The Best Museums to Visit in Cairo
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo | © Diego Delso / WikiCommons
From rich Islamic and Coptic history to the ancient Egyptians, Egypt has one of the richest cultures in the world. As the capital, Cairo is home to some great museums that protect and showcase Egypt’s unique history. Here are a few that shouldn’t be missed.
The Egyptian Museum
Millions of tourists head to The Egyptian Museum
every year to look at the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities. The museum extends over two floors: the ground floor features a chronological journey through Egypt’s 5000-year history through 160,000 objects, while the upper floor is home to changing exhibitions grouped by category. These have previously included Tutankhamun’s tomb, divinity statues, and implements from everyday life.
Abdeen Palace Museum
Building, History Museum
Located in the Old Cairo
district of Abdeen, the grand Abdeen Palace used to serve as the principal workplace of the president of Egypt. Today it is a museum, and is home to many sumptuous adornments and paintings. The lower floor contains the Silver Museum, Arms Museum, Royal Family Museum, Presidential Gifts Museum, and the Historical Documents Museum.
Manial Palace Museum
Dating back to the Ottoman
dynasty, the Manial Palace Museum is located in the El-Manial district of southern Cairo. It is also known as Prince Mohammed Ali Tawfik Palace, as it was built by him. The beautiful palace is a mix of European and Ottoman, Persian and Moorish styles. The sumptuous furniture and interiors showcase the lifestyle of the Egyptian prince.
The Coptic Museum
Art Museum, History Museum
Much of Cairo’s charm derives from its mishmash of different religions and cultures. This museum represents Cairo’s multiculturalism. Founded in 1908, the museum houses Coptic art, starting from the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt. There’s an elaborate woodcarving section, sculptures from the Ptolemaic period, rich textiles and monastery frescoes. On the first floor you can find the world’s oldest book of psalms, the Psalms of David, with two original wooden covers.
Museum of Islamic Art
Located in central Cairo, the Museum of Islamic Art
is one of the largest museums in the world specialising in Islamic art. The museum comprises around 100,000 artefacts from various periods of Islamic history. It also houses manuscripts from diverse Islamic sciences including medicine, engineering, astronomy and more. Jewellery, weapons, wood and ivory objects, textiles, and carpets showcasing fine Islamic workmanship are also part of the collection. In 2014, the museum was damaged by a car bomb, which destroyed many artefacts; it reopened in early 2017.
Egyptian Textile Museum
Moez Al-Din Street is one of Cairo’s oldest streets, dating back to the Fatimid dynasty (10-12th centuries). Located here is the Egyptian Textile Museum. The building is an architectural wonder dating from the Ottoman period. The textiles within come from the Pharaonic, Roman, Islamic and Coptic periods and cultures, and include clothes, bed sheets, mummy covers and cushions–even diapers.
Art Museum, History Museum
The Gayer-Anderson Museum was one of the two Cairo homes of British officer and physician Gayer Anderson, an Egyptian culture fanatic. It is located in the Sayyida Zeinab neighbourhood, facing the famous Mosque of Ibn Tulun. The museum displays furniture, carpets, textiles and other objects, exemplifying the beautiful domestic architecture of Cairo.
The Egyptian National Military Museum
Located inside one of Cairo’s most visited attractions, the Cairo Citadel
, the Egyptian National Military Museum displays unique ancient artefacts that date from Pharanoic to modern times. As the building was once part of a palace, the museum has high ceilings with plasterwork decorations. On display are military artefacts, and sculptures of past kings, army officials and politicians. There are several wings, including an area dedicated to the Suez Canal. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Cairo Citadel and the panoramic views from the Mosque of Muhammed Ali, which is also inside the Citadel.
October War Panorama
The October War Panorama Museum is dedicated in the memory of the 1973 October War, also known as the Arab-Israeli war. The museum displays military vehicles, tanks, aircrafts and weapons used during the war. There are also two documentaries about the war shown; one of them is screened on a 360-degree rotating platform, and depicts Egyptian soldiers storming the Bar-Lev Line on the Suez Canal.