Cairo

Destination Type : History & Culture

City : Africa Cairo

Etymology

Egyptians often refer to Cairo as Maṣr (IPA: [mɑsˤɾ]; Egyptian Arabic: مَصر‎), the Egyptian Arabic name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city’s importance for the country. Its official name al-Qāhirah  (Arabic: القاهرة‎) means “the Vanquisher” or “the Conqueror”, supposedly due to the fact that the planet Mars, an-Najm al-Qāhir (Arabic: النجم القاهر‎, “the Conquering Star”), was rising at the time when the city was founded,possibly also in reference to the much awaited arrival of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu’izz who reached Cairo in 973 from Mahdia, the old Fatimid capital.The location of the ancient city of Heliopolis is the suburb of Ain Shams (Arabic: عين شمس‎, “Eye of the Sun”).

Cultural Tourism

Cairo Opera House

President Mubarak inaugurated the new Cairo Opera House of the Egyptian National Cultural Centres on 10 October 1988, 17 years after the Royal Opera House had been destroyed by fire. The National Cultural Centre was built with the help of JICA, the Japan International Co-operation Agency and stands as a prominent feature for the Japanese-Egyptian co-operation and the friendship between the two nations.

Khedivial Opera House

The Khedivial Opera House, or Royal Opera House, was the original opera house in Cairo. It was dedicated on 1 November 1869 and burned down on 28 October 1971. After the original opera house was destroyed, Cairo was without an opera house for nearly two decades until the opening of the new Cairo Opera House in 1988.

Cairo International Film Festival

Cairo held its first international film festival 16 August 1976, when the first Cairo International Film Festival was launched by the Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics, headed by Kamal El-Mallakh. The Association ran the festival for seven years until 1983.

This achievement lead to the President of the Festival again contacting the FIAPF with the request that a competition should be included at the 1991 Festival. The request was granted.

In 1998, the Festival took place under the presidency of one of Egypt’s leading actors, Hussein Fahmy, who was appointed by the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, after the death of Saad El-Din Wahba. Four years later, the journalist and writer Cherif El-Shoubashy became president.

 Cairo Geniza

The Cairo Geniza is an accumulation of almost 200,000 Jewish manuscripts that were found in the genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue (built 882) of Fustat, Egypt (now Old Cairo), the Basatin cemetery east of Old Cairo, and a number of old documents that were bought in Cairo in the later 19th century. These documents were written from about 870 to 1880 AD and have been archived in various American and European libraries. The Taylor-Schechter collection in the University of Cambridge runs to 140,000 manuscripts, a further 40,000 manuscripts are at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

 Religion

Most residents are Sunni Muslim, while the rest of the population is mostly Christian. Al-Azhar University, based in Cairo, is considered the leading authority of Sunni Islam worldwide. Most Christians are Coptic Orthodox. Until his death in March 2012, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria was the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, followed by Pope Tawadros II who became Pope on 18 November 2012, whose residence is in Cairo. Cairo has several synagogues, but few Jews remain after Israel was established and the subsequent exodus, largely due to state sponsored discrimination. Tension between members of different religions has increased recently

History Tourism

Tahrir Square

Tahrir Square was founded during the mid 19th century with the establishment of modern downtown Cairo. It was first named Ismailia Square, after the 19th-century ruler Khedive Ismail, who commissioned the new downtown district’s ‘Paris on the Nile’ design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 the square became widely known as Tahrir (Liberation) Square, though it was not officially renamed as such until after the 1952 Revolution which eliminated the monarchy. Several notable buildings surround the square including, the American University in Cairo’s downtown campus, the Mogamma governmental administrative Building, the headquarters of the Arab League, the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, and the Egyptian Museum. Being at the heart of Cairo, the square witnessed several major protests over the years. However, the most notable event in the square was being the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution against former president Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian Museum

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, is home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. It has 136,000 items on display, with many more hundreds of thousands in its basement storerooms. Among its most famous collections on display are the finds from the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Cairo Tower

 The Cairo Tower is a free-standing tower with a revolving restaurant at the top. It provides a bird’s eye view of Cairo to the restaurant patrons. It stands in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the Nile River, in the city centre. At 187 metres (614 feet), it is 44 metres (144 feet) higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands some 15 kilometres (9 miles) to the southwest.

Old Cairo

 This area of Cairo is so-named as it contains the remains of the ancient Roman fortress of Babylon and also overlaps the original site of Fustat, the first Arab settlement in Egypt (7th century AD) and the predecessor of later Cairo. The area includes the Coptic Cairo, which holds a high concentration of old Christian churches such as the Hanging Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, and other Christian or Coptic buildings, most of which are located over the site of the ancient Roman fortress. It is also the location of the Coptic Museum, which showcases the history of Coptic art from Greco-Roman to Islamic times, and of the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest and best-known synagogue in Cairo, where the important collection of Geniza documents were discovered in the 19th century. To the north of this Coptic enclave is the Amr ibn al-‘As Mosque, the first mosque in Egypt and the most important religious center of what was formerly Fustat, founded in 642 AD right after the Arab conquest but rebuilt many times since.