Memphis#11 in Best Things To Do in Cairo
First founded in A.D. 969, Cairo is considered a very young capital by Egyptian standards. Before the founding of Cairo, the ancient city of Memphis reigned supreme. Neighboring Saqqara along the Nile River, the ruins of Memphis (which was founded in 2925 B.C. by quasi-mythical ruler Menes) was the first imperial city on earth. All that remains of its former glory are the scattered ruins of stone temples, lingering statues and mud-brick necropolises. Some of the highlights here include a large limestone statue of Ramses II and a giant alabaster sphinx, both of which once guarded the entrance to the Temple of Ptah, Memphis' patron deity.
Recent visitors said that exploring the ancient capital was a must. However, the site is small since most of the ruins were ransacked before excavations began, so it's best to group a Memphis visit with a tour of Saqqara. Several tour companies, including Memphis Tours and Emo Tours Egypt, offer excursions to both locales for around $100.
Memphis sits approximately 17 miles south of central Cairo. There is no public transportation within walking distance, so plan on driving, hailing a taxi or taking a bus tour to the site. On-site parking is offered for 5 Egyptian pounds (less than $1) per vehicle. The attraction welcomes sightseers every day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a fee of 40 Egyptian pounds (about $5). Students get in for a reduced rate. Additional facilities like restrooms and a gift shop are not available.
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#1 Islamic Cairo
This sprawling neighborhood in eastern Cairo encompasses a labyrinth of twisting alleyways and a spattering of awe-inspiring architecture. The atmosphere here will take some getting used to: The streets are crowded, noisy and littered with animal droppings. But if you take the time to adjust to Islamic Cairo's chaotic environment, you won't regret making the trek.
You'll find a number of top attractions here, including Khan El-Khalili's bazaar and the Salah El-Din Citadel. According to past visitors, no matter where you wander in the area, you'll stumble upon archeological treasures and architectural gems. To see Islamic Cairo's sights, get out and walk or tag along on an organized bus tour. Bus tours – like those offered by Memphis Tours and Egypt Tailor Made Tours – include local guides, so if you want to learn more about the neighborhood's history, this is the best way to get around.
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