An alley of the Khan el Khalili market.
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Cairo’s Khan el Khalili Market

Cairo’s most famous market, also known as “souk,” has been around since the 1500s. It’s popular with tourist and Egyptian shoppers alike; though like many “tourist” places in Egypt it was pretty lacking in tourists who looked like me. Come to Egypt, one and all!

Khan (the k is not pronounced) means ruler or king. Khalili refers to Prince Jaharkas Al-Khalili.

Khan el Khalili was on my list of things to see right away. I was interested in looking at the market’s famous gold and silver jewelry. I also wanted to find a Turkish coffee pot. I did a lot of window shopping and didn’t end up buying anything, but I may have to think about making room in my suitcases for some of the unique copper lanterns. The merchants weren’t pushy and let me browse in peace for the most part!

The market is situated next to a large mosque called Al-Hussein. Next to the mosque is a row of historic coffee and tea shops, where I stopped for some mint tea and people watching. Smoking shisha/hookah (water pipes with different flavors of tobacco) is a common pastime here also. It was a busy Saturday and lots of local tourists and families were milling around, making a visit to the mosque and souk.

For my next visit, I would like to come back in the evening. Cairo seems to come alive at night.

Check out the day tours by Emo Tours. Mine included the Museum of Egyptian AntiquitiesCitadel with the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, the Khan el Khalili Market and a stop at Abou Tarek Koshary.


Courtyard with Al-Hussein Mosque behind it serves as an entry point for the market.

Courtyard with Al-Hussein Mosque behind it serves as an entry point for the market.


Row of coffee shops on the way to the market. Can you spot the people smoking shisha?

Row of coffee shops on the way to the market. Can you spot the people smoking shisha?


Speaking of shisha, you can buy your own pipe to take home with you.

Speaking of shisha, you can buy your own pipe to take home with you.


The colors and designs of these small bowls are so appealing! Think they’ll survive the journey back to the U.S.?

The colors and designs of these small bowls are so appealing! Think they’ll survive the journey back to the U.S.?


The perforated copper lanterns are so romantic. I’ve got my eye on you…

The perforated copper lanterns are so romantic. I’ve got my eye on you…


More lanterns lined this wide alley.

More lanterns lined this wide alley.


Candleholders and lanterns. I’ve learned that the Hamsa is a palm-shaped design commonly used in jewelry and wall hangings.

Candleholders and lanterns. I’ve learned that the Hamsa is a palm-shaped design commonly used in jewelry and wall hangings.


Light fixtures and chandeliers.

Light fixtures and chandeliers.


This street featured the gold shops (some were closed) and street food. Do you see the flatbread vendor?

This street featured the gold shops (some were closed) and street food. Do you see the flatbread vendor?


Gold and silver street.

Gold and silver street.


The other side of the mosque. Can you see the policeman on horseback patrol? Or the woman balancing a bucket on her head?

The other side of the mosque. Can you see the policeman on horseback patrol? Or the woman balancing a bucket on her head?


Heading back into the heart of the market. The eye design on the wall is the Eye of Horus, which is a symbol for protection. I’ve seen women wearing necklaces with the shape.

Heading back into the heart of the market. The eye design on the wall is the Eye of Horus, which is a symbol for protection. I’ve seen women wearing necklaces with the shape.


Decorative beads.

Decorative beads.


T-shirts, belly dancing gear and figurines.

T-shirts, belly dancing gear and figurines.


A baladi bread seller appeared behind us with a balancing act on his head!

A baladi bread seller appeared behind us with a balancing act on his head!


Should I get a necklace with my name in Arabic?

Should I get a necklace with my name in Arabic?


Mint tea in front of Al-Hussein Mosque.

Mint tea in front of Al-Hussein Mosque.

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4 thoughts on “Cairo’s Khan el Khalili Market

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