2010.10.5In the morning, we felt we hadn’t seen the Pyramids enough, so we decided to go to Giza again. Learnt the lesson from yesterday, we set off at 7AM. It took us more than an hour because of the traffic jam, but we were still earlier than those tour buses. We entered Giza Plateau from the entrance near 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.

The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid
The Great Sphinx, Giza

We didn’t go to the place with panorama view, but we did get chance to take pictures with a camel.

Camel Rides
Giza pyramid
Camel for Photo
Camel man and his camel posed in front of Khafre’s pyramid, Giza

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.

Entrance of Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar
Mosque of al-Azhar

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.

Brass on Sale in Khan al-Khalili
Khan al-Khalili

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.

Madrassa of Sultan Barquq, Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo
Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo
Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo
Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo
Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo
Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo
Islamic Cairo
Fatimid Cairo

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.

Bread at Citadel View Restaurant in Al-Azhar Park
Citadel View Restaurant in Al-Azhar Park
Citadel Overlook from Citadel View Restaurant in Al-Azhar Park
Overlook the Citadel from Al-Azhar Park
Islamic Cairo Panorama from Citadel View Restaurant in Al-Azhar Park
Overlook Islamic Cairo from Al-Azhar Park

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.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Fountain and Minret of Mosque of Ibn Tulun
City View from the Spiral Minaret at Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Overlook the surrounding city on top of the wall of Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Mosque of Ibn Tulun

Again, it’s too late to enter Citadel. It’s a regret because this was our last day in Cairo.

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