25 Interesting Facts About Cairo - City of a Thousand Minarets

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Cairo city offers an easygoing prehistoric vibe but also has a cheerful & bright character. The city is popularly known as 'The City of a Thousand Minarets' due to the predominance of Islamic architecture, as Islam is the dominant religion in Cairo. This city exhibits different cultures and social classes in a hearty and reasonable environment. 

Here are 25 intriguing facts about the City of Cairo that express the persona of this city.

1. Capital & Largest City of Egypt

Cairo city is the largest city in the Arab World and the Middle East. This capital city is situated in northern Egypt, called Lower Egypt. It is 120 kms west of the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal and 165 kms south of the Mediterranean Sea. It is linked with ancient Egypt because the ancient city of Memphis and the popular Giza pyramid are nestled in its geographical limits.

2. The Longest River in the world - River Nile flows through Cairo

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The Nile River is the longest in the world. Though, this is questioned by research that suggests Amazon is slightly longer than the Nile. However, it was historically regarded as the world's longest river and still Africa's longest river. The Nile flows through Cairo. The city is on the east bank of this river and embraces two islands, Gezira and Roda Island, nestled within the river. In Egypt, all aspects of life are dependent on the Nile.

3. Cairo is believed to be the Genesis of Mankind

The name 'Cairo' can be interpreted as the 'one who won'. The locals refer to Cairo as Umm al Dunya, which means 'Mother of the world’. It is said to place it ahead of other cities' ancient achievements with respect to the ancient achievements of the city. The historians believe that Cairo and the larger Egypt are the geneses of civilization based on archaeological evidence. The ancient civilization, buildings, artefacts, and way of life in this city, when observed from a modern-day point of view, present people as highly progressive with respect to time.

4. Second Most Populous Urban Agglomeration in Africa

The population of Cairo increased briskly during the war years. It reached around 2 million by the upsurge of World War II in 1939. From that time onwards, Cairo is continuously flourishing concerning both population and development. As per reports of Cairo Population 2021, the population of the Greater Cairo metropolitan area is 21.3 million. It is the city with the largest population in the Arab world and the second most populous city in Africa.

5. Cairo sustains the only remaining Ancient Wonder of the world

The Pyramids Of Giza In Cairo
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From all of the ancient seven wonders of the world, namely the Statue of Zeus at Olympia in Greece, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria, only the Great Pyramid of Giza still exists in the Cairo city. Notably, the pyramid was built for King Khufu as a tomb. All aspect of this pyramid, such as its size, construction, and engineering, is a wonder to behold.

6. Al-Azhar Mosque is the foremost Mosque built in Cairo

A View of The Islamic Cairo
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Situated in Islamic Cairo, Al-Azhar Mosque is an Egyptian mosque that was the first mosque built in Cairo. Its construction was ordered by Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah of the Fatimid dynasty in 970 for the newly formed capital city. The Al- Azhar mosque is the heart of the Fatimid city, i.e., the Islamic Cairo. Since the establishment of this mosque, Cairo city got the title of 'the City of a Thousand Minarets'. This mosque exhibits various architectural styles formed over the years due to its extensions.

7. Cairo embraces one of the tallest structures made by human hands

The still-existing Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the tallest structures built by human hands, with a height of 146.7 meters (481 ft.). The pyramids are nestled in the Giza Necropolis along with two other notable pyramids. The construction of this pyramid took about 20 years, and more than two million blocks of stone were used for this. It enjoyed the title of the tallest structure in the world created by human hands until 1311 when the construction of Lincoln Cathedral (525 ft.) was completed. It enjoyed this status for more than 3,500 years.

8. Cairo has one of the Oldest Universities in the world - the Al-Azhar University

Al-Azhar University is the second-largest higher learning institution in the world. It was established in 975 AD, and at that time, Al-Azhar University was the only one providing educational degrees in Egypt. Students need to enrol themselves here to acquire a degree in Islamic Law or other courses. It is the only University in Egypt that is functional like a modern university in the present world. This university is still flourishing and offers various UG, PG, and graduate study programs.

9. The Oldest Structure in Cairo is the Babylon Fortress

Babylon Fortress in Cairo
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The foundation of Cairo city can be ascertained back to the first millennium settlements, such as Babylon. Notably, Babylon is an ancient citadel built around 30 BC after the arrival of emperor Augustus in Egypt. However, it is believed that the original Babylon Fortress was constructed by the Persians during the 6th century BC. It is situated in the middle of the Coptic Orthodox community in old Cairo. The Babylon Fortress lays the boundary between Lower Egypt and Middle Egypt, where the river crafts were required to pay tolls on their to-and-fro the Nile. 

