The Citadel and the mosque of Mohamed Ali gaze over the dusty city by day and shimmer beautifully in green and gold at night. There is much to see and do in the Citadel complex (it has several museums and re-furbished buildings to visit) but the highlight of a visit really is the view you get over the city.
On a good day you can spy the Cairo Tower and the pyramids in the distance, but don't feel disappointed if the Cairo smog puts their form out of reach as your eyes will be kept busy picking out the colour and movement of daily life as it flits across the grey canvas of the city below you. You can see the cars glistening as they drive along the Autostrad road, and this silvery streak through the city almost looks like a branch of the Nile. See if you can spot the different historic minaret styles that give a clue to the date of each mosque’s construction in he surrounding area.
If you can visit the Citadel on a Friday then do so: although you aren't able to go inside the Mohamed Ali mosque during Friday prayers, you can time a visit to experience the striking sounds of the call to prayer as it rings out across Cairo. To be looking out from the Citadel when the call to prayer goes out in the city of a thousand minarets is breathtaking.
There is no nearby metro station, so you will have to take a taxi to the Citadel. Try to take a "white" taxi as these have meters, which mean you avoid any confusion over payment. Ask for “gamaa Mohamed Ali” (Mohamed Ali mosque) or “il all ail qalla” (Citadel)
Informal curries cooked and served in the grounds of the Edinburgh Central Mosque. Tasty, portions big enough to satisfy my growing 14 year old, variety enough for a seven year old, and catering for both vegetarians and carnivores. Best of all perhaps: a fabulous variety of non-alcoholic drinks from cans of coconut milk to doubtful highly coloured fizzy concoctions. A treat for all the family without breaking the bank. Take a jumper as the eatery is open air (marquee style roof to keep off the rain).
Potterrow, behind the National Museum of Scotland, near to the University - the minaret is a clue.
Google map: bit.ly/b3P3jl
Ibn Tulun Mosque is the oldest mosque in Egypt and one of the oldest in the world (approx 1200 years old), most notable for its minaret based on the famous one at Saqqara. It's eerily deserted, something I did not expect, and is off the beaten track for tourists (though I went in July) - a must see.
I have lived in Istanbul for 14 months. The Sultan-ahmet area is the best for tourism and it is the location of the old city of Byzantium. It is also where you can find the St. Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque and Topkai Surai (Ottoman Place).
Any taxi can take you there
This beautiful mosque from 1821 was one of the highlights of the city centre (north of the river). Its old-fashioned architecture provides an intriguing contrast to the communist blocks across Tirana which have been painted bright colours in an attempt to liven them up. Inside, there’s also some beautiful artwork and decoration.
Google map: tinyurl.com/nqtfrf
This is one of the most magical places I have ever been, yet for a long time this place was due to be submerged under the waters of the GAP project dam. I'm pretty sure that has been abandoned which is great as this town can finally move out of limbo and begin to capitalise on their wonderful natural and historic gifts.
Situated on the banks of the Tigris, this truly feels like an ancient place. To summarise, Hasankeyf is surrounded by gorges, it has a beautiful mosque as well as other historic buildings of note peppered around the countryside, it has an impressive Roman bridge and yet practically zero tourists!!
Please visit this place. When I was there in 2003 the locals were at a loss with the prospect of not just their home but their ancient culture being wiped from existence. Help be part of securing Hasankeyf's place on the world map where it belongs.
Hasankeyf is in the Kurdish part of south east Turkey. The nearest large city is Batman. It is also accessible from Mardin, a wonderful place in itself.
Turkey is more than just Istanbul and the coast! The old cities of medieval Anatolia and Armenia are not to be missed.
Sivas is on a high plain in the middle of the country, and boasts some interesting monuments from the Ilkhanid and Seljuk periods. It was also the site of one of the early Republican congresses. A short drive takes one into the surrounding hills, where lakes, caves, and pastures make great hiking, fishing, and picnicing.
Divrigi is in a mountainous area, and may not be reached in the winter. It has, hands down, the most spectacular mosque in the country. Built in the 1220s, the carving on it has no parallel in architecture anywhere, which gives rise to theories about the workers and designers: crusaders from the British Isles, Georgian stone masons, etc. It is now a UNESCO site, but probably the least visited in the world, due to its remote location.
