Islamic Cairo – City of A Thousand Minarets

Saladin Citadel (built 1176-1183):

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Mural of Mohammad Ali Pasha

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Citadel

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View of the city of Cairo

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Courtyard

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Mohammad Ali Pasha Mosque (built 1828-1848 AD):

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The view of the Mohammad Ali Mosque

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Mohammad Ali Mosque on the left with the green dome of Al-Nasir Mohammad Qala’un Mosque

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Courtyard inside the mosque. The clock tower (under renovation) was a gift from the King of France.

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Inlay work inside the dome.

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Pulpit – this mosque has two pulpits.

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Some intricate inlay work on the ceilings and arches

 

Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan (built 1356-1359).

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The open courtyard next to the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hasan & Al-Rifa’i Mosques

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Entrance to the courtyard of the mosque

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Area to wash before praying

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The raised area to make the call to prayers

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Pulpit

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Al-Rifa’i Mosque (built first in 1869 and then in 1912).

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The minaret of the Al-Rifa’i Mosque

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View of the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hasan from the entrance of the Al-Ria’i Mosque

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Inlay work inside the dome at the entrance

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Tomb of the Shah of Iran Mohammad Raza Pahalvi

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Entrance to the tomb of King Farouk of Egypt

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The actual prayer area

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Artwork on the walls

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Pulpit

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Traveling the Timeline of the Three Religions – Islam, Christianity & Judiasm

Saw the first mosque built in Africa. Unfortunately not from the inside due to ongoing renovations (and no pictures). Built in 642 AD by none other than Amr ibn al-A’as, a contemporary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a great general of his time. None of the original structure remains due to renovations and reconstructions. Hoping to visit during our next trip to Egypt. Moving on, visited the Saint Virgin Mary’s Church (or the Hanging Church), one of the oldest church in Egypt and what an artistic and beautiful building from the inside.

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St. Virgin Mary’s Church – also known as the Hanging Church, dates back from the 3rd century AD.

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It is called the “Hanging” Church because it is built on the gates of the Fortress of Babylon. Nothing except a small section of the original fortress remains.

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The only remaining structure of the Babylon Fortress.

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The remaining section of the Babylon Fortress with the St. Virgin Mary’s Church spires in the background.

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Coptic Museum

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Was lucky enough to witness a Sunday service – listening to one in Arabic was amazing.

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Connected to the Church from an underground alleyway (reminds one of the description of Palestine in Agatha Christie novels), is the oldest Synagogue in Egypt, Ben Ezra Synagogue.

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A bookshop in the underground alleyway connecting the Hanging Church to the Ben Ezra Synagogue. Our guide Ahmed Farahat is also in the picture.

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Nunnery entrance from the alleyway.

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Map marking the journey of Mary from Jerusalem to Asyut, Egypt and back to Bethelem.

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Entrance of Church of St. George is also through the alleyway. The Church is undergoing a complete renovation.

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Inside it was so quiet, peaceful and calm, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle outside. Just sat there absorbing the atmosphere (photography is not allowed inside).

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Literally moved back in time (newest to oldest): Islam –>Christianity–>Judaism. What a historical journey.

Nine Pyramids, Cheops, the Sphinx, Museum and the Wonders of the Ancient World

Egypt was always on my itinerary – always. I read Elizabeth Peters and her heroine, Peabody made me fall in love with everything that is ‘ancient Egypt’. I grew out of Peters but the love remained. A love that was attained in the past few days – although only a bit.

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Pyramid of Khafre

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Pyramids of Khufu (left, also known as the Great Pyramid of Giza) and Khafre (right). Although Pyramid of Khafre seems to be taller, it is actually built on slightly higher ground giving it that illusion.

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The smaller pyramids of the queens

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Pyramid of Menkaure with the smaller pyramids for the queens on the right

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So how does a four day trip to Cairo look like? How does one experience thousands of years old civilization and its remnants in just four days?

One thing is for sure, it is not enough. It is but a tasting, an appetizer course, of what may come later.

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Entrance to one of the three pyramids for the queens (behind the Great Pyramid of Giza).

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Some instructions written but not necessarily followed.

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Tour on horseback

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A solitary horse cart and its driver. It almost seemed we were back in time by few decades.

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At least someone was enjoying the sun

 

So the four days were spent as follows – three days with Memphis Tour doing day trips to the various sights and one day with family and visiting one of many new and upcoming malls in Cairo.

And the first trip, of course, to The Pyramids of Giza, The Sphinx (it’s right there), and the Egyptian Museum (Pharaoh Tutankhamen exhibit is not to be missed).

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The mummification chambers

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The sun is brutal, the weather hot and the desert sand does not help but the jaw dropping wonder when looking at the Pyramids the first time – worth every ounce of effort and discomfort. There are somethings that pictures can’t capture, and the words cannot describe – they must be seen and felt. The grandeur, the brains, the mathematical genius, people who built it and died in the process, the moving of the humongous pieces of granite and alabaster to built these structures, the vanity of the powerful, the helplessness of the same powerful in the face of death, the rise and fall of empires – all thoughts and feelings that pass through the mind when the structures first come into view. I don’t believe the awe will lessen at the second or any subsequent viewings.

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Ramses II

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Pharaoh Khafre

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Outer tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun

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Chariot found in the burial chamber of King Tut.

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Canopic jars found in King Tut’s tomb

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