10. It is believed that Cairo has hosted the Holy Family

The Old Cairo area has a part known as Coptic Cairo, which embraces the Coptic Museum, the Babylon Fortress, the Hanging Church, the Greek Church of St. George, and other Coptic churches and historical attractions. The Christian communities believe that the Holy Family (i.e., The Virgin Mary, Joseph, and Child Jesus) visited Old Cairo and took refuge at a cave that is now the site of Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Church of Abu Serga) situated within the boundaries of Babylon fortress. The Holy Family in Egypt was on a pious journey to spread the message of God. Remarkably, the Coptic Cairo was a stamping ground for Christianity in Egypt before and during the Islamic era.

11. Cairo is home to One of the largest Museums in the Middle East - With the World's biggest collection of Egyptian Antiquities

One of the largest museums in the Middle East is the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo city. It is popularly known as the Museum of Cairo or the Egyptian Museum. This museum displays a sizable collection of antiquities from ancient Egypt, the world's biggest collection. Constructed by an Italian construction company - Garozzo-Zaffarani in 1901, this is one of the largest museums in the region. Many archaeological sites in Cairo have many precious artefacts that were subject to looting or despoiling. Hence, the Museum of Cairo brought more than 120,000 artefacts together in a protected place. Around 120,000 items (including the renowned King Tutankhamun collection) are on exhibit, and the rest are sheltered in storerooms. 

12. One of the tallest free-standing structures ever in Africa is in Cairo

Cairo Tower in Cairo, Egypt
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The Cairo Tower is an independent concrete tower built in Cairo. It is situated on Gezira Island in the River Nile, near downtown Cairo. It is one of the most famous modern monuments in Cairo, sometimes considered the second most famous landmark in Egypt after the Pyramids of Giza. It has a height of 187 meters (614 feet) and was considered the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa for about 50 years. Across the entire African continent, it remained the tallest structure for ten years until 1971. After which, the Hillbrow Tower in South Africa outstripped the Cairo tower.

13. Cairo is a City of Festivals

At different phases of the year, you will observe a multitude of unique & vibrant festivals in Cairo city. It hosts splendid festivals of art, music, film, culture, food, fashion, sports, and more. The city hosts festivals, including the Cairo bites, where visitors can taste national and international cuisine, the Cairo jazz festival, the Fashion festival of Cairo, the International Film festival, and others. Along with exploring the tourist attractions of this city, the festivals of Cairo are also a medium to explore the character and style of this city with ecstasy.

14. Cairo has a somewhat unique shape

Cairo is a somewhat fan-shaped city that is expanded in the north, where the valley combines into the delta and tapered in the south, where the river valley is segmented between desert cliffs. Cairo is set along the Nile River, just south of the point where the Nile leaves its barren valley and extends into the low-lying Nile Delta. Throughout the past centuries, the city expanded westward as a dwindling river channel left the land flood-free zone. However, Cairo has also expanded to the north, south, and on the western bank of the Nile due to an elevated demand.

15. Cairo has only two main seasons across the year

In Cairo, there are roughly eight months of summer and four months of winter. In the summer season, the hottest of all months are - June, July, and August, in which the average daily maximum temperature is 35 °C (or 95 °F), and the minimum daily average is 21 °C (70 °F). Notably, the temperature can reach up to 47 °C (117 °F). In the winter season, the days are warm & dry due to the intense Tropic of Cancer sun, but the nights are cool and humid, which often receives fresh breezes from the Nile. The average daily maximum temperature in the winter months of January-February is 19 °C ( 67 °F), and the average daily minimum is 8.5 °C (47 °F).

16. Cairo is the primary centre for Economic production and Financial control in the country

Cairo City Skyling
Cairo encompasses many of Egypt's notable banks, hotels, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. The male labour force of Cairo is predominantly employed in the government, financial, or expanding commercial sectors in the modern economy of this city. With a developing infrastructure and a flourishing tourism industry, Cairo started promoting itself as a top-notch conference and convention centre by the 1990s.

