Cairo is a place of physical contrast. Along the well-irrigated shoreline, lush vegetation shares the landscape with tall skyscrapers. In the older inland quarters to the east, however, beneath the foothills of the Eastern Desert and the rocky promontories of the Muqaṭṭam Hills and the Al-Jabal al-Aḥmar (Arabic: Red Mountain), browns and ochres are the dominant hues of land and buildings.<br />
The city juxtaposes ancient and new, East and West. The Pyramids of Giza, near Memphis, stand at the southwestern edge of the metropolis, and an obelisk in the northeast marks the site of Heliopolis, where Plato once studied; modern landmarks of Western-style high-rise hotels and apartment buildings overlook the Nile River. Between these extremes are other architectural monuments, dating from Roman, Arab, and Turkish times. In addition to department stores, cinemas, hotels, and town houses, Cairo contains a large functioning bazaar and an extensive, semi-walled medieval city endowed with more than 400 registered historic monuments—including mosques, mausoleums, and massive stone gates—dating to 130 CE.