What I Could See in Old Town of Cairo
Wandering around the old town of Cairo was really something. When you see Cairo in rush hours, with frustrated traffic jam, entering the old town is like jumping to the other world. Everything is slower and looks older than it should, with old buildings around. Even, instead of cars or motor bikes, the view of horse carts look more common and familiar. I enjoyed couple of minutes to watch children playing around and enjoying Tamar, drink made by date palm. I bought two glasses for me and Rius. It was not bad, even tasted delicious in the middle of summer.
I gave a full time day to explore the town to feel more sensation how the Egyptian living in the past. In addition, I could amaze architecture of historical buildings which are spread in the town, and took some photographs for my collection. I must thankful to Rius for his patience to wait for me, while I just sat in one place without doing anything. It seems, Rius understood me a lot when I told him that my traveling style is not only for seeing the place, but also feel the sensation of the place and being part of it.
Due to my architecture background, I would never miss chances to see beautiful historical buildings in every destination. Therefore, Rius took me to Citadel Saladdin that was built by King Saladdin in 1170M and finished by his brother King El Addel. It is located on the top of the hills, where visitors can see the old town in the whole, to protect the old town of Cairo. The architecture of building reflects buildings constructing in Syrian and Palestine in period of Crusade.
It is still in the same compound, standing luxuriously, Muhammed Ali Mosque, the landmark of Cairo and also the most beautiful mosque in Egypt. It was built by Yusuf Boushnaq, Turkish architect, purposed to Muhammed Ali, the ruler of Egypt in 1805 to 1849. It explained why its minarets are similar to many mosques in Turkey. Non muslim visitors are allowed to visit, with respectful clothes.
In the same neighborhood, the other mosque that you must visit when you’re in Egypt. It is called Amr Ibn Al-As Mosque, which is known as the oldest mosque in Africa. Constructed with rectangular shape, supported by columns and mud bricks, covered by gravel floors, this mosque is not only functioned as Muslim Worship place, but also used as university for 600 years before University of Cairo was established. Non Muslim visitors are also allowed to visit, with respectful clothes.
Old town of Cairo is not only purposed to Muslims. If you walk straight, you can find other religious buildings. Hanging Church, a church purposed to Coptic Christians and Synagogue for the Jews. Nevertheless, due to the time limit, I couldn’t see much inside this two buildings.
I am not a shopping lover. However, on my trip to Egypt, I couldn’t avoid to not visit Khan El Khalili Bazar, the biggest traditional market in Cairo to buy some merchandise for special request given by my friend. The merchants seemed so familiar with Indonesian tourists. I amazed that many of them could speak Indonesian fluently.
“Hi.. Indonesian sister. Ke sini donk. Ayo lihat – lihat di tokoku,” in English it means, “Hi Indonesian sister. Come here. Please have a look at my shop”
Rius which had many experiences in handling Egyptian merchants told me to not bargain without his presence. Once again, I must thank to Rius for his excellent Arabic, I got good prices for some papyrus paintings, the most famous souvenirs that you must get when you’re in Egypt.