17. Cairo Metro is one of the only two metros in Africa and is considered the 15th busiest metro across the globe

There are only two metro networks for transportation in the African continent - one in Cairo, Egypt, and another in Algiers, Algeria. The Cairo metro network is very popular and ranks the 15th busiest in the world. It observes beyond one billion annual passenger rides. It has three stops for transfer and more than 65 stations. Notably, the most crowded stations include El Shohada, Sadat, and Ataba. It is a highly effective and reasonable medium of transportation.

18. Some Cars in the Cairo Metro Network are entirely devoted to women

Cairo Metro For Women
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Some exclusive women-only carts in the Cairo metro are dedicated to women travellers. Some metro carts that are marked with red stickers are reserved for women all day round. Besides, others marked with green stickers are reserved for women from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Besides, the authorities are also organizing training courses for women to drive trains. This step is taken to empower the women in Egypt and make them a part of various jobs that were earlier reserved for men only.

19. Cairo embraces the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Middle East

Egypt is renowned for its musical and dramatic talent and as the site of a revitalization in Arab theatre for a long time. Cairo is referred to as the Hollywood of the Middle East. A majority of Arabic films are produced by Egyptian companies in this city. Also, many Middle Eastern and North African films are pictured here. Popular cinema stars and many famous musical entertainers of the Arab world have their main offices in Cairo. The aspiring artists move to Cairo if they want to thrive. Old Cairo has nicely sustained its religious history and lifestyle, making it an ideal filmmaking destination. The city has numerous film houses, old cinemas, cultural centres, and new theatres to host music shows and screen international films and documentaries.

20. Cairo previously belonged to Napoleon, but for a short duration

It is a strange but true fact that Cairo was once under the administration of Emperor Napoleon. However, this was only for a short duration - around three years. It seemed unbelievable at that time that the Ottoman Empire actually lost the city to Napoleon, but the Ottoman empire regained it via its counterstroke.

21. Cairo was Britain's base of operations

Cairo
In the late 19th century, when the British colonized Egypt, they set up tents in Cairo and conveniently ruled Egypt from there. Notably, the extensive transportation network of this country, which connects most of the urban centres of the country with Cairo, was laid out by the British. The British rulers worked remotely in Cairo until post-World War I, i.e., from 1914 to 1918.

22. Cairo is the birthplace of the first Arab writer to win the Nobel prize for Literature

Cairo has given some renowned gems to the world. One among those is Naguib Mahfouz (1991 - 2006; Cairo), an Egyptian novelist and screenplay writer. He was one of the foremost modern writers of Arabic literature. A great deal of his subject matter was based on Egyptian nationalism. In 1988, Naguib Mahfouz received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in 1911 in Cairo.

23. Cairo has the largest food court in the world

The Oasis Food Court by Oasis restaurants and entertainment in Cairo has set the record for arranging the largest food court in the world. Spread over around 41,000 sq.m. area and embracing a host of varied delicacies to taste, it is indeed a retreat for foodies. Notably, Oasis food court square has 25 restaurants and seat arrangements for up to 4,223 guests at once. Here, visitors can thoroughly relax, enjoy a meal, and watch movies within the court, while the kids accompanying them can have fun in the charming kids' zone.

24. Cairo offers one of the best shopping experiences in the world

Cairo Market
The Khan el-Khalili Bazaar in Cairo is one of the best places to shop in the world. Visitors can still hear the clanging of metalworkers and silversmiths in this market, which initially served as a retail area in 1400 AD. It is a famous Middle Eastern souq or bazaar in the heart of historic Cairo city that has a maze-like complex of narrow lanes. You must divert from the main throughway to the surrounding alleyways next to Hussein Square to reach here. Numerous crowded and colourful small shops and cluttered workshops are there, and this market is one of the best places to buy traditional Egyptian gifts at reasonable prices. Antiquities, beautiful metal lampshades, and locally woven fabrics are also available here.

24. UNESCO protects Cairo

There are many renowned areas in the capital city of Egypt. One of the notable areas in the history of Cairo is the Islamic Cairo. UNESCO honoured this area of the city and declared it one of the World Heritage Sites in Egypt. In 1979, historic Cairo was included in the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites with its 600 monuments. Established after the seventh-century Arab conquest, this city has great cultural significance.

These notable facts about Cairo reveal considerable information on this historical gem - from its history, culture, architecture, and picturesque landscapes. It is one of the premier sightseeing destinations on the globe but enfolds many more things to do other than museums and mosques. Being one of the world's most beautiful cities, Cairo is worth a visit!

This post was published by Kanika Sharma

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