Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Cairo

Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:01am EDT
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By Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters Life!) - Pairing an ancient pharaonic legacy with a cosmopolitan buzz that has made it a cultural hub of the Middle East, Egypt's 5,000-year-old capital is a study in contrasts.

Cairo, where Oriental bazaars with traditional handicrafts nestle beside neon malls displaying the world's top fashion labels and where overcrowded slums border lavish neighborhoods, has long captured the imagination of adventurous travelers.

Dubbed "the city of a thousand minarets," the Cairo skyline is pierced with countless domes and minarets of mosques that overlook its frenetic, congested streets.

It has also been called "Paris on the Nile," a home to relics of colonial-era architecture inspired by France and ranging in style from neo-baroque to art deco.

A chaotic, crowded metropolis teeming with traffic, Cairo elicits all but indifference from its visitors. It is a glorious beacon of history and culture, interweaving influences from Turkish, French and British colonial rule.

In modern times the city has become an anchor for film, music and pop culture embraced across the Arab world.

Egypt's weekend days are Friday and Saturday, just enough time to get a glimpse of its capital's many faces.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors to Cairo get the most out of a short stay.   Continued...