Khan El Khalili Bazaar is one of Cairo’s most beautiful tourist places. It is famous for its long history, and local artisans make the things you can buy here.
You can’t go to Cairo without taking a Khan El Khalili market tour. This market is colorful, noisy, crowded, and exciting, with many different items and shiny trinkets for sale.
You can find traditional Egyptian items, but don’t let that get into your shopping. Instead, look for things that are more unique than what you can find elsewhere. For example, you can buy all kinds of herbs from the nearby spice market.
There are a lot of different combinations of essences and essential oils on the perfume market. You will find most of the products and stalls as you move towards the center, including gold sellers, textile sellers, carpet sellers, and sellers of just about anything else you might want.
In this article, we’ll take you through discovering this bazaar in Cairo, one of the most famous markets in the country, and give you valuable tips for your purchases during a trip to Egypt!
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Khan El Khalili Bazaar in Cairo
Khan El Khalili is Africa’s oldest and most important market, and its first written records date back to the early Middle Ages. The shopping center has already used more than 5,000 square meters of space.
For hundreds of years, the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar in Old Cairo has been the most popular place in the city. People gather there, talk about the news, and shop.
Over the years, not much has changed. More than 3,000 people come here daily because the market is still well known. Tourists love this place because it has a taste and atmosphere they cannot find anywhere else.
Don’t worry about getting lost or mixing up the products. Khan El Khalili Bazaar is a real neighborhood where everyone knows each other and is friendly and ready to help.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask the dealers themselves because they most likely know where you can find it.
You should walk around this confusing neighborhood even if you don’t want to shop. Even if you don’t find anything interesting, it’s worth walking around to see the ancient buildings, mosques, palaces, museums, and traditional restaurants and cafes.
And most importantly, you will be able to enjoy the bright colors that make this place unique and feel the happy atmosphere.
People who love shopping and tourists who want to see the ancient buildings that make this part of Cairo famous will enjoy Khan El Khalili.
Where is the Khan al Khalili market in Cairo, and how to get there?
Khan El Khalili Market is one of the most famous markets in all of Egypt, but also in the Middle East. This historical marker is located precisely in the heart of Cairo, in the commercial area of Al-Hussein Square, in a medieval fortress where you are surrounded by Mamluk art, typical above all of this Islamic part of the capital.
Inside, a calm maze of streets where any traveler will find themselves catapulted into a place full of spicy scents, swirling lights, and colors. In addition to shops selling souvenirs and typical products, it will also be possible to see mosques, museums, palaces, historical buildings, and some old cafes where you can rest.
The market is in the old part of Cairo, near the Al-Hussein Mosque. Nearby, there are a lot of shopping centers and cafes.
The easiest way to get to the bazaar is by taxi, and the most affordable is by metro. Go to the Green Line’s Bab Sharia station and walk south for 15 minutes.
How Old Is Khan El Khalili? When was Khan El Khalili built?
This market has been around since the 14th century. Prince Karkas al-Khalili built it near the tomb of Zaafaran, where the Fatimid rulers of Egypt were usually buried.
This building was part of a project to rebuild the city after the Black Death destroyed it in the 13th and 14th centuries. The project was led by Sultan Barquq (1381-1399).
The souk has been much more modernized today, but some parts still show the Mamluk period’s original architecture, with its arched gates and vaulted ceilings.
The Architecture of the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar in Cairo
The architecture of this Cairo market perfectly mirrors the Islamic and Mamluk architecture, as well as the buildings, palaces, and mosques preserved within the fortified area in which it is located, representing the old part of the capital. Indeed, originally Cairo was open only to royalty, military, and state officials, extending access only after 1171, with the fall of the Fatimid Caliphate. This event was followed by the fortification of a new area of the city, the Citadel of Saladin.
What can I buy at Khan El Khalili?
In the market area, there are a lot of things for sale. There are the usual cheap souvenirs and unique items local people make.
In Cairo’s Khan El Khalili, you can buy big rings with emeralds and pearls, necklaces with sapphires, bracelets with onyx and hematite, earrings with sapphires and cubic zirconias, and so on. Since local craftspeople make them, all jewelry has oriental designs.
Remember that jewelry with precious stones is expensive, and don’t mix it up with cheap fakes from China, which there are a lot of.
In any Asian market, you can find long lines of people selling bright, fragrant spices from all over the East. There is a lot to choose from. In Khan al-Khalil, you can buy the famous black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, clove inflorescences, ginger, calamus seeds, marigolds, garcinia, and hyssop, which is unusual for Europeans.
The seasoning is cheap, and you can’t buy a similar product in a store for less.
This is probably the most exciting part of the market. There are a lot of cool things to buy here. For example, old Aladdin lamps, most of which are from the 19th century, Egyptian woven goods, metal figurines, painted vessels, and much more.
Before going to the bazaar, it’s a good idea to learn what old souvenirs look like so you don’t spend much money on a fake.
All of the East Asian countries have their ways of making carpets. Egyptian carpets are known for their warm colors and many geometric shapes, especially squares. Unlike Iranian or Azerbaijani, Egyptian rugs haven’t many parts so they can be used in any modern room.
5- Leather things
Khan El Khalili’s most essential leather goods are sandals, bags, jackets, belts, and jackets. Local craftspeople make them in the bazaar, so you can order a one-of-a-kind accessory if you need to.
Hookahs were first made in India, but now they are trendy in Egypt. Many shops in Khan El Khalili Bazaar sell hookahs that are different in size, shape, and color. Prices vary a lot, and you can get a cheap copy from China or a beautiful piece with gems inlaid from a local artisan.
Pay attention to multicolored glass lamps if you want a cheap, pretty, helpful souvenir from Egypt. Not only do they look colorful, but they also make any room look better.
The Khan El Khalili Bazaar also sells blown glass figurines, different patterned lampshades, and paintings with stained glass panels.
8- Ceramic products
The designs and quality of Cairo Ceramics are well-known. At the bazaar, you should look at the dishes, tea sets, and vases with geometric patterns.
On the market grounds, two small shops sell furniture and home decorations (paintings, bedspreads, curtains, and bedside lamps). The prices are pretty high, but the quality is good. It’s unlikely that you’ll find something important here worth buying, but it’s worth buying a small table or a beautiful painting from a local artist.
Things to do in Khan El Khalili Bazaar
You can visit one of the luxurious palaces of princes and wealthy merchants in the market, walk through the crowded and winding streets, and look at jewelry and other items made of stone, copper, glass, and leather.
El-Fishawy Café is the oldest café in Cairo. It is decorated with large mirrors and old furniture, giving it a very Egyptian feel. Naguib Mahfouz, my favorite Nobel laureate, used to come here often.
Since the author was known and often hung out in the area, an upscale restaurant in the market was named after him. Khan Al-Khalili is located next to Al-Hussein Square, in front of the Harmonious Mosque, and it has many shops and restaurants.
You can also wander around Al-Moez Street, which is linked to Khan Al-Khalili, and it has one of the most beautiful mosques and historical Islamic buildings that will amaze you with its beauty and size.
Khan El Khalili Market is one of the most important and famous places for tourists in the Middle East, especially in Cairo, the capital of Egypt. You may enjoy the Egyptian folk atmosphere more if you go there once.