What is the Khan El Khalili?
Khan El Khalili is a famous market or souk in the historic center of Cairo, Egypt. It is a bustling bazaar that has been a hub of trade and commerce since the 14th century.
The Khan El Khalili market is named after the prominent Mamluk emir (prince) and builder, Al-Khalili, who commissioned the market construction in the 14th century.
The market has since been expanded and renovated several times, but it retains its historic charm and atmosphere.
The market is known for its narrow winding streets and alleyways, with small shops and stalls selling various goods, including spices, jewelry, textiles, traditional clothing, ceramics, souvenirs, and antiques.
Visitors can find everything from handmade carpets and intricate brass lamps to aromatic oils and exotic spices.
In addition to shopping, visitors can also enjoy the lively and vibrant atmosphere of the market, with street performers, musicians, and artists entertaining passersby.
There are also several traditional coffeehouses and restaurants where visitors can sample Egyptian cuisine and experience the local culture.
Khan El Khalili Bazaar History
The first mention of this bazaar was found in sources in 1292. At that time, Khan el-Khalili was essentially a caravanserai – a trading place where shopkeepers could dine and relax after a hard day.
Historians associate the modern name of the bazaar with the name of the warehouse built here in 1382. At the beginning of the 16th century, the market was rebuilt, and since then,
there have been narrow winding streets of tanners, furniture makers, chasers, coppersmiths, silversmiths, and sellers of spices.
Today, Khan el-Khalili is a place revered not only by tourists but also by Egyptians. People come here not so much for shopping but to fully immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere of the oriental bazaar
with its exoticism, noisy smells, and variety of goods on offer. Whenever you come to this place, it will beckon you with the brightness of colors and the noise of a medieval Arab city.
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When was Khan El Khalili built?
Khan el Khalili bazaar dates back to the 14th century when Emir Dajaharks Al-Khalili built a significant market complex on the site of the tomb of Za’afran, the burial place of Egypt’s Fatimid rulers.
This construction was part of the rebuilding process initiated by Sultan Barquq (ruled 1382-1399) to help the city recover from the ravages of the Black Death during the 13th and 14th centuries.
Bazaar khan el Khalili has been modernized significantly, but parts still display the original Mamluk-style architecture, which featured grand arches and vaulted ceilings.
The market has several restaurants and cafes where you can take a break from shopping.
Al Fishawy is Cairo’s oldest cafe, decorated with large mirrors and antique furniture. It used to be frequented by Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian writer.
There is also an upscale restaurant in the market that bears his name. The market is next to Hussein Square, the garden opposite the Hussein Mosque, and this square also offers many cheaper cafes and restaurants.
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The Reason for naming Khan al-Khalili
The Khan is a building in the form of a large square, and it surrounds a courtyard resembling the agency. At the same time, the middle layer includes shops, while the upper floors are for stores and residences,
while its name goes back to the person who ordered its establishment in the year 784 AH, i.
Hebron is Palestine, and historical stories narrate that after the killing of Al-Khalili in Damascus, the Mamluk Sultan Qansuh al-Ghuri removed the Khan and established agencies and shops for merchants in its place.
Hence, the place acquired a historical character localized to the antiquities of the Mamluks.
Where is Khan El Khalili located?
Khan El Khalili is located in the historic center of Cairo, Egypt. Specifically, it is situated in the Islamic Cairo district, known for its numerous historic mosques, madrasas (Islamic schools), and other landmarks.
The market is located near the famous Al-Azhar Mosque and the Al-Hussein Mosque, both critical religious sites in Cairo.
What is Special about Khan El Khalili?
If you are lucky enough to catch the market at the same time as the Mawlid Al-Hussein, a Sufi celebration of the birth of Imam Hussein, then you will be assured of having a new and exciting experience.
Sufi practitioners will recite litanies and participate in other time-honored practices throughout this period.
Tannoura shows are another Sufi spiritual practice that may be enjoyed at Wekalet El-Ghouri, just a few feet away from where you are now.
