Al Azhar Park#9 in Best Things To Do in Cairo
Flanking the eastern edge of Islamic Cairo is Al Azhar Park, one of Cairo's largest parks. Formerly a garbage dump, Al Azhar Park now features an array of fountains, manicured gardens, recreation areas and restaurants.
For many visitors, the highlight of this public space is the Ayyubid wall, which was constructed by the founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty, Salah El-Din, more than 800 years ago. Nature lovers will also appreciate the wide selection of international flora found here. To avoid crowds, previous travelers recommended visiting between Sunday and Thursday.
You can reach Al Azhar Park via taxi or on foot from Islamic Cairo. Khan el-Khalili sits less than a mile away, while downtown Cairo is about 3 miles to the west. Do not plan on driving since parking in the area is limited and expensive. All visitors will be charged an entrance fee of 10 Egyptian pounds (or about $1), which includes access to bathrooms and the Ayyubid wall. Additional charges apply for items purchased at the park's cafes and restaurants. The park hosts visitors every day from 9 a.m. to midnight. For more information, visit the Al Azhar Park website.
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#1 Coptic Cairo (Old City)
This neighborhood in southern Cairo is the oldest part of the city, with twisting alleyways and ancient churches that are several centuries older than the ornate mosques of Islamic Cairo. According to legend, it was St. Mark who introduced Christianity to Egypt, and it was here that Africa's first Christian church – the Coptic Church of Egypt – thrived. To learn more about Coptic Cairo's rich history, check out neighborhood attractions like the Coptic Museum and the ninth-century Hanging Church, which are housed within an ancient Babylonian fortress. You'll also find significant Jewish and Islamic locales here, including the Mosque of Amr Ibn al-Aas – the oldest mosque in Africa – and Ben Ezra Synagogue – the alleged site where the pharaoh's daugher found Moses floating in his basket.
Past visitors said visiting Coptic Cairo is a must, even if you're not religious. History lovers will appreciate the area's abundance of historic sights, while architecture buffs will enjoy gazing at the neighborhood's beautiful mosaics and woodwork. Plus, Coptic Cairo's narrow alleys are lined with street vendors selling a variety of goods.
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