The new 7-story opera house at the Gezira Exhibition Grounds was inaugurated on 3.10. 1988. Designed by a team of Japanese and Egyptian architects, it is an architectural masterpiece of Islamic design. It is equipped with the most sophisticated audio-visual system and comprises:
The Main Theater, a closed hall comprising 1200 seats, is used for opera, ballet and classic music performances.
The Second Theater is also a closed hall comprising 500 seats and is used for various purposes including film festivals and conferences.
The Third Theater is an open one comprising 1000 seats. There are other halls, some of which are used for training and rehearsals, in addition to the Museum and the Library containing references pertaining to the most significant artistic works.
Cairo International Center for Conferences (CICC)
Located in Nasr City, it comprises three main conference halls, a fourth for receptions and a fifth for exhibitions. In addition, there are fully-equipped secretarial offices and press center.
- Main Hall: 2,500 m2, with 2,500 seats.
- Second Hall: 840 m2, with 800 seats.
-Third Hall: 900 m2, with 600 seats.
-Receptions Hall: 1,600 m2, with 1,250 seats.
-Exhibition Hall: 2,500 m2
For information Tel. (202)2634637
Over 180 meters high, it is the most outstanding attraction of modern Cairo. The first of the top two stories has a rotating restaurant and cafeteria. Visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Cairo from the observation platform.
Sound and Light Show
In an enchanting atmosphere, with sound, light, and music, the show captivates audiences and makes re-live ancient times, the history of the Pyramids and the glory of the Pharaohs. The show is presented in six languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian.
Historical spectacle reflecting the style of life of ancient Egyptians. Visitors witness the daily activities of the ancient Egyptian who has known the oldest civilization. The Village also contains a papyrus museum and offers adequate services to its visitors. The visit lasts two hours.
The Egyptian Museum
It is located at Tahrir Square. It is regarded as one of the most prominent museums in the world for it offers visitors a chance to acquaint themselves with Egypt's ancient history over a period of 50 centuries. Its most significant showpiece is the magnificent Tutankhamun collection.
The Coptic Museum
The museum houses a rare collection of ancient Christian relics including remains of architectural works, textiles, icons and old manuscripts reflecting the history of Coptic civilization.
The Museum of Islamic Art (Bab al-Khalq Square)
It is regarded as the largest museum in the Middle East, housing 80,000 rare objects dating from the dawn of Islam to the Ottoman period.
The Military Museum
The museum displays a magnificent collection of ancient weapons, statues, and uniforms in addition to other exhibits designed to show the art of warfare in Egypt from the earliest times. There are other museums and modern landmarks in Cairo that are also worth seeing.
There are several spacious parks in Cairo including the Zoological Gardens in Giza, the Andalusian Gardens overlooking the Nile, the Kanater Al Khaireya Gardens (the Good Barrage), about 25 kms from the capital, the Fish Gardens in Zamalek and the International Garden in Nasr City. The Azhar park.
If you had to choose one color to symbolize Cairo, it would probably be brown: the color of desert sand, camels and centuries-old buildings. The opening of Al Azhar Park came as a refreshing addition to an otherwise monochrome city, with more green than people have seen in a long time.
As you walk through the gates of this 30-hectare park you're greeted with wide-open spaces, sloping grassy hills, rows of trees, blossoming orchards and amazing views of the city. Away from the usual hustle and bustle -a striking contrast to the rest of Cairo-visitors will be pleased to find a lot of room to walk, run and just breathe.
The park comprises gardens, pedestrian paths, promenades and pavilions in the classical, geometric Islamic style, while orchards line the tiny streams cascading from a large man-made lake. In the north corner is a large playground for children with swings, slides and jungle gyms.
A wide variety of plant life has taken root in the park, some of which are exotic botanicals, others more local; many species are especially suited to Egypt's dry climate.
Around two-thirds of the park is covered in vegetation. The hill's soil, which is high in salinity, had to be improved to allow plants to flourish.
Looking across Al Azhar Park, you see the cities of the living and the dead stretching off into the distance, the walls of the citadel and the dames of the Muhammad Ali Mosque. As you look off to the west, the city drops below the horizon, leaving only a surreal panorama of scattered minarets floating behind a grassy foreground.
The park, the largest of its kind in the Middle East and Africa, heralds the return of open green space to a city long buried under jumbled concrete buildings, multi-lane freeways and high-rise towers. The last lime Cairo saw a public park of this size in the city proper was during the days of the khedives.
The lay-out of the park is completed with two palace-like complexes recalls the decadence of the sultans. Like its predecessors, Al Azhar Park was made possible by the generosity of an extremely wealthy philanthropist: the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims. In 1984, the Aga Khan decided to give a gift to the city of his Fatimid ancestors, who founded Al- Qahira in 969.
The lack of green space and pure oxygen for Cairenes had been noticed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), and so was born a massive and the foot of El-Darassa; other visitors have to Park is a modern ambitions project to transform the garbage heap at Cairo's eastern edge into a park. The mission eventually turned into a development project aimed at revitalizing a whole community. The Historic Cities Support Program (HCSP), a branch of the AKTC, selected the site of El-Darassa, bordered by Al Azhar and Sa1ah Salem streets, which is surrounded by the most-visited historic sites in Islamic Cairo.
