Much of Cairo is modern, with wide streets. Its famed mosques, palaces, and city gates are found mostly in the older sections. The mosques of Amur (7th cent.), Ibn Tulun (876–79), Hasan (c.1356), and Qait Bay (1475) are especially noted for their bold design. Khedive Ismail's palace on Zamalik island is a notable 19th-century structure. The Mosque of Al Azhar (970) and adjoining buildings house Al Azhar Univ., considered the world's leading center of Qur'anic studies. Cairo also is the center of Coptic Christianity.
The city is the seat of the American Univ. in Cairo, Cairo Polytechnic Institute, the Higher Institute of Finance and Commerce, the College of Fine Arts, and the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts. The Univ. of Cairo is nearby, in Giza. Among Cairo's many museums, the Egyptian National Museum is especially noted for its holdings of ancient Egyptian art. The museum is on Tahrir (Liberation) Square, which was the site in 2011 of massive demonstrations against President Mubarak. The Nilometer, a graduated column dating from 716 and used to measure the river's water level, is on Roda island, where tradition says the infant Moses was found in the bulrushes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.