Dahshur#10 in Best Things To Do in Cairo
While the Pyramids of Giza steal most of the limelight, travelers looking to experience ancient Egypt without competing with crowds head to Dahshur. Located about 23 miles south of central Cairo, this archaeological site contains five pyramids dating as far back as 2575 B.C. There are three pyramids that stand out: the Red, Bent and Black pyramids. The Red Pyramid (also known as the North Pyramid) can be recognized by its pinkish hue. Although it's much smaller than the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Giza, the Red Pyramid is just as significant because it was ancient Egypt's first attempt at building a true pyramid. The Bent Pyramid earned its name from its unique shape, which demonstrates the transition from the old-fashioned step-style pyramid to a true pyramid. The Black Pyramid was created several hundred years after its neighbors with mud brick and limestone. Long after its construction, the limestone was plundered and repurposed, leaving only the dark-colored facade that gave the Black Pyramid its name.
Although you can only enter the Red Pyramid, recent visitors recommended exploring Dahshur. Though these are some of Cairo's smallest pyramids, their unique exteriors rival the pyramids found in Giza. Plus, you'll find fewer crowds and cheaper entrance fees here.
You won't find public transportation near Dahshur, so plan on driving, hailing a taxi or taking a bus tour – like those offered by Love Egypt Tours and Emo Tours Egypt – to the region. Free parking is provided at Dahshur, which is open daily between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. However, no additional facilities, such as restrooms and a gift shop, are offered on-site. Tickets for Dahshur cost 60 Egyptian pounds ($7) for adults and include entry into the Red Pyramid. Reduced rates are available for students.
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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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