"This is the largest project of the Historic Cities Support Program," says Stefano Bianca, director of the program. The director notes that in combining the creation of a public park with an integrated community development scheme, the project will inspire change in Islamic Cairo. "It was a revolutionary idea to use a landscaping project as an engine for a rehabilitation process. He says, "This changed the face and fate of the old city."
The project is meant to be a park for the people, says Mohammed El-Mikawi, executive manager of Aga Khan Cultural Services in Egypt. Organizers hope community members, tourists and Egyptians from every corner and alley will bask in its cool shade. There is a visitors' center featuring detailed interpretive boards and panels with historical background on Islamic Cairo.
Admission is low for residents of the nearby Darb Al-Ahmar, the triangle-shaped neighborhood at the foot of El-Darassa; other visitors have to pay about LE 5. Organizers hope that with between 1 million and 2 million visitors each year, the park will eventually be able to sustain itself and revive the economy of the surrounding community. Public performances will occasionally be held in the park's many outdoor venues.
More than just an open space, visitors will find a variety of dining options including the five-star Hilltop Restaurant, with a Fatimid-inspired design.
A more informal eatery, the Lakeside Pavilion cafe, makes use of traditional masharabiyya screens and is nestled among orchards overlooking the lake and fountain. There is also a branch of Egypt's French cafe chain Alain La Notre.
While Islamic Cairo is one of the top tourist destinations in Cairo, there are zero options for accommodation in the area. This is something the Aga Khan Foundation would like to change. They hope to propose a budget, hostel-style accommodation in Darb Al-Ahmar. In this way, visitors will develop a closer relationship with Islamic Cairo.
Maher Stino of Sites International, one of the main architects for the park, says the design gives Islamic architecture a modern twist. "What we have tried to do with the park is to have a real relationship with its Islamic context, not just mimic it," says Stino.
An underground wall
It is ironic that the park's greatest advantage - its elevation - is the result of a much less desirable hill of ancient garbage. A new chapter in the story of the growing mound of debris began when excavations for the park commenced. Workers un-earthed a buried treasure during their digging: 1.3 kilometers of the old city wall dating back to the 13th century.
Since the city's earliest days, it had been standard practice to deposit trash and the remains of demolished buildings at the edges of the city. The wall, which was built in the Ayyubid period, had seen centuries of residents tossing debris over its sides, until finally the structure was consumed by the growing hill. The heaps of fill reached their peak during the Mamluk period -the French traveler They have not wrote in the mid-1600s that the rubbish already hid the walls of the old city. This particular section is apparently the only place where people did not move to live on the other side of the wall.
Now 1,500 meters of the wall, which forms the eastern border of the old city, are visible. From the 1 million cubic meters of ancient refuse removed, excavators have found 12th-century inscriptions, pottery and coins.
Discovering the wall was an unexpected bonus for the Aga Khan team. Project officer Francesco Siravo says the wall is now an integral part of the project's work and will be a focus of the interpretive center. Inside the wall itself, visitors will be able to wind their way through its towers and interior galleries.
The wall is actually only the portal into the many other treasures of this historic district. In Darb Al-Ahmar, there are 65 monuments registered by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and several more unregistered but significant buildings. Part of the overall Al Azhar Park project involves restoration work on several other monuments in the area.
In collaboration with the New York-based World Monuments Fund, the AKTC is also restoring the 14th-century Umm Sultan Shaaban Mosque, whose minaret showed cracks and had partially collapsed after the 1992 earthquake.
The 13th-century Khayrbek complex, which includes the Palace of Alin Aq, the Khayrbek Mosque and the Ottoman-era Sabil Kuttab will be made functional again as a recreational and cultural center.
Since opening in summer 2004, the park's success proves that Cairo was in dire need of an open space. Al Azhar Park has restored the bloom to an age-old city.
Cairo shopping centers
Shopping centers in and around Cairo appeal to most visitors. Egyptian products are so varied and meet various tastes and different levels of income. These centers or souks (markets) provide quality which rivals International standards. Among the most attractive centers are the following:
The Khan Khalili Bazaar and Sagha (goldsmiths ) area
Comprising an array of shops dating to the 14th Century AD, Khan Khalili is renowned for its indigenous character and the magnificent variety of gold and silver works, embroidered clothing, leather goods and ivory-inlaid woodwork in addition to the many other attractive handicraft.
Is the main center for hand-made carpets. Shopping centers are also available in some major hotels and in center and outskirts of town. These sell silk, cotton and wool textiles as well as leather goods including shoes and bags.
In addition to the private sector boutiques, there are public sector stores such as Gategno, Sednaoui, Omar Effendi, Chemla, Cicurel, Benzion, Dawoud Addes and Hannaux.
Is famed for its embroidered cotton and silk dresses (Galabeyas) as well as other hand-made products.