Old Cairo is charming yet chaotic. The narrow golden-stone streets of the World Heritage Site have been captivating visitors for centuries. One of the oldest Islamic cities in the world, it is home to magnificent mosques, madrassas, hammams and fountains.
The historic centre of Cairo is relatively small compared to the rest of the sprawling city, but it is an area loaded with legendary history pre-dating the 10th century founding of Fatimid Cairo, and well deserving of its designation by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Wandering through the ancient streets of Old Cairo is enough to feel as though you're travelling through time. Get lost in its charming alleyways, letting yourself be captivated by everything from the most intricate details of the architecture to the atmosphere surrounding you.
What to see in Old Cairo
Old Cairo, or Islamic Cairo, is filled with fascinating places to visit, as you might expect. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of one of the city's oldest markets or escape the chaos to the peace of an ancient mosque, this district has something for you:
- Mosque of Muhammed Ali: also known as the Alabaster Mosque for the material which covers it, this enormous 19th century place of worship was inspired by Istanbul's New Mosque.
- Khan El Khalili: with vendors selling gold, copper, spices and more here since the 14th century, Khan El Khalili is Egypt's most important souk, and remains an incredible place to shop, eat or just soak up the atmosphere.
- The Citadel: originally constructed in the 12th century to protect the city from attacking Crusaders, the hilltop Saladin Citadel offers some of the most spectacular views over the surrounding city.
- Mosque of Ibn Tulun: the oldest and largest mosque in Cairo, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun is famed for its beautiful architecture.
- Muizz Street: around one kilometre (just over half a mile) long, this is one of the oldest streets in Cairo, and it is home to a breath-taking concentration of Islamic architectural treasures, from mosques and madrassas to mansions and palaces.
A trip to Egypt would not be complete without a visit to Historic Cairo, the true heart and soul of the city. You can easily stroll through it at your own pace, but if you decide you want to know more about its legendary history and majestic architecture, we recommend booking a guided tour with an expert local guide: