City Among the “Cities of the Dead”
The mention of the names such as “Egypt” and “Cairo” conjure up the images of pyramids, mystique of mummies, beautifully carved tombs, and the golden treasures of ancient Egyptian era.
Most Pyramids are actually located in the places such as Dahshur, Giza and Sakkara, which are outside the Cairo city. Those monuments were actually temples to the dead, who had been mummified. Due to this reason, the places are called the “Cities of the Dead”. However, Cairo got a more fascinating name, which is “The City of a Thousands Minarets” for distinctive architectural features found in the city.
Once the Greek historian Herodotus stated that “Egypt is the gift of the Nile”, and in the similar context, we can say that Cairo is the “livewire” of Egypt. The reason being, this city is the epicenter of trade, economic and political activities.
Cairo is a thriving city where people live in both modern apartments and free-standing houses. It is a city where tradition and modernity coincide to keep up with the changing life. Primarily, financially well-off people can only afford to live in the free-standing houses.
Facts About Cairo:
1. Cairo was established in 969 CE by the Fatimid Caliphate, who arrived from Tunisia. During that period, there had also been other settlements such as Islamic, Byzantine, Roman, Persian etc.
2. In Arabic, Cairo is referred as “al-Qahirah”, which means “the conqueror”. However, this city is popularly known as “Masr” among Egyptians. It is the Arabic for Egypt.
3. Among the only remaining seven ancient Wonders of the World, the pyramids of Giza are located in the outskirts of Cairo. Besides numerous great historical monuments and ancient museums, Cairo also has the great Sphinx and also ancient cities such as Giza, Memphis and Fustat are situated near it.
4. Al-Azhar University in Cairo is one of the oldest universities in the world. It was established in 975 CE.
5. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Naguib Mahfouz, was born in Cairo in 1882. He was the only Arab writer, who won this prestigious award in literature.
6. Every year in May, the city hosts the Great Southern Antique Car Rally where hundreds of the most expensive antique cars in the world participate. The Cairo Antique Auto Museum also displays various antique cars since the 1900s.
7. Famous baseball player Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo. He was the first African-American baseball player in the Major League Baseball (MLB). In 1949, Robinson was adjudged “Most Valuable Player” in 1949.
8. The climatic condition in Cairo has been a concern for the past several years. In 2007, the World Bank declared Cairo’s air quality worst in the world due to pollutants that can be damaging to human lungs.
9. In Cairo and other cities, government offices and businesses remain closed on Friday. Many offices follow the work schedule from Sunday through Thursday. Most universities and some private schools follow the same schedule for holding classes. Educational institutes remain closed on Friday and Saturday.
10. For many decades, Cairo has faced the brunt of some of the world’s deadliest plagues. In fact, the city was hit by plagues for more than fifty times between 1348 and 1517. These pandemics had wiped out a large part of the population, were named “Black Death”. These plagues originated from a bacterium found in oriental rat fleas that live on the black rats.
11. It would be interesting to know that there are two namesakes of Cairo – one in the Grady County, Georgia, USA and another is the town of Cairo, Illinois, also in the USA.