The Establishment of Khan el-Khalili
Khan el-Khalili Bazaar was first established by Emir Dajaharks Al-Khalili on the site of the Za'afran Tomb in the 14th century. Close to Al-Azhar in Cairo's economic district, this beautiful bazaar was built during the restoration project led by Sultan Barquq through the city's recovery from the Black Death in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Following the introduction of this bazaar, Old Cairo became the most important international trading center. Later, Sultan El-Ghuri remodeled the entire neighborhood in the early 16th century and constructed his own Wikala and a funerary complex. In 1511, he demolished the former Khan, which had been erected by El-Khalili, and created a new one. It eventually evolved into a central marketplace where the most precious items could be sold.
Its Grand Entrances
Only one of Khan el-three Khalili's main gateways has survived over the centuries. Known as Bab al-Ghauri, the entrance is located at the western end of the road leading from the Husseini Shrine to the meandering alleyways of Khan el-Khalili.
Discovering the Splendor of Khan el Khalili
Head straight towards Khan El-Khalili for an immersive experience in Cairo's lively, chaotic environment. This vibrant market leads into the narrow and charming alleyways of Islamic Cairo, the ultimate location for genuine Egyptian treasures. A treasure trove of silver, copper, and brassware, jewelry, hookah pipes, leather goods, stained glass lamps, handmade accessories, numerous pharaonic souvenirs, and a dizzying array of delicious food and refreshments.
What to See and Do at Khan El-Khalili
While at Khan El-Khalili, you may engage in a variety of activities, such as attending Mawlid Al-Hussein festivals, where you can view various forms of Sufi celebrations. At Wekalet El-Ghouri, you can also see a traditional Tannoura performance full of color and culture. You should also visit the Zeeyara Restaurant, where you may enjoy a wholesome authentic meal while listening to Um Kulthoum's tunes surrounded by a skyline of minarets.
Khan El-Khalili has a variety of unique and intriguing places to visit, beginning with the spice market where you can buy a variety of fresh spices. There's also a perfume market brimming with aromatic fragrances. There are several antique shops, fabric stores, and carpet vendors scattered across the sprawling market.
Refresh After Your Whirlwind Tour
You will not have to go far for a well-deserved break after a day of shopping and yourself visiting the stores and markets. A multitude of eateries, street food sellers, and small but very traditional coffee houses - known in Arabic as Maqha - line the streets. Locals and tourists alike frequent these shops to indulge in some Arabic coffee, which is traditionally made with spices such as cardamom, or karkade, a sweet hibiscus tea while smoking shisha.
Immerse Yourself in the Culture
This old souk, in stark contrast to the desert serenity of Egypt's ancient sites, is definitely worth a visit if you want to immerse yourself in Cairo's bustling atmosphere. Remember, it's a maze of chaotically clashing noises, sights, and scents, just like the rest of the capital city, so take a deep breath and go for it!
The great news is that Khan El Khalili is all bark and no bite, meaning that while it appears to be packed and chaotic, there is very little actual risk to travelers.
Use common sense and keep your belongings close to you, such as money and valuables. The touristic police (both in uniform and in plain clothing) patrol the alleyways at all hours, so if you get into any problems, just point them in the right direction.