Mosque of Muhammad Ali
You can see this Ottoman mosque from a mile away. It was built in the nineteenth century and in honour of Tusun Pasha, Muhammad Ali’s oldest son, who passed away in 1816. Architect Yusuf Bushnak completed the structure in 1848. The mosque and citadel are some of many attractions and landmarks in Cairo. Step inside the mosque and you’ll see that its architecture is typical of Turkish style. The mosque has a main dome surrounded by four small and semicircular domes. The minarets are cylindrical and have two balconies and conical caps (you’ll see these on the mosque’s western side). The mosque is made primarily of limestone. The lower storey and forecourt, however, are made of alabaster. The mosque’s western entrance leads to the open courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded by rounded arcades with small domes. You will notice a marbled fountain in the middle of the courtyard, built by Ismail Pasha in 1828. One last detail about the courtyard: Note an iron clock on the western wall, presented to Muhammad Ali by King Louis Philippe (France).
The Hanging Church (St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church)
This is one of Egypt’s oldest churches. The history of this particular church dates back to the third century A.D. Why is this attraction known as the Hanging Church? It is situated above a Babylon Fortress gatehouse, and its nave is suspended over a passage. Unlike most churches that may have as many as ten steps, the Hanging Church has twenty-nine. Be prepared for a long hike up! Once you enter the church, be prepared to see 110 icons. Of these icons, the oldest dates back to the eighth century. The others, however, hail from the eighteenth century. The iconostases within the church are made of ebony and ivory, just like the main altar. The icons depict a number of religious personalities, including the Virgin Mary, the Twelve Apostles, and St. John the Baptist.
Care to do some shopping during your stay in Cairo? You’d want to stop by Khan el-Khalili. This bazaar district is the city’s main attraction for residents and tourists alike. The bazaar, which was first a mausoleum, used to be the heart of Cairo’s economic activity; sultans would build businesses nearby. Today, most Egyptians run businesses here. Take advantage of buying local products (souvenirs, antiques, jewellery). But there’s more: take a sip of coffee or shisha at one of the many coffeehouses along the strip. If you’re feeling hunger pangs, many restaurants are at your fingertips. If you prefer to buy foods, you’ll come across many food vendors throughout the market.