Occupied by the Ottoman Empire, the French and the British, Cairo has retained its Arabic culture and is sometimes called ‘The City of a Thousand Minarets’ because of its overwhelming Muslim architecture. In 2011, Tahrir Square in Cairo was the central point of the Egyptian Revolution.
In 1840, when Catherine would have arrived in Cairo, Egypt was ruled by Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Ottoman commander, who is credited with creating modern Egypt. The French had occupied Cairo at the end of the 19th century, under Napoleon, but had withdrawn in 1801. Pasha’s social, economic and cultural reforms had a modernizing effect on both city and country, and further developments such as electric lighting, gas, a theatre and an opera house, were made throughout the late nineteenth century before the British invasion of 1882.