Sphinx. There were only one small group there, we got at least 20-minute time of our own to take pictures and appreciate her majesty.
We didn’t go to the place with panorama view, but we did get chance to take pictures with a camel.
The inside of the Great Pyramid only opens at afternoon. We couldn’t wait that long. Had we seen the documentary about how pyramids were build, the chambers, pathways and possible internal ramps, we probably would make a different decision, but our plan for the afternoon was to to see Islamic Cairo. The first stop was the area around Khan al-Khalili. It’s so coincident that the taxi driver to took us there was the same one who took us to Giza in the first day.
Just next to Khan al-Khalili, Mosque of al-Azhar is one of the oldest mosque of the city and the highest authority of Islamic study. My wife had to wear scarf to get in. Mosques have more restrictions on what to wear for women – all the body parts have to be covered.
The world famous Khan al-Khalili bazaar contains only a handful alleys. They are so narrow that the goods placed outside the stores, clothes, carpet, brass, spices and souvenirs, almost block the pathway.
Leaving Khan al-Khalili behind, Fatimid Cairo is like a living museum of medieval architecture. It has many mosques and palaces that were originally built in Fatimid dynasty, but reconstructed by later dynasties. Wandering around its narrow streets, I was particularly amazed by those intriguing and delicate carvings on the wall and window. Arabic inscriptions also become part of decoration of buildings as they are always engraved in such artistic styles.
We spent about 2 hour in Islamic Cairo. After that, we made a right decision not to eat McDonalds but went to Al-Azhar Park and had a lunch at Citadel View Restaurant. Al-Azhar Park makes a distinct contrast to its surroundings – it’s like a small oasis among all the gray tones. The restaurant is quite high-end with nice food, good service, and especially, wonderful view. In the front, you can clearly see the Citadel erecting on top of the highland; at the back, it provides panoramic views of Islamic Cairo.
When we arrived at Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the sun was already low in the sky. There was only one tour group there and they soon left. The inner courtyard were all empty, I felt I was looking at a Star Wars scene. The spiral minaret can be accessed from outer courtyard. You can reach the very top with an easy climb, rewarded by an excellent view of the city.
Again, it’s too late to enter Citadel. It’s a regret because this was our last day in Cairo.