stephen arnold xSTQzSLJA4c unsplash

Why is Cairo the Capital of Egypt?

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!

Why is Cairo the Capital of Egypt?

Cairo is a large and bustling city in the African country of Egypt, located on the banks of the Nile River. It is the most populous city in Egypt, with an estimated 8.8 million people living within its metropolitan area borders.

Cairo serves as the cultural and political center of Egypt and is home to many important landmarks and attractions, including the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Egyptian Museum, and the iconic Mohammed Ali Mosque. It is also a major tourist destination with plenty of places to shop and explore.

The city has been the political capital of Egypt since the 10th century, but there are a few different theories as to why it came to hold this prestigious title.

The legends behind Cairo’s selection as the political capital

One of the more romantic theories behind Cairo’s selection as the political capital of Egypt relates to a strange series of events that began in the year 969 AD. According to an ancient legend, an alchemist who was travelling in search of all-important elixir of life had made his way from Cairo to the northern shore of Lake Qaroun. From there, he allegedly encountered a mysterious creature known as a “sheisy” – which the alchemist believed could tell him the secret formula for immortality.

He followed this creature all the way back to Cairo – and, upon his return, declared that no other city should ever serve as the capital of Egypt. According to this legend, Cairo is said to have been chosen as the capital of Egypt shortly thereafter and it has been so ever since.

How Cairo became an influential hub in Egyptian politics

Though it’s uncertain whether or not this story played a role in influencing the choice of Cairo as the Egyptian capital, the city certainly had many other factors going for it.

For starters, Cairo’s position at the head of a broad bay of navigable waters on the Mediterranean Sea made it well-suited as a major port and gateway to Africa. Its position on the banks of both the Nile and Red Sea further enhanced its trade power, plus its close proximity to important gold mines in Nubia meant that luxury goods could be easily imported via land or sea.

In addition to its strategic location, many Egyptians also consider Cairo an important spiritual centre – especially after the founding of its ancient Al-Azhar Mosque in 970 AD. This mosque is considered to be the most important Islamic learning centre in the world and is home to religiously-minded citizens from all over the world.

All these reasons combined made Cairo an ideal choice for political control over such a vast country, influencing it to remain so for centuries.


Cairo has spent centuries serving as Egypt’s political capital, both under Ottoman rule and under modern local governments. While there may be some disagreement as to why it was chosen – be it because of its strategic maritime position or a mysterious force – its rich history, culture, and religious significance definitely make sense when considering why it was chosen over any other Egyptian city. Furthermore, its economic and cultural power continues to ensure that it remains an influential hub in Egyptian politics – both now and in years to come.

For more information about why Cairo is the capital of Egypt and its centuries-long history as a political center, check out this article from Yale University which delves deeper into this subject.

Insider’s Guide to Cairo, the Capital of Egypt

As one of the oldest cities in the world with diverse cultures and rich history, Cairo offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Here’s our insider’s guide to help you explore and enjoy the city’s attractions, dining options, cultural experiences, local history, and off-the-beaten-path suggestions.

Discover Must-Visit Attractions in Cairo

Cairo is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in Egypt, including the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum. These attractions are must-visit destinations that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

The Pyramids of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, are the highlight of any Cairo trip. Be amazed by the sheer size and the architectural brilliance of the pyramids, and take a camel ride to get a feel for how the ancient Egyptians may have traversed the desert.

Besides the pyramids, the Sphinx is a mysterious and stunning monument that’s worth visiting. Admire the massive stone statue of a lion with the head of a human and marvel at its 5,000-year-old history.

Finally, the Egyptian Museum is the perfect place to learn about Ancient Egyptian history. The museum’s collection of artifacts and exhibits are a treasure trove of culture and history that showcases the art and relics of Ancient Egypt’s civilization.

Savor the Culinary Delights of Cairo

Cairo’s culinary scene is as diverse and multi-cultural as its history. Explore and indulge in traditional Egyptian cuisine or treat yourself to a diverse selection of international food options.

Koshary is a popular Egyptian street food that you must try. It’s a hearty dish made of macaroni, lentils, chickpeas, vermicelli noodles, and spicy tomato sauce, topped with fried onion. El Abd Bakery is known to serve some of the best Koshary in Cairo.

Mince, liver, and stuffed kebabs are some of the famous Egyptian meat dishes. For those with a sweet tooth, the Baklava pastry at Feteera Ashrafi Bakery is a delicious must-try dessert.

Experience the Unique Culture of Cairo

Cairo’s culture and traditions are an amalgamation of Ancient Egyptian, Islamic, and contemporary influences. From local markets to cultural dance performances, there’s always something exciting to experience in Cairo.

Explore the local markets or “Souqs” where you can barter for traditional artifacts and souvenirs. Khan el-Khalili, one of the most famous souks in Cairo, is a vibrant and bustling market where you can buy jewelry, textiles, and traditional spices.

Enjoy traditional dance performances of the famous Egyptian Belly dance or indulge in Egyptian music and folklore art exhibit at the Family of Folk Music.

Discover the Local History and Hidden Gems of Cairo

Cairo’s roots date back over 5,000 years, and it has continually remained a vibrant and evolving city. Explore the city’s hidden gems and lesser-known sites that showcase Cairo’s diverse history.

The Citadel of Saladin, which overlooks the city from a hill, is a spectacular military fortification that has guarded Cairo since the time it was built in the year 1176. Enjoy the beautiful view of the city from the citadel.

If you’re looking for a more unconventional adventure, take a stroll down Al Moez Street. One of the oldest streets in Cairo, it contains several historic sites and cultural landmarks like the Al-Azhar University and El-Fishawy Cafe.

In conclusion, Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is a vibrant city that offers a unique experience to travelers. Whether you’re interested in exploring the ancient relics of the pyramids or savoring the culinary delights, Cairo has something to offer for everyone. With this insider’s guide, you’re ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure that will leave you with memories of this wonderful city.

stephen arnold xSTQzSLJA4c unsplash

Why is Cairo the Capital of Egypt?

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!