Midan Tahrir


Midan Tahrir (Liberation Sq) gained world renown in early 2011, when millions of Egyptians converged here to oust then-president Hosni Mubarak. On a regular day, it’s just your average giant roundabout (traffic circle), albeit one where half-a-dozen major arteries converge. The main reason you'll pass through is to visit the powder-pink puffball bulk of the Egyptian Museum.

One of the most distinctive orientation aids is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The modernist slab, with its mod-hieroglyphic facade, was built in 1959. Due north is the Egyptian Museum. Behind it used to be the blackened shell of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters, torched during the revolution and demolished in 2015.

South of the hotel, the Arab League Building is the occasional gathering place of leaders from around the Middle East, and now sometimes the site of smaller demonstrations. South across Sharia Tahrir you’ll see the ornate white palace of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the adjacent Omar Makram Mosque, where anybody who’s anybody has their funeral. The rest of the south side is occupied by the monstrous Mogamma, home to 18,000 civil servants and notorious nationwide as the epicentre of the country's infernal bureaucracy. Comedian Adel Imam lampooned the place in his classic 1992 film Irhab Wal Kabab (Terrorism and Kebab), in which his frustrated character takes everyone in the building hostage.

The next building around, across the four-lane Qasr Al Ainy, is the old campus of the elite American University in Cairo (AUC), the college of choice for the sons and daughters of Egypt’s stratospherically wealthy. Most have decamped to a new campus opened in an eastern suburb, but that hasn’t stopped average Egyptians from imagining the Western-inspired privileges enjoyed behind the tall fences.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cairo attractions

1. Omar Makram Mosque

0.14 MILES

Omar Makram Mosque is the place where anybody who's anybody has a funeral.

2. Arab League Building

0.18 MILES

This building (a good landmark in the vast Midan Tahrir area) hosts occasional gatherings of leaders from around the Middle East.

3. Mashrabia Gallery

0.21 MILES

One of the first indepen­dent galleries, Mashrabia is bit cramped but represents the bigger names in painting, video and sculpture.

4. Groppi’s

0.26 MILES

Groppi’s high point was more than 50 years ago when it was one of the most celebrated patisseries this side of the Mediterranean. It has unfortunately…

5. Egyptian Museum

0.27 MILES

One of the world’s most important collections of ancient artefacts, the Egyptian Museum takes pride of place in Downtown Cairo, on the north side of Midan…

6. Midan Talaat Harb

0.27 MILES

Downtown’s two main streets, Sharia Talaat Harb and Sharia Qasr El Nil, intersect at the roundabout of Midan Talaat Harb, where cars whizz around a statue…

7. Cairo Atelier

0.28 MILES

Off Sharia Mahmoud Bassiouni, as much a clubhouse as an exhibition space, frequented by Cairo’s art-world new and old guard.

8. Townhouse Gallery

0.34 MILES

Set amid car-repair shops, Townhouse is Cairo’s most cutting-edge space, with a regular program of temporary exhibitions, often with an emphasis on video…