Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city, is far different from the rest of the country. Eager explorers will touch down in Khartoum and be greeted with a mix of Arab and African culture. Colonial architecture, homes splashed with Nubian patterns, Islamic minarets, and glass buildings all co-mingle. The Presidential Palace is an opulent white and yellow building dating to the 1800s. Over the years, Khartoum has been the destination for Jewish residents, Syrian traders, Arab settlers, and Turkish rulers.
The people of Sudan have been in contact with so many different lands over the centuries, that it only makes sense that it has influenced their cuisine. Try feseekh, a fermented fish, and ful, mashed beans with peanut oil, topped with some cheese, raw onion, and tomato; these tasty dishes are both Egyptian. Moukhbaza, a sweet mashed banana dish, takes influence from Ethiopia. Stuffed vegetables, reminiscent of the Greek moussaka, are also on the menu. Khartoum is also where the Blue and White Nile meet. Fishermen pull their nets up from the glistening Nile to inspect their catch. The silvery fish are often grilled on the spot.
And while Khartoum’s food is a tempting treat, Sudan’s art is different kind of feast. Sudan’s creativity has been thriving for centuries.
The National Museum displays objects, murals, hieroglyphics, and temples discovered at ancient sites dating back to the Kushite kingdom. Chiseled royal statues and Christian frescoes are colorful and detailed. Wander the galleries to see more local work that blends Islamic, Arab, and African elements.
On Fridays, visitors can see Sufi rituals at Hamed El-Nil, a cemetery and mausoleum. Rhythmic singing, chanting, spinning, and swaying accompanies dancing, banging drums, and clinking cymbals. Your eyes will have trouble keeping up with the speedy movement of stomping feet. The dervishes dress colorfully and carry green banners, imbuing the air with a joyous energy as the sun sets.
Browse the Omdurman, Al Arabi, and Shabi souks for a fusion of goodies. Browse kiosks of dainty gold chains and thick bangles and bracelets. Men gather around tables to play cards and sip on tea. Women sell coffee infused with sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom at their stands. Fresh piles of the flatbread kisra are tempting, and stacks of fresh bananas and mangoes look as though they have been plucked right from the Garden of Eden. Locals weave through the stalls for dates, spices, and seeds overflowing within round bowls. The whir of the tailors’ sewing machines provides a background noise to this cacophony.
Though fast-paced when compared to Sudan’s rural regions, life in Khartoum is still reminiscent of its ancient roots. Camels still trudge along its streets. A cart pulled by a donkey passes, its white-robed rider smiles and waves. In Khartoum, you will always receive a warm welcome.