NileGuide Expert Says:
The Friday Market is one of the most authentic and intoxicating bizarres in the whole of Egypt
NileGuide Expert tip:
Even if you get to the Friday Market early you will still be caught up in the crowds, so be prepared
Note: In June 2010 the Friday Market burned down when a car fell off the overpass and caught fire. The government wants to move the market to the outskirts of the city, but the traders are resisting. We'll update you as more information becomes available.
In October 2010 al-Masry al-Youm reported that bulldozers were waiting to demolish the remnants of the Friday Market, and that it will be moved to 15th May City, but as yet there is no infrastructure in place there.
The Friday Market, known to locals as Souq al-Goma'a, takes place each Friday underneath the autostrade just south of the Citadel
, between the southern City of the Dead
and a poor area of Cairo known as Khalifa. It's arguably the largest market in Cairo, and is not in any way touristy.
The Friday Market is where tens of thousands of Cairo's poorer residents (and the plain curious) go to buy and sell pretty much anything you can think of. It's a crazy riot of colour and sound, where the swirling crowds will dictate your passage through the market, and you occasionally have to fight just to stay on your feet!
As well as food, clothing and household appliances, at the Friday Market you can find stalls selling pets such as fish, hawks, snakes and hedgehogs, row upon row of cages selling live pigeons and chickens, bikes, mobile phones, genuine antiques… you name it! There are also stalls selling things like dead computer monitors, broken cassette tapes, and rusty nuts and bolts! It looks like junk, but people find a use for it!
Visiting the Friday Market is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in Cairo, though it's not for everyone. You must be prepared for huge, disorienting crowds, and sights that might make you feel uncomfortable (especially the animals). But it's a real window into Egyptian culture, and a truly unique experience.
Visitors to the Friday Market should dress conservatively, and it's best for women to go accompanied by a man. You should also pay close attention to your possessions, because Souq al-Goma'a has developed a reputation recently as home to a number of pickpockets.