The town itself has some pretty old houses, two ruined churches, a crumbling citadel and some tombs. The mountains, and valley of one of the tributarties of the Euphrates, contribute to the atmosphere, which is helped by the fact that there are almost no tourists. The locals are v. friendly and helpful, but v. little English is spoken. Look carefully at a map, and drive in and out in a day, as there is no truly recommendable hotel here.
Any decent guidebook will carry the name of a few reputable, and friendly, establishments. If you're leaving from Istanbul, the concierge of your hotel there may be able to help.
Besyhir is a small town on the road between Konya and the southern coast. It has a quite unique and beautiful mosque which unlike most is wooden. Its roof is supported by pillars made from huge cedar tree trunks. In the centre of the roof there is a hole which can be opened when it rains to allow water to fill a pool in the centre of the mosque which stops the wooden pillars from drying out too much. The imam is very friendly and quite keen to show visitors around.
The easiest way is to drive either coming down from Konya towards the coast around Side or drive up from the coast towards it.
As I was writing my degree dissertation about the Moorish occupation of Spain a visit to one of the most famous mosques in the world was a must for me. It is a visit which I will never forget as the mosque is more beautiful than I could ever imagine. The mosque in Córdoba is a must-see monument in Spain as pictures in brochures just don't do justice to its elegance and innovative design. The red and white horseshoe arches provide an airy feel to the place and allow for intended contemplation and prayer. Don't miss both the Patio de los Naranjos with its cleansing fountains and orange trees blooming underneath the cathedral belfry tower (which you can sometimes climb for views of the mosque and Córdoba) and the mihrab inside the mosque - the marble design of which has been copied throughout Spain and north Africa.
Corregidor, Córdoba - a 15 min walk or bus ride from the bus station which is situated to the north of the city centre. Entrance fee is 6.50 euro.
Opening hours: April-Sept, Mon-Sat 10am-7.30pm, Sun 2-7.30pm. Oct-March, Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm, Sun 2-6.30pm.
An area of the centre of town that has some really beautiful temples hidden away behind vendors and down slightly worrying alleys! You can nearly always find a kind local who will be willing to show you around.
There is a tomb of Ahmed Shah which has amazing celings and latice work - if you take a wander across the street there is the tomb of his wife and all the female members of the Shah family which is slightly more delapadated but worth a look.
Behind the main tomb there is an absolutely enormous mosque (I think it's called Jami Masjid) which is really beautiful. Mind the marbel though - it gets really hot. In the main section there are millions of coloums that are all hand carved and pretty incredible. Look up!
In the Manek Chowk area there is also a good market to have a wander around. Worth a few hours of your time.
North of the centre on the MG road
Sultan Hassan Mosque is an amazing piece of Mamluk architecture and a must for anybody visiting Cairo. Bab al-Shariah is a place I visited with my friend's family. Native Egyptians live and work there amid the hustle and bustle and there are all kinds of shops with merchandise at affordable prices.
Sultan Hasan Mosque is near the citadel. Bab al-Shariah is near the Al-Azhar and Al-Hussein mosques
It's actually possible to escape the crowds and the noise in Cairo, although you have to put up with a lot of both on the way. I would recommend Beit el-Suhaymi, a wonderful, labyrinthine Islamic house-turned-museum where you can really picture how the large families used to live.
Before or afterwards take a stroll around the north of Khan al-Khalili market. Away from the hassle of the market stalls you see a bit of real innercity life. I am female and, being there on my own, I didn't feel hassled at all in this part. Be sure to respect their dress code though.
Another tip is go to the Mosque of Sulayman Pasha when at the Citadel. Around the Citadel itself, in particular the Muhammad Ali mosque, was very busy, but the simpler, smaller mosque felt like a peaceful oasis and has lovely mosaics.
Beit el-Suhaymi, Khan al-Khalili market and the Citadel are all located within the city centre.
It is the largest mosque in Lahore and one of the largest in the world. In fact, there are reports that it has the largest courtyard in the world. It was built by Aurangzeb, the last Great Mughul Emperor of India in a record time of 2 and half years.
I recommend it because without a visit to this mosque your trip to Lahore shall remain incomplete.
Badshahi mosque is in old Lahore area, adjacent to Fort of Lahore.
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