Old Cairo, Islam,
and Modern Egypt
Old Cairo was built by the Romans as a fortress town. Over
1,900 years ago, Egypt embraced the new Christian religion,
known as Coptic. Here in Old Cairo are two historic Coptic
Churches. Coptic Christianity became Egypt's state religion,
and the Copts are now Egypt's largest minority group.
Moslem Arabs conquered Egypt in 640, establishing their
religion ever since. Islamic Cairo presents a forest of
minarets and mosques dating back to the 7th century. It
became one of Islam's first great centers of learning.
Nearby is the Citadel, an Islamic fortress from which Saladin
defeated Christian crusaders during the middle ages.
Overlooking Cairo, the Citadel was home to Egypt's rulers
and a showplace for one new mosque.
The elaborate 18th century Mosque of Mohammed
Ali towers above Cairo from the Citadel.
The mosque boasts multiple domes and
this golden ceiling as part of the interior.
All mosques have a prayer niche facing towards Mecca.
Modern Cairo; high rise buildings border the
Nile, while traffic jams and air pollution bring
everything up to date; the same as other cities.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the Intrepid
Berkeley Explorer's free video of Egypt by clicking on:
King Tut, Ramses, and Me