Cairo

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Alexandria

During the summer, many take the 225km (140 miles) journey northwest from Cairo to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. Named after Alexander the Great, the attractive city is filled with Greek heritage and offers a relaxed European ambience. Its most famous sight is the world famous Bibliotheca Alexandria, a stunning piece of contemporary architecture, housing museums, planetarium and regular cultural events. The landmark Citadel of Qaitbai was built in 1479 allegedly on the site of, and from the stones of, the Lighthouse of Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Other noteworthy attractions include the marble Kom al-Dikka (Roman Amphitheatre) and delicate mosaics.

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Alexandria
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Birqash Camel Market

Egypt’s largest camel market takes place just outside the village of Birqash (pronounced Bir’ash), approximately 35km (22 miles) northwest of Cairo. Each Monday and Friday morning, camel traders from all over Egypt and as far afield as Sudan, sell their beasts in a hubbub of sights, sounds and smells – a unique experience. Visitors have to pay an admission fee, and extra for a camera (a must). The most convenient way to make the 45-minute journey is by taxi. Visitors should negotiate a waiting time: most drivers will be happy to wait or come back at a pre-arranged time. It is also possible to travel by public transport.

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Birqash Camel Market
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Memphis

Memphis is about 3km (2 miles) away from Saqqara. This ancient capital is known as the oldest known royal city in the world. Founded in 3100BC during the 1st Dynasty, it was the royal capital for 500 years and remained occupied in all for a total of 4,000 years. Sadly, not much remains today of what was one of the grandest cities in the world, but the small museum and scattering of statues is a good appetiser for the more stunning remains at Saqqara.

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Memphis
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Mosque Madrassa of Sultan Hassan

Covering 7,900 sq m (85,000 sq ft), this is one of the largest mosques in the world and the finest early Mamluk structure in Cairo. It was built between 1356 and 1363 and encompasses a stunning courtyard, four madrassas (theology schools) and a mausoleum flanked by huge doors. Visitors should go in the morning when the sun lights up the dark mausoleum.

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Mosque Madrassa of Sultan Hassan
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