Let’s head to the Middle East for today’s ‘City Rumble’, I am surprised I haven’t included Cairo in a City Rumble before, and I don’t think I’ve really posted about Amman before at all. So anyways, here we are with the capitals of Egypt and Amman facing off against each other.
They are, on the face of it, very different cities. Egypt had a history connected to the Roman Empire, although the capital was Alexandria and that’s where you can see it today. Amman on the other hand does have a fair Roman influence. In fact, the city is built on Roman ruins. Much of which hasn’t been excavated but you can find the Temple of Hercules, and there is a wonderful Roman Amphitheatre which you can visit or even attend concerts in.
Of course, right off the bat, if you’re looking for ruins it’s pretty impossible to go past the Pyramids of Giza, and the Sphinx which hangs out there too despite missing half its face. As world monuments, they are pretty hard to top indeed. And for sheer scale alone, well, they are better than anything Amman has (a little ways southward in Jordan though, there is Petra!)
Scalewise, Cairo obviously dwarfs Amman. I mean we are talking like 19 million to 4 million, if the internet is to be trusted. And that’s a hellova big difference. And you feel it when you are out and about in the cities. Cairo simply feels like there are people everywhere. It’s overwhelming. The traffic is absolutely stifling. And that equates to a lot of air pollution too. Combine that with hot days (which affects Amman too for much of the year), and as an environment Cairo can simply be too much for some visitors.
And then there’s safety to take into consideration. From what I’ve heard from female travellers, there are issues for females in both cities. But in terms of demonstrations, unrest and possible attacks, Egypt doesn’t have the best record. Things are not perfect in Jordan, but they seem to be reasonably stable.
Cairo a few years ago wasn’t really on people’s radar as a place to go, but things have cooled off now and travellers are returning. And why not? Apart from the pyramids, there is the Egyptian Museum which has an incredible selection of statues and mummies and the like. Then there is the Mosque of Mohammed Ali – one of the largest and most impressive in the world.
Eats are many and all over both cities – Amman has some great places to relax, have a meal, even smoke a bit of the hookah. Amman is a hilly city, and it’s great to explore the back passages and alleyways.
Cairo on the other hand is centred on the incredible Nile River, thousands of kilometres from its origin. It’s magnificent, and around it there is hustle and bustle, and then suddenly, a quieter leafy suburb. But as for relaxing, well, Amman has Cairo covered. As for must-see sights though, Cairo has Amman covered.
It’s hard to choose in a way, but I think the scale and importance to world history puts Cairo just ahead of Amman in this City Rumble. If you were looking for a city to arrive in in the Middle East though, then I think Amman is so much more manageable. So often one’s first taste of a country or a region is a bit fat city. And that’s tough to deal with at times. But if you want to be blown away, challenged, surprised, shocked, amazed… I think Cairo probably will do all that for you, and more! Thanks for reading, May the Journey Never End!