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Souvenir Shopping (Self Guided), Cairo

It would be a pity to leave Cairo without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Cairo, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Egypt » Cairo (See other walking tours in Cairo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Talaat Store
  • Roma Bazar
  • El kahhal carpets
  • Khan El Khalili
  • El karnak bazar
Talaat Store

1) Talaat Store

What to buy here: Hand blown glass works and ornaments.

As many different traditions and crafts were preserved by Egyptians since the ancient times, the glass-blowing craft makes no exception. An art with a very individual, authentic and exotic spirit - the process of making glass ornaments and perfume bottles would be nothing without the magic brought by the vivid colors and reflections.

Glass making was known in Egypt back in 2000 B.C., as the country has always been rich in the purest silica raw materials. Hand-blown glass craft flourished with the Arabian conquest, glass being used in mirrors, dishes, bottles, lamps, and windows, all in brilliant colors obtained by using metal oxides. Nowadays, its artistic touch can be enjoyed in many products like small decor ornaments, or fancy colored vases and bowls. Must-have products are small, beautifully designed perfume and Kohl bottles, which come in thousand variations and sizes, thin and light-weighted, as well as large and heavy pieces. Be careful and request if not provided, an appropriate packaging as these delicate glass pieces, with their fine details and ornamentation are quite fragile. Also look for bottles with a steady, properly shaped base so the glass product doesn't lean when filled, a common issue with thin glass bottles.

Glass works and ornaments are easily found everywhere in Cairo, specially at El Khan “The Old Market” where naturally, all the interesting souvenirs are concealed.

Prices for a small 10 ml bottle range from 10 to 20 L.E., while a fine detailed 50 ml would go up to 80 L.E. Can be found at: Talaat Store. Tel: (+20)124127347. Open: Mon-Sat- 10:00 a.m. till 12:00 a.m., closed-Sun.
Roma Bazar

2) Roma Bazar

What to buy here: Fez “Tarboosh”.

The fez used to be a formal hat for citizens and Pashas, made of soft and durable Kilim fabric. This fashionable headgear was worn in Egypt from 1805 till 1952, but now is rarely to be found. Only some Muslim Sheikhs and Bedouin travelers still use this vivid red cylinder-shaped hat, which was designed by the Andalusian Arabs back in the 17th century in the city of Fes in Morocco. From there is spread to the Middle East and specially the Ottoman empire and became a symbol of modernity. The Egyptian Fez almost disappeared with the end of the Mohamed Ali’s family monarchy after the revolution in 1952. The Egyptian version is a little bit taller than the ones used in north African countries like Tunisia and Morocco, with a more recognizable cylinder shape.

The Fez factory in Cairo is located in El Goureya Street, almost the only place in Egypt which still makes them. The hat is made by shaping palm wicker around a copper template then covered with durable Kilim fabric and placed under a special piston. Afterward, the Fez is carefully ironed and a tassel is attached. Tassels used to be of three colors: black or dark blue for teachers, professors, and business men, while the light sky-blue ones were for Muslim funerals Quran reciters. Tip: wrap a white turban around your Fez for an authentic Bedouin look!

Prices range from 20 to 80 pounds for an original fez. Cheaper models are not recommended as they usually have carton paper instead of a wicker, are made from a different fabric and won’t last for too long.
El kahhal carpets

3) El kahhal carpets

What to buy here: Klim Carpets.

Klim art is one of the earliest wool spinning crafts in Egypt, obtained by shaping rugs and table covers using wool, cotton, and silk to create fabulous décor pieces.

The Klim carpets are made entirely of natural, environment-friendly materials and organic chemical-free colors, hand-made using a wooden loom. The carpets are created by mixing different threads, weaved together to create a sturdy, fine embroidery. This handicraft is still popular in Egypt, despite the flourishing of industrial carpet-making technology. Klim pieces are valued for the fine details of their drawings, the carefully-selected fabrics (Silk, Cotton, Wool) and for the number and size of stitches, not by the surface area.

Klim can be utilized in many ways. Large ones could be used as carpets, or door mats, couch covers, while the smaller ones can be hanged on walls as exquisite art pieces. Kilim carpets have a soft woolen texture, decorated in vivid colors mostly obtained from onion peels for browns, hibiscus flower for reds, and parsley for greens. Designs also vary from Nubian compositions of camels and houses, to Islamic patterns and geometric designs, or even modern art to match all tastes.

Asuit and Fe-wa are two cities competing for excellence in Klim making and design quality,so it is always better to look for a Klim made in either one.

A small wool ~50cm piece: 25~80 pounds; Larger pieces varies between 1m ~ 3.5m: 150~1200 pounds; depends on actual size, materials used, design and stitch size.

A wonderful place with a large variety of materials and designs is El kahhal carpets. Tel: (+20)25909128. Open: Saturday-Thursday from 10:00 am - 7 pm.
Khan El Khalili

4) Khan El Khalili

Khan El Khalili is situated at one corner of a triangle of markets that stretch south to Bab Zuwayla and west to Azbakiyyah. The market is bordered on the south by Al-Azhar Street and on the west by the Muski Market. Khan el-Khalili, once known as the Turkish Bazaar during the Ottoman period, is famous for its unusual Oriental souvenirs and handmade crafts. The medieval atmosphere of this traditional market, together with the labyrinth layout of the streets, gives the visitors a glimpse into what medieval markets were like. In its vast range of antiques and vintage merchandise, you can find anything here from old china tea sets and chess boards made of sandalwood, gold, silver, brass and copper items, souvenir items, alabaster statuettes, papyrus, lamps, carpets and many more. The market dates back to 1382. Its name was inspired from Prince Jaharkas Al-Khalili, who was one of the powerful Mamluk princes in the 14th century.
El karnak bazar

5) El karnak bazar

What to buy here: Cotton Robes and Vail “Jilbab & Burqa”.

Burqa with Yashmak is an authentic Egyptian heritage known for ages. During the last decades it started to vanish as a result of the Egyptian's exposure to the rest of the world, rising employment of women, and its difficulty in wearing. Before, Egyptian women had to wear this cotton veil with colored rollers to cover the hair, with a short Burqa covering the lower part of the face with open slots for easy breathing and showing the beauty behind. Added to this was a golden jewelry piece right above the nose and mouth as a symbol of wealth, called Yashmak.

It is not worn in the city anymore, although in some remote areas of Egypt it is still relatively used, especially by desert Beduins. Burqa's availability for purchase is rare in the city, but it can easily be found in some stores in Cairo’s oldest markets, like “El-Khan” in different variations, decorations, and colors. Prices range from 15 L.E. to 80 L.E.

When it comes to men, there were many different types of clothing to be worn depending on location: from fishermen pants in the North to white Nubian Jilbab.

Most dominant clothing was and still is the regular Jilbab and Abaya (Galabeya) as it is pronounced in Egypt. This long loose cotton garment, with no collar and long wide sleeves, is the icon of comfort and coziness amongst most of the Egyptian farmers and Beduin men. Women's version would be more tight, mostly with a collar, and decorated with bright colors and coins. A regular Jilbab costs about a hundred pound and is easily found in many places around Cairo.

Can be found at: El karnak bazar; Open all week from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m.

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Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

17 Uniquely Egyptian Things to Buy in Cairo

17 Uniquely Egyptian Things to Buy in Cairo

A jewel, a rose... what else is there distinctly Cairo to bring home as a gift? Feeling lost for ideas? - Look in here to generate some and expand your souvenir-shopping...