National Museum of Egyptian Civilization & the NEW Grand Egyptian Museum:
Okay…I get it, not everyone is a museum person. Even for me, with all of my traveling, they are hit or miss. Everyone is always like, “you HAVE to see this museum….”
::insert eye roll here:: HOWEVER, you HAVE to go to the Museum of Egyptian Culture when in Cairo!! You learn so much about the in depth and unique history of Egypt. The museum houses over 120,000 items between what is out on display to what is rotated in and out of the storage rooms. From artifacts to mummies to security protected exhibits that prohibit even taking a photo, the Grand Egyptian Museum is an absolute gem!
Heading to Egypt in 2020? You may be in luck! The Egyptian government has been building the brand new Grand Egyptian Museum a little over a mile down the road from the Great Pyramids. We drove by it and it is absolutely massive (spanning over 120 acres)! The architecture of it will also justify a visit on its own, as the entrances resemble the pyramids unfolding from the building. The future plan is to still keep the old museum open with some unique exhibits but moves many of the key artifacts and new discoveries over to the new building. Additionally, the new museum will be a bucket list destination because it will feature the entire Tutankhamen collection with MANY first time displayed pieces.
If you are planning to head down the Nile to Luxor, Aswan, etc. A visit to the museum should 100% be on your list. I recommend going before heading down the Nile as I did this and was able to understand a lot of what I was seeing in the temples on my trip.
Mosque of Mohammed Ali (no…NOT the boxer):
This mosque. This place. This…This is where things really sank in for me that I was in Egypt. The most recognizable mosque in Cairo is located about a 20-30 min trip from city center but to me it was well worth the trip. The minute we drove up, something just felt special on these grounds. The mosque architecture is exquisite and if you visit on a clear and sunny afternoon (after the fog clears), it really adds to the overall aesthetics of the property with being able to overlook the entire city of Cairo from this point. The architecture is predominately made of limestone with the first floor flooring being made of a slick alabaster and contains perfectly measured archways for days with an open courtyard. The courtyard displays a fountain for rinsing ones feet and hands prior to prayer and a brass clock that overlooks the city that was presented to Muhammad Ali by King Louis Philippe of France in 1845. The gifted clock was reciprocated with one of the obelisk from Luxor and is currently located in Paris, France….unfortunately for the Egyptians; the beautiful clock has yet to work to this very day!
My favorite part and what made this mosque special, was that this was my first actual call to prayer experience. There I was, standing in the very center of the mosque and the call to prayer starts. It was so loud yet magical to be a part of.
Additionally, the tomb of Muhammad Ali is located within the mosque and you are able to stand in front of it and pay your respects.
Although there is not a specific dress code in place, one should still dress conservatively since there will be people worshiping on site. For women, I would recommend a long flowy skirt or pants that reach the ankle and a top with sleeves. If you choose to wear a tank top or sleeveless shirt then you should bring a sweat or throw to cover with while inside. Also, you should also either wear shoes that can be easily removed (socks that you do not care about or go barefoot), OR bring/buy shoe coverings since you cannot enter the temple with your shoes. This protects the grounds of worship.
Walk through the arcades/walkways and check out the detail of the walls and windows in the courtyard (also an amazing photo opp!).
Upon exiting the Mosque, walk to your right for sweeping views of the city of Cairo. If it is a semi clear day then they won’t disappoint. Just don’t be too disappointed by all of the shoe coverings that will most likely be blowing around on the grounds ::sigh::
Use the bathroom at your own risk. I did not go in but my mom did and the look on her face was good enough for me! There is an attendant, so you will have to pay and I recommend (as always), having your own tissues and sanitizer/wipes.
aLOTTa Cairo Perspective