Additionally, carnivals are held intermittently on Muizz Street from time to time.
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Where to Eat in Khan El Khalili?
Exploring Khan El Khalili for a long time will make a traveler hungry and thirsty. Khan el Khalili and the neighboring region, fortunately, both contain a large number of restaurants serving traditional Egyptian cuisine.
Find a seller on the street that sells warm, fluffy couscous topped with butter and sugar for a snack on the go. Fatimah, the Egyptian version of pizza, is an excellent choice for a heartier supper that can be enjoyed in the plastic chairs of an outside café on a warm summer evening. It’s not usually the most upscale restaurants that offer the most incredible authentic regional cuisine.
El Fishawy, the oldest café in Cairo, is one of the most incredible spots to visit in Egypt if you want to taste Turkish coffee. The El Fishawy has been in business for nearly 250 years and is open daily.
The antiquated geometric wood paneling and the original copper lights, which have remained unchanged since the restaurant opened, create an atmosphere reminiscent of another era.
Customers of the café will occasionally bring their instruments and sing traditional Arabic love ballads while they drink coffee and sit together. The experience is never the same when you go to El Fishawy,
which is one of this destination’s many unexpected and endearing aspects.
Because it is one of the most enchanted spots in Egypt, those interested in discovering the country’s history should not skip Khan el Khalili.
When you take a guided tour of Egypt, you will have the chance to explore the best of Cairo through the eyes of a native guide. Unforgettable experiences await
What To Do in Khan el Khalili Bazaar?
You can do a little bit of everything in Khan El Khalili. If the objective is shopping, it is an excellent place to find souvenirs, jewelry, spices, shawls, and products exclusive to the region.
Being patient is good, as product quality and prices vary greatly. And always carry cash with you; most stores don’t accept cards, and you’ll need change anyway to haggle.
Even if you don’t intend to go shopping, Khan EL Khalili is a fantastic place to walk around and feel the energy. In the surroundings, visit the Al-Hussein Mosque,
which dated from 1154 and was built exactly where the Fatimid mausoleum was, and this mosque is considered one of the holiest places in the city.
At Wekalet El-Ghori, you can watch a Tanoura show, a religious dance involving Sufis in beautiful rotating movements.
Khan el-Khalili is a landmark in Cairo, Egypt, that offers visitors a wide variety of attractions besides shopping.
The neighborhood’s several mosques and other places of worship are well worth a visit. The Al-Azhar Mosque and the Al-Hussein Mosque are among the most frequented areas of interest for visitors to this region.
Khan el-Khalili is home to several institutions, including the Egyptian Antique Museum and the Islamic Cairo Art Museum.
In addition, guests can participate in fun activities like painting their hands with henna or taking lessons in belly dancing.
Finally, just sitting in one of the cafes and “watching life happen” is an invitation to participate in Cairo’s identity.
What to Buy in khan el Khalili Bazaar?
Even if you aren’t very interested in shopping, wandering around the ancient Khan El-Khalili bazaar in Cairo (Egypt) is an experience not to be missed.
Like most traditional permanent souqs, Khan El-Khalili was once divided into areas by its wares. This promoted healthy competition between the vendors as shoppers could bargain from one stall to the next.
Today this has lapsed somewhat, and the individual alleyways offer more of an assortment.
There are a lot of items to Buy from Khan El-Khalili. There are both typical cheap souvenirs and unique products from local artisans.
Massive emerald and pearl rings, ruby necklaces, onyx and hematite bracelets, and sapphire and cubic zirconia earrings can all be found at Khan el-Khalili in Cairo.
Local artisans make them, so all decorations have oriental motifs.
Remember that jewelry with precious stones is expensive, and be careful not to confuse them with cheap Chinese fakes, which are a lot here.
In any oriental bazaar, you can meet long rows of sellers who sell fragrant and bright spices from different East countries.
The choice is vast – on Khan el Khalil, you can buy well-known black pepper, cinnamon sticks, clove inflorescences, ginger, and seeds of calamus, amaranth, fashion, fruits of garcinia, and hyssop,
which are unusual for a European.
