Culture in Cairo Egypt

Culture in Cairo Egypt
Culture in Cairo Egypt

Cairo has a legacy that spans millennia - even though the present city was built just over a thousand years ago - and stands as a monument to one of the longest-lived empires in the world. With a population of nearly 7 million, the city is the largest in the Arab world and one of the most densely populated on the planet. Cairo also is a very cosmopolitan city, incorporating elements from hundreds of cultures as well as from its own checkered past. The area in which Cairo was built was home to many great cities in Ancient Egypt, and Cairo is located near many of the major cultural sites of Egypt, including the Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx.

In the early fourth century, the Romans established a large town in the area now occupied by Cairo, creating the first large-scale permanent settlement in the region. In the seventh century, the Muslims conquered Egypt and moved the capital from Alexandria to a new city, Fustat, in present-day Cairo. As subsequent dynasties took control over the next centuries, they continued to move the capital slightly north, but always in the region that is now Cairo. In the 10th century, the most-fortified city to date was built, eventually given the name Cairo. Subsequent dynasties, from Saladin to the Mamluks, kept Cairo as their capital, and when the Ottomans conquered Egypt they made Cairo the capital of the territory.

Cairo has one of the richest religious histories in the Middle East. It is the focal point of Coptic Christianity, which broke from the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches in the fifth century. More than 90 percent of Egypt's Christians are Coptics, and they comprise roughly 15 percent to 20 percent of Egypt's population. The vast majority of Cairo's population is Sunni Islam, and Islam permeates the culture. Unlike many Middle Eastern countries, however, the government is secular: Although new laws must agree with the laws of Islam, the constitution forbids parties from holding political agendas. Shi'a Muslims number in the low thousands, as do followers of Baha'i.

Buildings and history play a crucial part in the culture of Cairo, and the city is famed for its abundance of Islamic architecture -leading to one of its epithets, the
"City of a Thousand Minarets." There are many extremely well-preserved mosques in Cairo that are still in use by the city's Muslim population. These include the ninth century Mosque of Ibn-Tulun and the enormous 19th century Muhammad Ali Mosque. Just outside of the city lie some of the most iconic architectural structures in the world: the Great Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx. These are artifacts from the Dynastic Age of Egypt, and for natives of Cairo provide a concrete link to the extensive history of their culture.

Cairo is located just north of the lush Nile River Valley, and the cuisine makes extensive use of fresh vegetables. Bread is the core of any meal in Cairo, and the standard bread is a thick form of pita. Bread is such an integral part of the Egyptian diet that it is subsidized by the government, and bread lines can be seen throughout Cairo. Many of the foods seen in Cairo can be seen throughout the Middle East, including baba ghanoush, tahini, and falafel. The most iconic dish in Cairo is kushari, which is made with macaroni noodles, lentils and rice.

Art and Music
Cairo has an eclectic range of art and music, some dating back thousands of years. The Egyptian National Museum is located in Cairo, and has visual art going back to the great Dynastic Age. Modern visual art relies heavily on multimedia, and work by artists such as Abdel Hadi Al Gazzar and Gazbia Sirry is on display in galleries throughout Cairo. The contemporary music scene includes both modern pop music, which draws from the Western mode, and traditional folk music, incorporating traditional harps, flutes and the stringed oud.
Write your comment now