City Guide, Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital of Sudan and a port at the confluence of the Blue Nile
and White Nile rivers.
The name Khartoum means 'Elephant's trunk'. The most interesting part for the
visitor is the colonial downtown. Khartoum is one of the most exciting cities in
the World so there is plenty to look at.
It is Sudan's second largest city and its administrative and commercial center.
Food, beverages, cotton, gum, and oilseeds are processed in the city. Manufactures
include cotton textiles, knitwear, glass, and tiles. Construction of an oil pipeline
between Khartoum and Port Sudan was completed in 1977. Khartoum is a railroad hub
and is connected by road to the heart of the adjacent cotton-growing region.
Khartoum is one of the popular tourist destinations in the world attracting tens
of thousands of tourists across the globe every year. The National Museum of Sudan
is the country's largest museum. The museum stands on El Neel Avenue in the lovely
city of Khartoum. It was built in the year 1971. It houses artifacts and various
works of art covering the history and culture of Sudan. Do not miss out on the spectacular
exhibits of the Egyptian temples of Buhen and Semma. The Buhen Temple was built
by Queen Hatshepsut while the Semma Temple was built by Pharaoh Tuthmosis III.
The Ethnographical Museum has a rich collection of artifacts which include things
used by villagers of Sudan in ancient times. The collections include musical instruments,
hunting tools and cooking wares.
Other places to be visited by tourists are The Botanical Gardens, the palace
Museum, St. Mattews Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic church Sayeda El Bushara
Culture and entertainment
Sudanese culture melds the behaviors, practices, and beliefs of about 578 tribes,
communicating in 145 different languages, in a region microcosmic of Africa, with
geographic extremes varying from sandy desert to tropical forest.
Art in Sudan is mainly of the tribal kind. Making of masks, carving abstract
patterns in wood, also making tribal headdresses out of wood, textile weaving, appliquéing
patterns of historical events on cloth and drum making are some of the well known
forms of the art in Sudan.
Traditional Sudanese music is percussion based. So, drums are an integral part
of the music of Sudan. Over the years, European elements too have made contributions
to the music in Sudan. As a result, today, instruments like Scottish bagpipes and
guitars are used in the music of Sudan.
Food and drink
Sudanese people are very hospitable. Meals are eaten around a large, communal
tray on which various meat, vegetable, salads, and sauce dishes are placed. These
are eaten with the right hand, using flat bread or a stiff millet porridge known
as asida or kisra.
The strong Sudanese coffee is served from a special tin ‘jug’ with
a long spout, known as a jebena. The coffee is sweet and often spiced with ginger
or cinnamon, and is drunk from tiny cups or glasses. Fruit teas and herbal teas
such as karkaday (hibiscus tea) are also popular. Peanuts, known as Ful-Sudani,
are a popular snack, and can be made into delicious macaroons.
The hotel restaurants in Khartoum international cuisine and there are a few Greek
and Middle Eastern restaurants. If invited to a Sudanese home, more exotic food
will usually be served.
Khartoum may not have as many souks as the neighboring city of Omdurman, but
the enormous Souq (Souk) Arabi, where the locals go to chat, haggle and simply pass
the time, more than makes up for it. Spread over several squares in the very heart
of the city, the market’s many sections include one that is dedicated entirely
to the sale of gold.
Al Qasr Street and Al Jamhoriyah Street are the equivalent to London’s
Oxford Street or New York’s Fifth Avenue, while the Afra Mall, opened in 2004,
boasts department stores, a hypermarket, movie theatres, food court, internet cafe,
pool tables, bowling hall and a children's playground.
Top souvenir buys would include ebony wood carvings, necklaces, bracelets, beads,
gold and silver jewellery, clay coffee pots, Sudanese baskets and speciality food
and spices, but be prepared to haggle hard.