Cairo through a Different Lens

Egypt has always been known for its deserts, pyramids, mummies, temples, archaeological sites and coasts. However, in the capital city of Cairo there are a few lesser heard of and therefore lesser travelled to places for those who choose to take the road less travelled by. These places in Cairo carry as much historical significance as Egypt’s other popular destinations and are certainly worth visiting.

Monastery of Saint Simon

The monastery has one of the largest churches in the Middle East. This church belongs to the Zabbaleen community (garbage collectors) who still follow Coptic beliefs. The Monastery of Saint Simon has 20,000 seats around a central pulpit.

Monastery of Saint SimonIn the vicinity:

There are three more churches worth visiting.

Al-Andalus Garden

Al-Andalus is a well maintained garden with Andalusian-style architecture and amazing views of Nile. It is a serene oasis hidden behind high walls in the bustling city of Cairo.

AlAndalus GardenLet’s have a bite of history:

  • It was built by Zulfugar Pasha in 1935 as a present to his wife.
  • Originally, it was designed to be included in the royal mansion of Khedive Ismail.

A peek at its architecture:

  • Its Andalusian style is influenced by designs from Moorish Spain.
  • The beautiful greenery is complemented by vivid mosaic benches around a massive fountain.
  • Various impressive sculptures of Pharaohs, lions, and the renowned Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawky (Prince of Poets) are sure to grab anyone’s attention.

How to spot this hidden gem?

This is located across the Sofitel Hotel & Cairo Tower street entrance.

The Cairo Genizah

Local legend:

The Ben Ezra synagogue was built in al-Fustat (today a part of Old Cairo) in 882 by Abraham Ibn Ezra of Jerusalem. The synagogue was constructed at the exact location where baby Moses was found.

The Cairo GenizahInteresting discovery:

In the depository or genizah of this synagogue approx. 280,000 Jewish manuscript fragments were discovered. These ancient documents are an invaluable source of information of Jewish life in Cairo.

Agricultural Museum of Cairo

In its glorious part, Egypt used to be the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. So an agricultural museum (it is much more than just an agricultural museum) in Cairo is no surprise.

Agricultural Museum of CairoHistory behind it:

It was the first agricultural museum in the world to be established in 1930. The founders wanted it to be a grand project and therefore it was constructed as a part of the palace of Princess Fatima.

A glimpse into the museum

  • The gardened grounds around it stretch as much as 100 thousand sq. meters and the museum building covers another 20 thousand sq. meters.
  • It has a total of ten halls each devoted to different themes.
  • One of the halls is called “the museum of bread” and is completely dedicated to different types of bread, different types of techniques used for baking, different machines used in baking, etc.
  • Another hall is called “Scientific Collection Hall” that is dedicated to anatomical models, taxidermy, insect collections, anatomy specimens and general oddities.
  • There has been almost no change in the museum since 1930s.

El Sawy Culture Wheel

It’s a private cultural center founded in 2003 by Mohamed El-Sawy in memory of his father, Abel Moneim El-Sawy who was a renowned writer in Egypt.

El Sawy Culture WheelWhat does it has to offer?

It is a perfect place to go for art and culture lovers. Every day there are seminars, talks and performances held in all fields of art ranging from dance and music to puppetry. You can enjoy a number of things such as musical concerts sculpture and painting exhibitions, dance and puppet performances. Also, there are a lot of other activities going on in the centre where you can engage well as a number of other activities which are as interesting as they are multifarious.

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