Midan Ataba

Square in Cairo

This traffic-clogged area of park, markets and transit hub is the transition point from European-built Cairo, particularly its theatre and entertainment district, to the medieval Cairo of Saladin (Salah Ad Din), the Mamluks and the Ottomans. You’ll likely find yourself at the Midan because it’s a convenient walk from here to Islamic Cairo.

On the southwest side of Midan Ataba, past the flyovers, the domed main post office has a pretty courtyard. The 'Commemorative Stamp Office' just inside the post office entrance is where you buy tickets to the neighbouring Postal Museum. The quirky collection of miniature models of post offices, old postal uniforms, aerogram envelopes and stamps is worth a brief look for anyone who enjoys an eccentric museum.

Just off Midan Ataba is Ezbekiyya. By night the crowded stalls of the Ezbekiyya Book Market are busy with browsers. By day Ezbekiyya Gardens are a dusty urban respite. The famous Shepheard’s Hotel, the preferred accommodation of the British colonists, was once located opposite – it was destroyed by Black Saturday rioters in 1952. Next to the gardens, Midan Opera marks the site of the old opera house, which burnt down in 1971, and was rebuilt as a towering car park.