worlds within worlds, full of charm and contradictions. It is a maddening city with its incessant crowds, noise and pollution. Yet, it beckons you to linger and explore the various districts - each a different piece of the puzzle, evoking a fragment of Cairo's rich 7000 year history. A walk down any street in Cairo is a feast for the senses, and exploring beyond the popular districts below will not fail to fascinate.
The current heart of Cairo, the downtown region roughly centered on Midan Tahrir, stretches east to Ramses Station and south to Garden City. It is relatively young, as only in the mid 1800s was this area west of Ezbekiya to the Nile drained and developed....
Interesting Facts About Cairo:
2. Fun fact: The Arabic name for Cairo is al-Qahirah, which means "the conqueror," "the vanquisher" or "the victorious." Most Egyptians call Cairo "Masr", the Arabic for Egypt. Cairo is also called the City of 1000 Minarets, and Umm al-Dounia, the "Mother of the World."
3. Useful fact: The currency is the Egyptian Pound (LE, or EGP), and electricity runs at 220 volts, 50 Hz, with standard two-pin plugs.
4. Weird fact: The Holy Family are said to have sheltered at the site of Abu Serga Church after they fled to Egypt.
5. Random fact: There are believed to be over 4.5 million cars in Cairo.
6. Fun fact: Cairo is home to the only remaining ancient wonder of the world. Yep, one of those big stone Toblerone-shaped things.
7. Useful fact: The time zone in Cairo is GMT+2; the country dialling code is +20, and the area code is 02 (drop the 0 if calling from abroad).
8. Interesting fact: Cairo was founded in 969 by the Fatimid Caliphate from Tunisia, though there were earlier Islamic, Byzantine, Roman, Persian and Pharaonic settlements, including the legendary Memphis.
9. Weird fact: If you live in Cairo you probably support either al-Ahly or Zamalek football club. Their rivalry is intense, yet they share the same stadium!
10. Interesting fact: Cairo hosts one of the oldest universities in the world, al-Azhar University, founded in 975 CE. And Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Cairo in 1882.
11. Random fact: Sunday is the first day of week; the weekend is Friday and Saturday.
12. Fun fact: The Nile runs through Cairo, and there are two large islands in the middle of the city.
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Things to Do
It's easy to be dwarfed by the immense Giza Pyramids, guarded by the Sphinx and a multitude of camel drivers. Visit the more-recently-discovered pharaohs' cedarwood boat on which the kings' bodies were transported down the Nile. In Islamic Cairo, take a peaceful evening stroll along Al-Muezz el-Din Allah street to absorb intricate 15th-century spot-lit mosques...