Khan el-Khalili Bazaar in Old Cairo, Egypt

Visiting markets wherever you visit is certainly worthwhile, but there is something very special about the bazaars in the middle east. Khan el-Khalili Bazaar in the Old Town Center of Cairo, Egypt, also known as Old Cairo, is certainly one of them. They can be quite busy and you need to be aware of your circumstances to avoid pickpockets or those who might want to take advantage of you. In most bazaars it is usually customary to bargain over the prices and the vendors don’t take offense to it. In fact, to get the best price, you might even start to walk away before the vendor offers a lower price that seems reasonable to you. Haggling, though, does not mean offering a ridiculously low price that might be viewed as an insult.

Restaurant in the Bazaar
Entering One of the Narrow Streets
Many Items for Sale and a Vendor Ready to Bargain

In addition to the crowds, there is likely to be sensory overload with the various smells, colors, and variety of items that can be found within the bazaars. There are spice shops, tobacco shops, artisans selling rugs, hookahs, clothing, pottery, and more. There are also coffee cafes and bistros with local breads as well. The narrow streets of the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar wind in various directions and you could spend hours walking through the shops and bartering for items. We only had a little over half day during our time in Cairo to visit the old historic center and wish we could have spent more time in the bazaar.

Standing in the Bazaar
Archway Near the Entrance to the Bazaar
A Rare Quiet Spot

Old Cairo has many sites to visit and the bazaar is certainly one that should be visited. Some of the other key sites in the area are the Mosque and Madrassa of the Sultan Hasan, Abu Serga Church, the Babylon Fortress, and the historic Ottoman house Bayt Al-Suhaymi are just a few that should be visited as well. Cairo has so many interesting things to see that you could go back several times and always find something new to see.

Lots of People
Using Every Inch of the Bazaar
Very Colorful

Historic Ottoman House in Cairo, Egypt

If you are looking for something of a hidden gem while visiting Cairo, then we would suggest putting Bayt Al-Suhaymi on your list of places to visit. On our final day in Cairo, we made a last minute decision to book an “Islamic Cairo” tour through our hotel and we were certainly not disappointed. We saw several ancient mosques, but just as interesting was wandering the narrow streets of the Old City of Cairo. Just wandering the streets is quite exhilarating, but the highlight was taking a tour of an Ottoman era house that was built in 1648 and is in excellent condition as it was refurbished in 1997 as part of restoration project for the entire area.

The Streets of the Old City of Cairo

Colorful Tiles and Plates

Amazing Architecture in the Old City

Chandelier in Bayt Al-Suhaymi

Looking Down from a Window

One of the Rooms in the House

Standing in the Courtyard

To enter the Old City of Cairo, you go through the Conquest Gate (Bab el Fotouh), which is one of three remaining gates through the walls of the city. As we entered, we were joined by a tourism police officer to ensure our safety in the area, although we didn’t feel that it was particularly needed. We passed by several shops and restaurants on the busy streets with many children on their way home from school. Shortly we arrived at Bayt Al-Suhaymi or House of Suhaymi in order to tour the building that is one of the first Ottoman houses built in Cairo. At the center of the house there is a courtyard called a sahn that features a small garden and some trees. Looking over the courtyard is one of the many beautiful mashrabiya windows that we saw during our tour of the Old City of Cairo.

Conquest Gate

Old City Wall

Just After Walking Through the Gate

Shops in the Old City


Our Escort

Intricate Detail

Showing Its Age

We were able to walk through many of the rooms as we worked our way up through the several floors of the building. Some of the rooms had traditional furniture still inside of them and there was even a sauna in the house that has a colorful ceiling with geometric designs. The house also featured an area in the back with a mill for grinding grain. The architecture is truly what is fascinating when you visit the house. From stained glass windows, many chandeliers, and colorful tile work, it is well worth visiting.

Sitting in the House

Colorful Ceiling

Garden Area in the Back


Sink in the Sauna and Bathroom Area

Dome Inside of the House

Dramatic Chandelier

After leaving the Bayt Al-Suhaymi, we continued on to the Sultan Qalawun Complex, which features more amazing architecture. Afterwards, we wandered through the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, which can be quite crowded as locals and tourists flock to purchase crafts and items in stalls on the narrow streets. The sights, sounds, and aromas can be overwhelming, so take your time to fully absorb everything that you see around you. There are many tours that feature going to the bazaar, but we found the historic Ottoman home to be something very special that few people get to visit.

Walking the Bazaar

Overwhelming Sights

So Much Architecture to See

Protection from the Sun

Dome in the Old City

Beautiful Mosque

Another Minuet