The Pyramids of Egypt, which served as tombs for the Ancient Pharaohs, and the statue of the Sphinx, which dates from 2565 BC and is probably the country's most famous monument, are located just west of Cairo in the suburb of Giza. Despite the desert background usually depicted in photographs, the Pyramids are actually extremely close to Cairo and are likely to be affected by the city's continued expansion.
Cairo contains numerous religious and governmental structures. The ornate architecture of the Citadel in eastern Cairo enhances the city's skyline. Begun by Saladin in 1176 and modified and expanded by later sultans, the Citadel is famous for its Mosques, Museums, and fort. The Mohammad Ali Mosque (1830) is particularly notable within the complex, with its storied domes and twin minarets.
The Coptic Church, Al Mu'allaqa, located in Old Cairo, is believed to be the earliest known site of Christian worship in Egypt. The church was built in the 3rd century, though it has been almost entirely replaced through successive restorations. Old Cairo also contains:
- The Ben Ezra synagogue.
- The central house of worship for Cairo's small Jewish population.
- The distinctive and imposing gates of Cairo.
These three gates- the only remaining of the original eight- were once part of a wall that encircled the city. Among Cairo's modern buildings is the Cairo Tower, which stands at 187 m (about 614 ft) and commands a view of the Pyramids and the Citadel.