Facts about Cairo

We found 16 facts about Cairo

The city of a thousand minarets

Settlements in the area around today’s Cairo existed over five thousand years ago. Over the years, the city’s surroundings passed from hand to hand—from Pharaohs, through the Roman Empire, and many Arab dynasties, to the British. In 1517, the city fell under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, has been briefly occupied by the French since 1798, and returned to the Ottomans in 1804. Although the Turks officially ruled over Egypt until 1914, the country fell under the influence of Great Britain. Since then, Cairo has developed its luxury districts, utility buildings, and railway networks.

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the country.
Over 10 million people inhabit Cairo and approximately 21,3 million live in the metropolitan area. It is the largest agglomeration in Africa.
The capital of Ancient Egypt, Memphis, was located near Cairo.
The city was founded before the 31st century B.C. and was abandoned in the 7th century AD after the Arabic invasion. A new administration center was established in the nearby city of Fustat. After being passed from hand to hand, the city eventually burned down. The order came from the vizier Shawar ibn Mujir al-Sa’di. During the siege by the crusaders under the command of King Amalric I of Jerusalem, he evacuated inhabitants and ordered his men to burn the city completely. Nowadays, the oldest district of Cairo—Old Cairo—is located on the ruins of Fustat.
Cairo was founded in 969 after the conquest of Fustat by the Fatimid Caliphate.
Originally, it was called al-Manṣūriyyah, and was erected northeast of Fustat by order of Fatmid general Al-Qaid Jawhar ibn Abdallah. The construction of a new settlement took about four years, after which it became the new capital of the Fatmid Caliphate. After caliph Al-Mu’izz visited the city, he changed its name to Qāhirat al-Mu’izz. It is where the current name—Cairo—derives from. The Fatmid dynasty descended from the son of Fatma—Muhammad’s daughter—and ruled Egypt until mid-September, 1171.
Cairo is a fast-developing city.
Approximately 20% of the city’s buildings are less than 15 years old.
The Citadel of Cairo, also known as the Citadel of Saladin, is one of the most prominent tourist attractions.
Sultan Saladin (Salah ad-Din) started its construction in 1176 to protect the city from the Crusaders. Finished in 1183, it was the seat of the Egyptian government for 666 years, until 1849. Between 1830 and 1848, an Albanian Ottoman governor, Muhammad Ali of Egypt and the Sudan commissioned the Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha on the site of the Citadel. Nowadays, it is one of the landmarks of Cairo.
Near Cairo lies the city of Giza, mostly known for its pyramid complex, dating back 4,500 years.
Giza is the third largest city in Egypt. It houses the most prominent Egyptian attractions—the Giza Necropolis: the Great Pyramid of Giza, the pyramid of Chephren, the pyramid Menkaure, and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Currently, it is also a construction site for the Great Egyptian Museum. The building was supposed to be commissioned by 2018, but is still under construction. The completion has been delayed until the end of 2022.
Tahrir Square is the main square of Cairo.
It covers about eight square kilometers. In its vicinity, you will find government buildings, the headquarters of the Arab League, the Umar Makram Mosque, the Goethe-Institut, and the Egyptian Museum. The square was the site of many riots, both peaceful and bloody, including the anti-Mubarak Million-Man March in 2011. It also suffered from several bomb attacks by Islamic organizations, carried out in 1993, 1997, and 2005.
The Egyptian Museum is home to about 160,000 exhibits.
It is the oldest archeological museum in the Middle East, in a neoclassical building that opened on November 15th, 1920. Its collection comprises Pharaonic antiquities, where royal mummies, statues of pharaohs and their wives, Egyptian deities, or items found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, including his golden mask, can be admired.
On October 21st, 2007, the bust of Professor Kazimierz Michałowski was unveiled in the gardens of the Egyptian Museum.
He was a prominent Polish Egyptologist, the founder of the Polish school of Mediterranean archeology, the discoverer of the mortuary temple of Totemes III, and the traces of the activity of the Roman Empire in Egypt. He was also a leader of an international committee of experts overseeing the transfer of the temples of Ramesses II because of the risk of flooding by Lake Nasser.
During the anti-presidential riots of 2011, there was a series of break-ins into the Egyptian Museum.
Thieves looted and damaged many of the ancient exhibits.
Throughout its history, the city has fallen victim to the Plague over fifty times.
The outbreaks of the Black Death took place between 1348 and 1517. The initial one was the most severe and claimed the lives of around 200,000 people. According to Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, there were 21,000 deaths a day during the 1348 epidemic.
One of the city’s most popular attractions is the Khan el-Khalili bazaar.
It was established as a trading center in 1382 during the rule of sultan Barquq. Erected at the ruins of the Fatimid mausoleum (Turbat az-Za’faraan) by his Master of Stables, Jaharkas al-Khalili, it has significantly grown over the years to become the most important trading post in the Middle East. It covers 5,000 square meters and is basically a separate district full of shops, stalls, cafes, and restaurants.
The Al-Azhar Mosque is said to be the most renowned educational institution in Sunni Islam.
It is one of the oldest and most important in the Arab world. Its construction began shortly after the Fatimids gained influence, and lasted from April 4th, 970 to June 22nd, 972. At Soon after the building was finished, it housed a madrasa—a Muslim school of theology. It taught Islamic law, philosophy, Arabic grammar, astronomy, logic, and fiqh—Muslim law. During Saladin’s reign, the curriculum was extended to include medicine. After the occupation of Egypt by the Turks, it gained international fame and became the major institution of the science of Sunni Islam. Its rank was raised in 1961 when it was officially recognized as a university. Currently, a number of secular subjects are taught there—economic sciences, medicine, pharmacy, engineering, and agricultural sciences.
Cairo is the 37th most popular tourist destination.
In 2019, it was visited by 6,81 million tourists, more than half of all visitors to Egypt.
The Greater Cairo Area is the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the 6th largest in the world.
It comprises Cairo, Giza, Heluan, Imbaba, and Shubrā al-Khaimah. Roughly 60% of all Egypt’s illegally constructed buildings are in the Greater Cairo Area.
The Cairo Metro has three operational lines.
It was the first rapid transit system in the Arab world. Construction plans date back to the 1930s, but it was not until 1982 that the construction could be started. The first line was launched in 1987, and the last in 2012. The metro is constantly being expanded. Further expansion plans include another three lines scheduled to be launched by 2032. Such investment is very expensive, so it is possible that the completion date will be postponed for several years.
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