Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, English Cairo [ ka ɪ rə ʊ ], Arab Misr el-Cairo, capital of Egypt, with (2018) 9.3 million residents (agglomeration: around 21 million residents.) Is the largest city in Africa and the Arab world.

The main part of Cairo lies on terraced surfaces between the Djebel Mokattam in the east and the Nile in the west, south of its division into individual delta arms. Cairo is the political, intellectual and economic center of the country and the entire Middle East, seat of the Arab League; Seat of government, parliament, the Supreme Court and all central government and religious authorities (Coptic and Uniate Coptic patriarchs, archbishops). As a spiritual center, Cairo has, in addition to the Islamic Al-Azhar University (founded in 975), the State Cairo University (founded in 1908, based in Giza), Ain Shams University (founded in 1950), and Heluan University (founded in 1975) and the American University (founded in 1919). Cairo has numerous research institutes, the Goethe Institute, libraries, theaters, an opera and a number of unique museums, including the Egyptian Museum with the most important collection of ancient Egyptian art treasures (including the king’s gold coffin Tutankhamun), the Coptic Museum with the richest Coptic collection and the Museum of Islamic Art. The more than 500 mosques mark Cairo as the intellectual stronghold of the Islamic (Sunni) culture.

In addition, Cairo is the most important business and trading city in the Orient and the seat of the most important corporations, banks, trading houses, the stock exchange (since 1865) and economic organizations; Fairground. Cairo is also a major tourist center. Favorable traffic situation at the intersection of the most important lines between Southern Europe, Orient and Black Africa with international airport, center of the railway and road network, sufficient energy supply through modern large power plants, market proximity and high population density made Cairo the focal point of the Egyptian economy (especially chemical, food-, Textile, shoe, tobacco, furniture and printing industries as well as metal processing); around 25% of the country’s industrial production is generated here. – The constant growth of the city, Due to the natural population growth and rural exodus, urban and traffic planning poses enormous problems. In 1987 the first line (line 1; 44 km long, 35 stations) of the urban subway (Africa’s first), a Franco-Egyptian light rail project opened. Another route (line 2; 22 km long, 20 stations) was completed in January 2005, a section of line 3 has been in operation since February 2012, lines 4 and 5 are being planned. New residential areas west of the Nile as well as suburbs with their own industrial and economic structure are to relieve the capital.


The Islamic city center of Cairo has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

From the mosque of Amr Ibn al-As in Fustat (originally around 640/641) no original structure has been preserved (today’s building 14th and 18th centuries). The plan of the mosque Ahmed Ibn Tuluns (876–879) in Al-Katai (mosque with rich stucco ornamentation) goes back to the Abbasid Great Mosque of Samarra. The Fatimid Azhar Mosque (970–972) and the Al- Hakims (990–1013) were modeled on the classic court mosques in Medina and others. built. The emphasis on a main facade by corner towers, gateways and rich architectural sculptures (Al-Hakim’s mosque) is also taken over by the smaller buildings from the Fatimid period (969–1171) such as the Al-Akmar mosque (1125). Between 1087 and 1092 the fortification of the expanding city also began, v. a. under the Aijubid Saladin (1176–93; gates 1171–76, citadel 1179). Architecture flourished under the Mamluks. Since the mosque of the Sultan Al-Mansur Kalaun (1284/85) – with a powerfully structured facade (elements of early Gothic crusader architecture) and high Seljuk niche portal – medrese, mosque and others have been used. integrated in monumental building complexes. The mosque of Sultan Hasan (1356–62) assigns the mausoleum accompanied by two minarets (in the octagonal shape typical of Cairo) to the center of the medrese with courtyard and four ivans.

The later Mamluk architecture replaced a closed building block with picturesquely grouped structures with a flat structure and alternating colors. Since the Ottoman period (since 1517), there have been no trend-setting large buildings. The Mehmed Alis mosque on the citadel (completed in 1857) is an elaborate, historicizing copy of an Ottoman mosque from the 16th century.

Until around 1860 Cairo was a firmly established district with a traditional structure. After this point in time, a new Cairo was built next to it (Al-Ismailija and At-Taufikija), which, with its structure and architecture imported from Europe, existed almost independently. All architectural tendencies of historicism, the turn of the century and the early 20th century are represented here. The international style can be observed in buildings from the period after 1950. The skyline of the city is now dominated by high-rise buildings, especially on the banks of the Nile. On the Nile island Gesira 1985-88 the new cultural center with opera house and museum for modern art in classical Arabic style was built by the Japanese architect Shikida Koichiro built. In 2003, Heneghan Peng Architects from Dublin won the competition for a new building for the Egyptian Museum to be built in nearby Giza.


According to computerannals, Cairo developed from different settlements: On the east bank of the Nile there was an ancient Egyptian settlement, called Babylon by the Greeks, which was expanded by the Romans to a fortress by building a fortress; north of it, during the Arab conquest of Egypt, Amr Ibn al-As, military leader of the caliph Omar, built a field camp in 641, from which the capital Fustat developed (at the location of both places today the district of Old Cairo, in Arabic Misr al-Kadima). Under the Abbasids who became caliphs in 749/750, the new capital Al-Askar became north of the burnt-out Fustat founded, which the governor (and later sultan) Ahmed Ibn Tulun, sent from the caliph’s residence Samarra, expanded to Al-Katai; the actual core of Cairo was founded by the Fatimids in 969 northeast of it with Al-Kahira. In the Mamluk period (1250–1517), Cairo developed into the dominant center of Islamic culture instead of Baghdad, which was devastated by the Mongols in 1258. Around 1340 it had around 500,000 residents, more than any other city in Africa, Europe and Asia Minor at that time. After the Ottoman conquest of Egypt (1517), the city began to decline economically, which also lasted when Napoleon Bonaparte Invaded Cairo (now numbering less than 300,000 residents) during his Egyptian expedition in 1798. Since the end of the 19th century, Cairo has developed into a cosmopolitan city.

In 2011, Tahrir Square in Cairo became the central location for demonstrations against the Mubarak regime and a symbol of the Egyptian revolution.

Cairo, Egypt

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