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Islamic Cairo (Egypt – 1996) *****

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A magical mix of madness, mayhem and magnificent monuments, this is one of the world’s greatest city centres. True it takes time to adjust to all the modern-day hustle and hassles and hooting, but the rewards are a wealth of mosques and madrasses and minarets, sprinkled with a few real gems such as the Citadel and the City of the Dead. Indeed, the view from the Citadel’s battlements down over the hulking (and practically touching) Refai and Sultan Hassan mosques and then out over the rest of this vast metropolis is one of the most spectacular urban panoramas imaginable. And once you’ve soaked up enough of the culture, it’s time to soak up some of the atmosphere (and some of the tea) in a café in the vast 600-year-old Khan el-Khalili. It’s tourist-thronged these days but it’s still a market worth the walking (and there’s lots of walking to be done), even if it’s just to enjoy the sights and sounds and smells – before another well deserved tea break. If the pyramids were included, it’s frightening to think how many stars Cairo would get!  


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World Heritage Site 43 - Ancient Cairo

Cairo, Egypt