Prices for spices are very affordable, and you definitely won’t be able to buy a similar product cheaper in a store
Perhaps this is the most atmospheric part of the market, where you can find a lot of exciting gizmos. For example, ancient Aladdin lamps (most date back to the 19th century),
Egyptian weavers, metal figurines, painted dishes, and much more.
Before going to the bazaar, it is advisable to study the features of local antique souvenirs so as not to buy a fake for a lot of money.
All Eastern countries have their unique carpet-weaving traditions. Egyptian is characterized by warm shades and many geometric shapes, especially squares.
Unlike Iranian or Azerbaijani ones, there are not too many elements here, thanks to which Egyptian carpets will fit nicely into any modern interior.
Egyptian Hookah or shisha
Shisha water pipes are sold throughout the bazaar. Shisha cafes have long held a place in Egyptian culture, and sharing a shisha pipe is a common social practice.
At Khan El-Khalili Market, you will find a variety of shishas to buy, some more gimmicky than others.
Coffeehouses selling Egypt’s strong brew, restaurants, and street food vendors can be found everywhere to fuel your shopping journey.
Plenty of fresh fruit, bread, baked sweet potatoes, tea, and coffee exist.
For a special treat, ask for some zanjabil, one of Egypt’s best-kept secrets! The Quran calls it a hot, spicy ginger drink, “the promise of paradise.”
It’s the perfect tonic to cleanse your palate of Cairo’s murky air or unfamiliar food. You’ll find it on offer in all sidewalk coffee and shisha shops.
Silver, Copper, and brassware
Khan el Khalili also houses the largest gold and silver market in Egypt. There are plenty of vendors of silver, Copper, and brassware. You can buy items of all shapes and sizes,
including wall plates, lamps, teapots, and more.
Spare a thought for how you might fit your purchase into your suitcase, though, as some pieces are easier to transport than others!
As Egypt is the country that produces cotton of the best quality in the world, a galabeya would be the ideal souvenir for you to take home to remind you of your time there.
There are hundreds of designs available, each with various color options that could cater to your preferences. They are famous for their easygoing and casual style.
Jewelry Wooden Boxes
Crafts made of wood were particularly well-known among Egyptian artists. There are several shapes, including octagonal, hexagonal, and rectangular.
The ancient artists of Egypt came up with those box designs to win the favor of their pharaohs.
Kilims are typically used as rugs and table covers and exude a bohemian character despite their vivid coloration. Kilims can be found in hundreds of different forms and colors,
making it possible to find one that is just right for you.
Some people place them on the wall because they are such beautiful examples of art. Silk, cotton, and wool were used in their construction.
Places of interest in khan el Khalili Bazaar
Cafe Fishawi. Open all day and with more than 200 years of history; it is an important place to sit down to drink tea or coffee and enjoy its mirror decoration.
Midac Alley. It is where the novel The Alley of Miracles by Naguib Mahfuz, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, is set. To get there, take Al-Muizz street, continue along Sanadiqiyah,
and in the first passage you find on your left, you will be in Midaq. The film based on the book was also filmed there.
The Nahaseen. There, all the artisans who work with Copper come together and make unique pieces of surprising quality.
Attractions near Khan El Khalili
You’ll come across the Hussein Mosque on your way to Khan el-Khalili. It was constructed in 1154 and served as a mosque and a mausoleum.
Muizz Street is another medieval street that is located close to Khan e-Khalili. It is known as the largest open-air museum in Egypt due to a large number of medieval Islamic buildings
and mosques that can be found on this street.
You’ll find Wekalet El Ghouri at the end of Muizz Street. This building dated back to 1504 and was constructed by the Mamluk Sultan Al Ghouri, and it was initially designed to serve as an inn for merchants.
The Wekala is crammed to the gills with artists’ studios and artisan shops. The courtyard is transformed into a theatre where Sufi dance performances are held in the evenings.
Is it worth visiting Khan EL Khalili?
