In the City of Love and Art
Princess Aisha Fahmy Palace
After 15 years of restoration, Princess Aisha Fahmy Palace opens its doors to the public. Boasting an extensive collection of art pieces, furniture, wall motifs, silk portraits and bright colors dating back to King Farouk’s era, the palace is a true art-lover haven, overlooking the Nile from the lush neighborhood of Zamalek.
Um Kulthum Museum
Previously a building of the Manesterly Palace at Al Rawda area, the Ministry of Culture commemorated the singing sensation Um Kulthum, also known as “Kawkab Al Sharq,” to make sure her unparalleled voice echoed for generations to come. Her voice can still be heard in Egypt on everyday basis, but the Museum brings back a piece of her life through real images, documents and private possessions that have been collected over the years and preserved with great effort from the Egyptian Culture Ministry. Make sure you visit the panorama hall for a full recap of Um Kulthum’s life and musical concerts.
Museum of Islamic Arts
One must-see museum when visiting Cairo is the Museum of Islamic Arts. Relocated from its original home at the Fatimid Mosque of al-Hakim, the museum owns an impressive collection of artwork and artefacts, including the largest collection in the world of Mamluk dynasty gilded lamps, which illustrate Egyptian culture from the 7th century up until the 19th. The Museum of Islamic Arts has been an inspiration for many artists’ work and continues to be a sensational attraction for anyone with an interest in arts and culture. English and French brochures are available upon request.
Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Palace
Built in 1915, the Palace is the lesser-known counterpart to the Museum of Islamic arts. Nonetheless, it is just as fascinating. Boasting 208 works from the impressionist school, the school that laid the ground for the fine arts movement in the 20th century, represented by artists like Paul Gauguin, Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, John Jongkind and Charles Francois Daubigny. The museum's assets also include masterpieces of artists like Eugene Fromentin. Take a few minutes to admire the building itself too – the entrance of the palace features several 19th century styles like Arnoveau and neo-classic.
The Gayer-Anderson Museum
One of Cairo’s well hidden gems, and a place with a rather rich history, the Gayer Anderson Museum was actually the home at which English Major Gayer Anderson resided. After vacating the premises due to his ill health, he donated the house and its contents, which he collected from all over Egypt, to the Egyptian government and was granted the title of Pasha in return by King Farouk himself. The house is a haven for art and architecture lovers, with the plus side of its contents dating back to the 18th century and before. The location has been very well preserved. Make sure to visit the ceremonial reception hall and the roof-top terrace where the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, was shot.
Mahmoud Mokhtar Museum
Created in commemoration of the father of modern Egyptian sculpture, Mahmoud Mokhtar, the museum beautifully displays some of the late sculptor’s most prominent pieces. The brilliant sculptor’s pieces have been proudly displayed, and still are, all over Egypt – most famous of which are the “Egypt’s Renaissance” sculpture located in front of Cairo University. There are no guides available, so reading up on Mahmoud Mokhtar before going will make the trip more significant.
Gezira Center for Modern Art
A must-have experience for art lovers, Gezira Center for Modern Arts exhibits the evolution and art movements that Egypt has gone through, by displaying over 10,000 pieces by world renown Egyptian Artists. The evolution of calligraphy and works by several major international impressionist artists including Monet and Van Gogh are included. Visitors can also visit the adjacent National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
Across Civilizations in Cairo
The Egyptian Museum
Established in the late 19th century under Auguste Mariette and previously housed in Boulaq, the Egyptian Museum, now located in Tahrir Square, is an adventure on its own. With over a 100 halls boasting artefacts from the prehistoric through the Roman periods, with the majority of the collection focused on the Pharaonic era, the museum will fly you back over 5,000 years of Egypt's past. Both Arabic and English labels make it easy for observers to understand the stories, and promise to leave you in awe after an exhilarating day with legendary kings and queens and their incredible lives. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking.
Located right at the heart of where Pharaonic history was written, the Imhotep Museum displays a vast collection of mummies, causeway findings and depictions from the 19th Dynasty families. Composed of six large halls, each containing different collections; this museum will have you hooked from the minute you enter, across the archaeological findings from various excavations and all the way until the burial items from the New Kingdom. Look on-site for the gallery dedicated to Jean-Philippe Lauer, the French Egyptologist who spent 75 years working at the Djoser Complex.
The Coptic Museum
Inaugurated in 1910, The Coptic Museum hosts all findings discovered in Christian sites all over Egypt. Among the collection are royal funerary stelae, religious Pharaonic art and Coptic art symbolizing the abundant rituals and legends that were tradition-of-the-time, and ending with resurrection necessities. Along the way, untold stories and unturned stones will enlighten and astonish you at the same time. Visit Coptic Cairo all at once for the ultimate intriguing educational experience.
Egyptian Geological Museum
Established in 1896 under the Egyptian Geological Survey initiative led by Khedive Ismail, the Egyptian Geological Museum now sits in Maadi, and houses a significant collection of reconstructed fossil skeletons, Fayoum vertebrates, the story of Egypt’s evolution told through examples of its national history, and the crown-jewel of the collection is the Martian meteorite that had landed in one of Egypt’s villages. Since the museum holds a lot of educational information, a guide service is offered for a small fee.
Children’s Civilization and Creativity Center (Child’s Museum)
This museum exhibits several aspects of Egyptian history in both video and audio, making it interesting for all ages. The Museum also holds occasional activities for kids, parent-child activities and even summer camps. Located in Heliopolis, the museums artefacts are contributions from museums and institutes all over the world to aid in child education. In May 2012 it won the UK's Museum and Heritage International Award. Many of the facilities are prepared for kids and adults, so dress the role and be prepared to become a kid again along with your child.
Located in Dokki, Giza, this treasure trove takes you back on a journey through the Pharaonic era and all the way to modern Egypt. From how cotton was first brought to Egypt and the ancient machinery and equipment used to harvest it, to different types of rare birds and extinct animals that many did not eve know exist; this is a mind-boggling museum for science and culture fans alike. The museum complex is composed of five buildings, each discussing different aspects of agriculture, make sure you do not linger too long so you do not miss seeing the rest.
An Eye For Architecture
Manial Palace Museum
Manial Palace tells the story of botanical eloquence and architectural grandeur of a time when Egypt had it all. Persian gardens, Islamic décor and calligraphic designs enclosed in lavish mix of architecture inspired by several movement including Art Nouveau, Ottoman, Rococo, and Moorish. The estate is composed of five separate buildings, each with a different style combination. Make sure to ask about King Farouk’s hunting lodge Museum while you are there.
Abdeen Palace Museum
This is one for the war buffs. The building that houses the Museum is located within the palace estate, but isolated from the palace itself. The palace has been closed off as a residence for the president of Egypt, and hence no visitors are allowed. However, gardens leading into the beautifully designed estate give a lovely introduction to the museum that has a vast collection of very well-displayed arms, weaponry, and gifts from different kings around the world and from different eras. This is a museum that is not very popular, but very much worth a visit. Cameras are allowed in for a small admission fee, and books describing each section of the museum in different languages are available for purchasing.
Bayt Al Suahymi
Previously belonging to one of medieval Cairo’s richest residents, Sheikh El Suhaymi, the house is built around a central area that contains a fountain and garden. This little haven in the middle of El Gamaelya area will take you back in time to when even homes in Egypt incorporated fine details and beautifully intricate Islamic architecture. Visit during the fall or winter seasons to avoid over-heating since a lot of walking and no air conditioning are entailed.