The pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza may draw Egypt’s biggest crowds, but a half-mile stretch of medieval architecture — recognized by the United Nations as the largest collection in the Islamic world — is the best place to learn about past and contemporary Cairo. Even better? While popular among locals, this fascinating, historic street remains mostly unknown to tourists.
Al-Muizz Street, located in Cairo’s Islamic neighborhood, is the oldest operating street in Egypt’s capital. This 10th-century path stretches between two of three remaining gates in the old walled city of Cairo. In the 10th century, only the high-class Fatimid royalty (the ruling Shi’i Muslims from North Africa), could access the interior of the gated city. But after slave soldiers (the Mamluk) seized the country in 1250, they opened the gates to all Egyptians. In 1997, Egypt’s government caught on to the historic treasure trove, and dedicated over 10 years of renovations to turn this neglected piece of Islamic history into a highly trafficked “open-air museum.”