Testimony to Cairo’s multiple faces is everywhere. A walk around the city is a walk through thousands of years: from the colossal Pyramids of Giza at the edge of the Western Desert to the Old Coptic Quarter on the east bank; through the alleys of Islamic Cairo, gushing with life and hundreds of ancient monuments to the downtown quarter where the stunning façades of 19th-century buildings remind onlookers of the profound influence of European occupiers. And in between the ancient monuments and modern buildings, souks and ahwas (coffee houses), bazaars and falafel stalls fill every crevice where the contagious energy of Cairo, perhaps the city’s greatest attraction of all, looms on as it always has.
There is never enough time to see all the sights that Cairo has to offer, but the extraordinary Egyptian Museum (sometimes, mistakenly, referred to as the Cairo Museum), is one of the wonders of the country. Its most famous exhibits are the spectacular Tutankhamen displays and the world-renowned Mummy Room, but the enormous wealth of other Pharaonic materials numbers a staggering 136,000. Unrivalled even by the grand museums of Berlin, London, New York and Paris, for tourists and scholars alike the museum is a must if only for a few hours.