Saturday, January 29, 2011

Photo Nostalgia: Cairo, 2007 (part 1)

Given the ongoing developments in the Middle East, my mind has been brought back again and again this week to my stay in Cairo. The Egyptian capital bookended my time in "mainland" Egypt, which was largely spent in Luxor, far to the south. What follows is the first part of my time in Cairo; the pyramids will be the subject of a subsequent post.
Sunday morning in Coptic Cairo, the oldest part of a very old city. These steps lead not to a "Coptic" church, but to the Greek Orthodox church. Most of the Coptic churches were actually below ground in submerged alleyways.

The cemetery in Coptic Cairo

An ancient synagogue in Coptic Cairo (note the security cameras)

Entrance to the subterranean St. Sergius Church, which is built over the traditional site of the Holy Family's stay in Egypt.

Coptic Cairo (I can't remember the building in the background... possibly the Coptic Museum but my memory fails me)

The Hanging Church, one of the most famous places in Cairo

Midan Tahrir [Tahrir Square], which has been the main sight of protests in 2011

The pink facade of the Egyptian Museum; I was very pleased to read that young men linked arms around the museum to spare its contents from rioting [it's extremely close to Midan Tahrir]

A royal mummy (note - you have to pay more than the admission price itself just to enter the mummy room... about US$20. It's worth it.)

The main hall of the museum (note - they have metal detectors at the front, and you're not supposed to bring in cameras; I presented my underwater camera from my time in Sinai as my only camera and they let me through... dishonest, undoubtedly)

A river that needs no introduction, from the Corniche alongside

Qasr al Baron in the fashionable suburb of Heliopolis, easily one of the weirdest buildings in the Middle East (it resembles Cambodia's Ankor Wat more than anything else).

The landmark Catholic church in Heliopolis, dominating an intersection.

The staple of Egypt, kushari (rice, lentils, macaroni, chickpeas, and an Egyptian version of "salsa"). Most places sell heaping quantities for less than US$1.

Khan el-Khalili in Islamic Cairo, one of the most famous souqs in the world.

El Fishawy's coffeehouse (very famous)

My host in Cairo was Ken from Pittsburgh; we met in Jerusalem, where he was on vacation from his English teaching job in Cairo. We're at El Fishawy's. Please forgive the sweat stain on my shirt - it was only about 100 degrees.

Islamic Cairo (possibly al-Muizz Street, one of the oldest streets in Cairo, and therefore, the world)

Al-Azhar Mosque, home to one of the 2 oldest universities in the world (10th century)

I was the only tourist present, so I got a personal tour guide (baksheesh gets you everything). This is the courtyard of Al-Azhar.

The distinctive double-finial minaret, Qansah al-Ghuri

Many worshippers rest, apparently to beat the heat in between calls to prayer.

I would be allowed the privilege to go up one of the minarets (it cost me a pretty penny by Egyptian standards).

But the views over Islamic Cairo were worth it (note the Citadel at left).



From there I took a long taxi ride up to the Citadel, dominated by the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha.

After the Pyramids and Egyptian Museum, this might be the most popular attraction in Cairo (for foreigners and Egyptians alike).

After a couple of days in Cairo, I still hadn't seen the Pyramids. My first hazy glimpse of them was from atop the Citadel. I tortured my camera's zoom lens to try and pick up the image of the silhouette.

Inside the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha.

A crowd of tourists next to the minbar (Muslim pulpit).

The courtyard of the mosque.
To be continued...

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