It is said that going to Cairo without going to Khan El Khalili is not being in the city, as it is a mandatory stop not only if you want to shop but an opportunity to experience the local culture.
Khan El Khalili holds great importance, like the Pyramids of Giza or the Egyptian Museum.
What is the Best Time to Visit Khan El-Khalili?
Although Khan el Khalili Bazaar is open throughout the year, winter is the best time.
The weather in Cairo during the summer months is often hot and humid. This may make shopping in the market an unpleasant eDon’tence.
Going out to do errands and shopping in the winter is much more bearable than at other times.
The presence of Christmas decorations is your other advantage. Doesn’t visit during the wintertime. The marketplace is decked out for a holiday with lights and Christmas trees, and the atmosphere is jubilation and festivities.
During winter, you can get the best deals on various souvenirs and other little items. At this time of year, many shops in the market hold sales at significantly discounted rates.
However, if you want to get a feel for the culture, the best time to visit is during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. At the moment, the level of activity on the market is at its highest point.
What Tips are Important Before Visiting Khan El Khalili?
Khan El Khalili is fascinating, but consider some critical points as a tourist. First, learn to bargain if you want to buy a product, as most do not have a pre-established price.
Don’t worry; sellers already expect this; bargaining is part of the culture. Generally, the ideal price will be 1/3 of the initially requested amount. If you’re not satisfied, don’t be shy about leaving. Be polite but firm in your response.
Next, remembering to be careful with your belongings anywhere, especially in crowded places, as in Khan EL Khalili, is always worth remembering. It is generally a safe place, but extra care never hurts as there are many foreigners.
Finally, if you are visiting Khan El Khalili without a guide or a local, be aware if you decide to take one of the many taxis that wait for passengers at the entrance to the market, as many claim a broken meter. Alternatively, you
can use transport apps or walk to a less crowded area. We look forward to your visit to khan el Khalili in Egypt to buy souvenirs for you and your friends; enjoy with us!
What Should I wear at Khan el Khalili bazaar?
Tourists usually visit Khan El Khalili Bazaar, which can get quite congested sometimes, particularly during the high season for vacationers.
When traveling to a new place, one must familiarise oneself with the norms of behavior and attire that are prevalent there.
Visitor guidelines suggest that ladies cover their shoulders and knees in public spaces. This can be accomplished by donning a blouse or dress with long sleeves and wrapping a scarf or shawl around the shoulders.
The appropriate length for skirts and shorts is about mid-calf, and pants should have a relaxed fit.
Men are encouraged to adhere to the specified dress code by donning long pants and shirts with sleeves. It would be best to shield yourself from the sun by donning a hat or a headscarf.
When traveling, one should also consider the footwear one wear. Visitors should avoid wearing shoes with open toes because doing so may be taken as a sign of disrespect.
It is also advisable to avoid wearing heels, as the market is comprised of narrow streets, and heels might make it difficult to negotiate these streets.
Even though the clothing standards of Khan el-Khalili are known to be more permissive than those in other neighborhoods of Cairo, it is still essential to present oneself decently.
Dressing provocatively or behaving obnoxiously is possible to show disdain and cause offense.
You may guarantee your visit is respectful and enjoyable by dressing appropriately and adhering to the approved dress code.
Is it Safe to Visit Khan El Khalili?
Every traveler to EgyptKhalili’sheck out the Khan el-Khalili bazaar. On the other hand, many people considering traveling to Egypt express concern about going there
at the moment due to the political situation in the country.
The answer is you must go there since it is risk-free to do so. No recent violence has been directed toward tourists or Westerners in general,
even though the political situation in Egypt is in flux. The Egyptian government has prioritized enhancing security in well-known tourist areas such as Khan el-Khalili.
Nevertheless, tourists should always exercise caution and stay away from large crowds as well as protests.
It is an excellent location to visit if you are interested in Egyptian history and would like to bring back some souvenirs from the country.
You should be alright if you have your wits about you and avoid doing anything that could be considered dumb.