Midan Tahrir (Arabicميدان التحرير, "Liberation Square", also commonly known as Tahrir Square) is the name given to the large public square at the epicentre of modern Cairo and, as a city district, to the streets and institutions located nearby. The Egyptian Museum, the American University in Cairo, the Arab League and the Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels are all located within this district, as are several important government offices (including those for the renewal of visas). The metro also has its main nexus under Midan Tahrir, and a great many buses and taxis make Tahrir Square a key part of their services.
The relatively open vista of Tahrir Square affords the confused traveler a great opportunity to look about and gain some bearings within the bustling city center.
Perhaps the most prominent building bordering Tahrir Square is the now somewhat jaded-looking Nile Hilton, between the Square and the Nile Corniche. Immediately to the north and perpendicular to the hotel is the unmissable Egyptian Museum in reddish-pink stone. South of the Hilton Hotel stands the dingy Arab League Building and, somewhat further south-east, across the busy thoroughfare of Sharia Tahrir, the brutal Stalinist edifice of the Mogamma Building (housing 18,000 employees of the Egyptian bureaucracy, together with the most convenient offices for visa renewal).
From here, Sharia Tahrir heads due west to cross the Nile over the Tahrir Bridge and into Gezira (the island suburb), and beyond to Giza and the Pyramids (several miles away) Next to the Mogamma Building is a small but attractive Mosque of Omar Makram, in which many state and business funerals are held. Only slightly further south can be found the Intercontinental Hotel.
Bordering Tahrir Square to the east is a sizable frontage of large office buildings and stores, topped with neon signs. The downtown campus of the American University of Cairo lies across the busy Qasr al-Ainy.
Midan Tahrir is served by the Sadat metro stop and micro buses and other forms of public transport from most areas of Cairo.
Probably one of the easiest ways to negotiate the busy Tahrir Square area is to use the interconnecting underground pedestrian tunnels linking the Metro station with various points in and around the Square. This can save a great deal of time and prevent much negotiation of crazy traffic and the ongoing remodelling of the Square itself.
The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum  (officially, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities), on the northern edge of Midan Tahrir, is one of the world's great museums. An extensive building and massive collection of Egyptian antiquities, the museum (also commonly referred to as the "Cairo Museum") is truly a destination in its own right,with at least 136,000 items on display; hundreds of thousands of additional items languish in the museum's basement storerooms and are added to each year with ongoing excavation and discovery.
Plans are now well advanced for the transfer of the main collection to a new Grand Egyptian Museum within the vicinity of the Giza Pyramids. Hopefully the new building will be more user friendly, instead of the current poorly-labeled and documented nature of many prime exhibits.
The museum is an outgrowth of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, established by the Egyptian government in 1835, in an attempt to limit the looting of antiquities sites and artefacts. The museum first officially opened in 1858 with a collection assembled by Auguste Mariette Pasha, the French archaeologist employed by Isma'il Pasha to organise the collection. After residing in an annex of the Bulaq palace of Ismail Pasha in Giza from 1880, the museum moved in 1900 to its present location, a neoclassical structure on Tahrir Square in Cairo's city centre. More than a million and half tourists visit the museum annually, in addition to half a million Egyptians.
There are seven sections within the museum that are arranged in chronological order:
General admission is adults LE 60, students LE 30, not including the mummies room but including Tutankhamun's mask (don't let the touts convince you otherwise!). Recently, rules have been posted that no photography whatsoever allowed within the museum for the protection of the ancient art. There are three separate checkpoints that have x-ray machines. There is one outside the courtyard, then there is one before the steps of the museum and a third right inside the doors.
A bookstore and several small gift stores are open during museum hours within the main entrance hall to the museum. Prices are often somewhat inflated. Be careful also that the proprietors do not pass on a dusty, grimy equivalent of the display copy you think you are purchasing.
Midan Tahrir affords a large number of very convenient dining options for the traveller.
Directly opposite the gates of the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the south-eastern corner of the square are to be found all the central Cairo branches of McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC.
The basement of the Annex to the Hilton Hotel on Tahrir Square has a large number of internationally-flavoured eateries in a mall-type setting, everything from Egyptian to Thai and hamburgers. Prices are reasonable and the setting comfortable.
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Free wi-fi is available at Pottery Cafe. Free wi-fi (Mobinil) is also available at modern coffee shops such as Cilantro and Costa Coffee, where you obtain access by getting a 2-hour "promotional" card from the waiter. McDonalds restaurants also offer free wi-fi.
Be extra careful crossing the roads in and around Tahrir Square. Egyptian motorists drive fast and seldom obey red lights.
That said, Tahrir Square is arguably one of the safest areas in which to stay and visit, being full of heavily-guarded government offices, the American University of Cairo, international hotels and cultural institutions (some may argue, of course, that this makes the area more of a target for terrorism and unrest). Also, Tahrir Square is a frequent gathering spot to stage political protests, which sometimes can become violent and are best avoided.
Be careful at Midan Tahrir, or nearby Midan Ataba, as these seem to be epicentres for the touts and "helpful locals". They will innocently ask you where you where you are from and then point you in the wrong direction in direct you towards a friend's business. Only at the pyramids does this happen more often.