LINING THE BANKS of the Nile River, Cairo is a fusion of ancient. Churches are built atop Roman ruins and skyscrapers rise behind medieval monuments. Egypt’s capital is best known for preserving the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but the city contains infinite treasures beyond the Pyramids of Giza.
Discover early Christian history in Coptic Cairo, browse the world’s largest collection of pharaonic antiquities, and sip on Egyptian-style coffee in the bustling Khan El-Khalili souk. While ancient temples and intricate tombs await farther south in Luxor and Aswan, here’s why you should pause in Cairo before your journey onward.
Wind down with a stop at Al-Azhar Park, Cairo’s greenest urban attraction. The gated park was originally a landfill, and was transformed into a park in 2005 under an initiative by Agha Khan IV, the 49th Imam of Nizari Ismailism. Sprawling over 74 acres of central city land, it is a veritable oasis among the urban hustle of Cairo.
Bordered by a 12th-century wall from the Ayyubid Dynasty, the gardens in the park follow traditional Islamic architecture, with prominent waterways and walkways gently dividing the green space into cozier enclaves. A variety of food courts and restaurants overlook wide views of the city, including the historic Mosque of Muhammad Ali on the western horizon. You’ll find the park filled with yoga classes, couples sitting by fish ponds, and children playing by the fountains. Visit an hour before sunset to bask in the golden light and watch the city transform.
Read more at the source: National Geographic: Cairo beyond the pyramids
For me, the absolute best part of Cairo was old Cairo — full of the most tasteful —— Islamic architecture — the real gem of the city