Cairo, the triumphant city, known officially as al-Qāhirah is one of the world’s largest and oldest cultural centers. Because it has the largest and oldest of the Arab film industries, it has been dubbed the ‘Hollywood of The East,’ by observers. Notably, while Al-Qahirah is the official name of Cairo, Egyptians refer to the city simply as Misr: the Arabic name for Egypt itself.


As a result of its age, Cairo has a distinct mix of historic and modern attractions. The city was founded in 969 AD as the royal enclave of the Fatimid caliphs. The actual civic center was based in nearby Fustat but what was then Cairo served simply as the living quarters for the ruling family. When Fustat was destroyed by Crusaders in 1169, Cairo was declared the administrative capital of Egypt.

In 1250, the Mamluks (the slave soldiers who served the Muslim caliphs) captured Cairo and ruled until the 16th century when the Ottomans defeated them in battle. Amazingly by the middle of the 16th century Cairo had high rise apartment buildings where the two lower floors were for commercial and storage purposes and the multiple stories above them were rented out to tenants.

Of note, most scholars now believe that the tales from “Thousand and One Arabian Nights” probably took place in Cairo during the period of the Mamluks rather than in Baghdad. In the “Tale of the Jewish Physician,” there is a description of Cairo which states:

“He who hath not seen Cairo hath not seen the world: her soil is gold, her Nile is a marvel; her women are like the black-eyed hours of Paradise; her houses are palaces; and her air is soft, more odorous than aloes-wood, rejoicing the heart.  And how can Cairo be otherwise when she is the Mother of the World?”

ancient modern egypt

Modern Cairo is noted not only for its historical importance and size, but as the education and cultural center of the Arab world. The Cairo International Film Festival draws crowds from across the Arab Peninsula and Northern Africa. Founded in 1976, the Film Festival has welcomed international movie icons to Egypt’s capital for 29 years to discuss the state of cinema today.

No luxury Egyptian travel excursion would be complete, however, without a tour of Egypt’s cultural and religious heritage. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is home to the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world. It has nearly 140,000 items on display for travelers to enjoy. Many more thousands of antiquities wait patiently to be displayed in the museums many storerooms.

If you are looking for a one of a kind luxury travel excursion Cairo is the perfect place. At Ker and Downey, we offer several unique itineraries to choose from. Whether you’d like an extended luxury adventure of 11 nights with our Ultimate Egypt itinerary or a shorter excursion via our Glimpses of Egypt plan, contact us to build the most exquisite luxury vacation for you.