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Khan El Khalili Cairo Islamic area

However short the stay may be, the tourist to Cairo should always find time to spare for visiting the unique shops of Khan El Khalili Bazaars.

Khan El Khalili was first designed for jewelers and dealers in ornate clothing as well as for the slave market. Nowadays it is a miniature self-contained quarter consisting of many cross alleys with long rows of stalls of tradesmen and artisans. The alleys are lined with many shops where different wares are exposed to view. The visitor to Khan El Khalili strolls through a happy riot of color to which the odor of musk and sandalwood is added for good measure.

Here the past surrounds the visitor with its magic. Perfumes alert the senses, the sight of antique masterpieces of all stages of history enlivens the imaginations while the modern crafts fascinate with their ingenuity and refinement. Yet the craftsmen themselves deny time for they are older than the ancient gateways still standing across the streets. In the same old rooms within the courtyard behind the shops the craftsmen's sensitive fingers do their work with the same implements that their ancestors used, and the jargon of each craft includes terms that are equally age-old.

Craftsmen and workers of different ages are seen sitting creating the exquisite beaten copper and brass work and inlaying them with silver, inlaid wood with mother of pearl, Jewellery, and leather goods for which Egypt is known all over the world.

Here we find too-rich silks and brocades from Syria, scented wood and incense from India, porcelain from China, and carpets from Persia.

Whenever the visitor steps a surprise waits for him, and at each turning, there is a new discovery to be made. The best ware that human craftsmanship can achieve with skill is the craftsman's aim of perfection: something that no machine has been able to supplant in the making of objects of individual beauty.

Along the sides of alleys the wares are piled in such a fantastic way; all just as they were in the days of the Arabian nights. All the quarter still lives under the lanterns. And its old buildings still close their rusty gateways immediately after sunset exactly as they did hundreds of years ago.

In the different alleys, we find venders of trinkets, cloths embroidered with Pharaonic figures and hieroglyphics, characters copied from ancient tombs and temples, leather bags, trays and boxes of fine wood ornamented with shell and ivory, local glassware, and innumerable other artistic articles in the way of curio or ornament.

The present value of the contents of Khan El Khalili bazaars is estimated at over a hundred million Egyptian pounds.

One morning is enough to hunt around and find every object your heart is longing to buy, but a second visit in the afternoon often reveals things overlooked during the first visit.