This is a somewhat sanitized version of what began as an informal, and illegal, used-book market around the fence of the historic (and now very much reduced) Azbekeya gardens. After years of back and forth with the authorities, it was finally moved -- not entirely willingly -- to its current location in lines of uniform and rather soulless metal kiosks. Getting there can be a bit of an adventure, but well worth it if you want to see a downmarket part of Cairo while picking through a vast collection of books that range from discarded medical texts to moth-eaten leather-bound Rabelais. Bargaining can be pretty tough here, but you should generally see a drop in the asking price of around a quarter to a third.
The best way to get here is to take a cab to Midan Opera in downtown (make it clear that you do not want the place of the same name in Zamalek), and walk over to the western entrance of the Azbekeya Metro station. Walk through the station and out the other side. The entrance to the book section of the market, if you're standing with your back to the direction from which you've come, is in front of you and to the left. Open daily late morning till evening; fewer dealers on Sunday and Friday than during the rest of the week.
- © Frommer's 2013
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