Islamic Cairo is one of the architectural wonders of the world, accommodating more than 800 listed mediaeval monuments within its three square miles. Despite pressure by international cultural groups such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Aga Khan Foundation, today most of these mosques and palaces, with their minarets and mashrabayyas (wooden lattice-work), lie neglected and gently crumbling. Many are squatted by the local inhabitants, giving the area a vibrancy missing in other, better preserved, historic sites. Ex-pats who want to immerse themselves in an Arabic-speaking world and are willing to have their comings and goings closely scrutinised by the locals can rent apartments nestled in among the monuments for a few hundred LE a month. Although Islamic Cairo is only a ten-minute drive east of the city centre, it is another world in terms of amenities. Water and electricity shortages are common, there’s no metro and driving in the area is next to impossible. What you get instead is the closest thing on earth to living in a mediaeval city. Average rent for a two-bedroom furnished apartment: 700 LE.
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Islamic Cairo, Cairo