Geographically African, traditionally and spiritually tending to the Middle East, Egypt is a treasure trove of exotic activities one can experience during the visit to the Land of the Pharaohs. Mesmerizing belly dances and flavored waterpipe, temporary henna tattoos and handicraft, vertiginous tanoura and colorful bazaars will show you this country from the other side.
Egypt gave birth to one of the six independently developing civilizations in the ancient world and the first hieroglyphic writing. The thorough knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, medicine and engineering that was used in different fields keeps impressing the humankind and puzzling scientists over the results of the activity of Egyptians reflected in the architectural heritage reached our days. This land of great mysteries pleases with its diversity, displayed in its culture and customs.
Once a powerful pharaonic kingdom, today it is an Islamic country with its characteristic features, which add Egypt oriental essence, making it doubly interesting.
What can be more enchanting than a beautiful belly dance that holds you spellbound? It’s believed that this Middle Eastern dance existed in AD 1st century, though it was described more precisely only in the 19th century. British traveler William Lane and famous French novelist Gustave Flaubert wrote about privately performed Awalim and public Ghawazee dances they saw during their trip to Egypt. Today there are many places were this magic dance is staged as a part of entertainment – it can be in a hotel, or during the dinner at the Nile cruise ship, or Alf Leila Wa Leila show in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh.
Vivid Tanoura is another dazzling Egyptian dance, which used to be performed by Dervish men during Sufi Festivals; each color of their long skirts corresponded to each Sufi order. However, today whirling Dervishes attract attention with their skillful spectacle rather than the religious component of the dance.
Oriental traditions are reflected perfectly in short-lasting tattoos made of the Egyptian privet, widely known as henna. The art of decorating the body with henna is one of the most popular attractions not only for tourists but locals as well.
Invented in the 16th century, shisha soon became an intrinsic part of everyday life and culture of Egyptians. Flavored tobacco is chiefly widespread in coffee shops and cafes, where people gather to relax and discuss the latest news. Some hotels also offer their customers hookahs. The instrument itself can be found in almost all open-air markets called “bazaar”.
The biggest and the oldest one situated in Islamic Cairo is Khan El Khalili. One has to visit this place, even if he is not planning to buy anything. Once a mausoleum, this market area stuns with its liveliness, colors and variety of the goods on display – the best handmade carpets, jewelry, chandeliers, accessories, everyday-life objects, leather and textile products, as well as fragrant eastern spices and foods, perfumes with the most delicate aromas.
Exploring Oriental Egypt is just as exciting as the monuments dating back to times of the Pharaohs and Roman Emperors.