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  • Writer's pictureMai Khder

Khan El Khalili Bazaar

Jan El Jalili, the old bazaar of the city of Cairo, is the most famous market in Egypt and the entire Middle East and a must-see place to visit.


Its origin dates back to the 14th century in the year 1382 when the Mamluk Sultan decided to build a resting place for the commercial caravans and over time it became a large market with more than a thousand stores.


Located in Islamic Cairo, close to al-Azhar and the area is known as Bayn al-Qasrayn, in the center of Cairo's most economical activity zone. The market receives thousands of national and foreign visitors daily, who offer a wide variety of crafts, spices, and perfumes.


Today Khan el-Khalili is occupied by inhabitants rather than merchants but is largely oriented towards cars. Shops often sell souvenirs, antiques, and jewelry, but many traditional workshops continue to operate in the vicinity.


The bazaar is loud, crowded, colorful, and exciting, filled with all kinds of wares and trinkets. That is why getting lost in this ancient and endless bazaar is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cairo. You don't need a blueprint. If you get lost, just keep walking in one direction, and you will quickly get out of the maze.


Shopping is an almost compulsive activity in Jan El Jalili. It is a huge market where you can find everything, you can find traditional souvenirs in this place but don't let them distract you from the other incredible products that you would see there. Plus, you can buy fresh spices of any variety and it's packed with countless mixed scents of essential oils. If you continue walking in the market there are gold sellers and antique shops full of interesting pieces.


Khan el-Khalili is a sight to see and has some special sights. The most popular among visitors is the Fishawi cafe or better known as the cafe of mirrors, the inspiration place of Naguib Mahfuz, the Egyptian Nobel laureate, it has been open continuously day and night for more than 200 years. Its cozy interior, although a bit claustrophobic, is decorated with mirrors everywhere.


On the other hand, there is J Yemaya Street in Fatimid Cairo, it is very close to the Jan El Jalili market, across the street and a few meters, before reaching one of the ancient gates of the city, Bab Zuweila. These tents, fabrics, cushion covers, bedspreads, tapestries, etc. have been sewn there by hand since the Middle Ages.



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