So, you’ve seen the pyramids, visited ornate mosques, feasted on falafel, and cruised down the Nile – now it’s time to do a little shopping before you head home on your cheap international flights! Cairo has no shortage of unique, meaningful souvenirs to choose from. The souk (market) Khan el Khalili is a great place to start your shopping for Egypt souvenirs. There are many types of shops in this area, as well as coffee houses and street food vendors in case you need sustenance as you browse.
Here are five unique Egyptian finds to add to your shopping list:
Egyptian pharaohs wore cartouches – a vertical oval shape with a vertical line at one end that contained their name in hieroglyphics – to ward off evil spirits in both life and death. Historically they were only worn by royalty, but nowadays you can have your own. Jewels throughout Cairo will customize a 14k gold or sterling silver cartouche pendant with your name on it. In Egypt, cartouches are worn by both men and women, often on chains or leather cords. You can also find cartouches in the form of stone slabs or paintings that you can use to decorate your home.
Jewelry lovers may also want to check out scarab jewelry, which comes in the form of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and beads that you can use to make your own adornments. Not into jewels? You can also find keychains, pins, figurines, etc. Scarabs symbolize the Egyptian god Khepri, who was charged with renewing the sun and transporting it through the other world at night.
Papyrus is widely believed to be the world’s first form of paper (made from the papyrus plant), developed by Egyptians in 3000 BC. Today, artists create vibrantly colored paintings on this thick, textured surface. Choose from iconic battle scenes, pyramids, Isis the Winged Goddess, the Eye of Horus, or more contemporary images. These paintings make great conversation pieces to add to your wall at home.
Alabaster, a translucent white rock, hails from the town of Alabastron. Historically, it was used for statues and other decorative purposes, since the stone is soft and easy to carve. Today it is used to create beautiful items for the home, including trays, perfume jars, vases, candleholders, small statues, and bowls. Alabaster was used to make products for the pharaohs and their families in ancient Egypt, so treat yourself to a royal souvenir!
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If you are a textile lover, you might want to bring an extra suitcase with you on your cheap international flights to Cairo. From woven Egyptian cotton towels to silk scarves, there are plenty of beautiful colors, patterns, and textures to choose for yourself and your friends and family back home. Hand-loomed cotton scarves can be a great gift idea since they are affordable and easy to pack (just roll them up and squeeze them in your suitcase). Heavy wool blankets colored with natural dyes will keep you warm in the winter months. A handmade linen tablecloth would provide the perfect background for all of the Egyptian food you’re going to cook once you get home.
Have you been to Cairo? Where were your favorite places to shop for Egypt souvenirs? What did you buy? Let us know in the comments section.