Umm Kulthum Museum & Monastirli Palace


Set in a peaceful Nileside garden, Monastirli Palace was built in 1851 for an Ottoman pasha whose family hailed from Monastir, in northern Greece. The salamlik (greeting area) that he built for public functions is an elegant venue for concerts, while the other part is the Umm Kulthum Museum, a shrinelike space dedicated to the most famous Arab diva.

The singer’s signature rhinestone-trimmed glasses and glittery gowns are hung under spotlights, and you can listen to her music and watch a fascinating biographical film (with English subtitles), which traces her career from the beginning when she performed disguised as a Bedouin boy, to her magnetic performances that brought Cairo to a standstill. The documentary's footage of her funeral, when millions of mourners flooded Cairo's streets, is worth a visit alone.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cairo attractions

1. Nilometer

0.04 MILES

At the very southern tip of Roda, inside the Monastirli Palace compound, the Nilometer was constructed in AD 861. Like others built millennia before, it…

3. Roman Towers

0.31 MILES

In AD 98 the Roman emperor Trajan enlarged an existing fortress here, called Babylon, likely a corruption of Per-hapi-en-on (Estate of the Nile God at On)…

4. Hanging Church

0.34 MILES

Just south of the Coptic Museum on Sharia Mar Girgis (the main road parallel with the metro), a stone facade inscribed with Coptic and Arabic marks the…

5. Church of St Sergius & Bacchus

0.34 MILES

This is the oldest church inside Coptic Cairo's walls, built in the 11th century with 4th-century pillars. It honours the Roman soldiers Sergius and…

6. Coptic Museum

0.35 MILES

This museum, founded in 1908, houses Coptic art from the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt right through to early Islam. It is a beautiful place, as…

7. Ben Ezra Synagogue

0.37 MILES

Just outside the walls of the Coptic enclave, the 9th-century Ben Ezra Synagogue occupies the shell of a 4th-century Christian church. Tradition marks…

8. Church of St Barbara

0.38 MILES

At the corner past Abu Sarga, the Church of St Barbara is dedicated to a martyr who was beaten to death by her father for trying to convert him to…