Egypt is a remarkable country replete with various gems. It is known to be that place where the first great civilization was born, making it one of the reasons to love Egypt. The country, home of the pharaohs, has the roaring Nile, the minarets, the pyramids and much more. It has a wonderful blend of ancient historical charm and modern impeccable hospitality. To cut the long story short, here are 15 amazing reasons to love Egypt:
Valley of the Kings
Lying on the western banks of the River Nile, The Valley of the Kings is also known as the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings. From 11th century to the 16th century, this valley has been the burial site of the kings and important nobles of the New Kingdom. It lies across from Thebes within of the Theban Necropolis. The site is a combination of West Valley and East Valley. Most of the royal tombs are positioned in the second one. The graffiti on the walls are mainly in Greek and Latin.
The valley was used primary for burials, between 1539 BC and 1075 BC, with a total of 60 tombs, beginning from Thutmose I up till Ramesses X or XI. One can also see tombs of wives and children of the kings and the nobles. One of the attractions of the Valley of the Kings is the tomb of Tutankhamun, A World Heritage Site. The tombs were built by cutting through layers of limestone-comprising of 3 corridors, a sarcophagus chamber and an antechamber. The valley has not only allured archaeologists but also tomb robbers, and treasure hunters. Exploring this place is a true delight.
Location- In the hills of Dayr- al-Bahri
Lying along the ancient harbor of Alexandria, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has an 11-storyed library with around 4 million volumes of books, and can be stretched to 8 million. There are manuscripts, rare books, statues, lithographs, photographs etc. The mammoth complex also has various museums, conservation facilities, a school on information science, and a planetarium. Renovated in October 2002, it has a circular shape, in a tilting form. The building is 32 m in height and has a diameter of 160 m. It is connected to the University of Alexandria through a footbridge.
The building of Bibliotheca Alexandrina with sophisticated design is surrounded by a reflecting pool and an open plaza. The new building is a revival of the ancient library that was built centuries ago. A famous attraction, it is also quite popular between students and researchers. If you wish to explore, audio guides are available in different languages.
Tickets: Adult /Student – Egyptian Dollar 70/5
Timings: 11:00AM to 7:00PM (Sunday to Thursday) and 12:00PM to 4:00PM (Saturday) (Close on Fridays)
Al-Qasr Old Town
Lying at the brink of a verdant oasis, at the foot of the limestone cliffs, Al-Qasr is a medieval Islamic town, which was founded in the 12th century. Founded on the ruins of Roman settlement, this peaceful town has narrow covered streets. One of the oldest inhabited areas of Dakhla Oasis, the town has old houses belonging to the Ottoman and Mamluk period. A part of this town has been kept intact to showcase the real representation of an oasis of those times.
A visit to Al-Qasr is pure magic. Not more than several hundred people live here in the town, which was once a thriving place. One of the main attractions here is the mosque, belonging to the Ayyubid period. The renovated madrassa, along an old house is also worth visiting.
Highlight– An ancient town in Dakhla Oasis
Amun Temple Enclosure
The largest temple complex in Egypt and also the second largest ancient complex after Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Amun Temple enclosure in Karnak was the center of the worship of Amun. Located in Karnak, present day Luxor, this site is divided into four different temple complexes and one out of them has been brought down to pieces. The present complex sections have temples of Amun, Mut and Montu.
During the old times, chapels for other deities were also built by priests in every complex, wherein each part had its own sacred pool. During its heyday, the temple owned 65 cities, 421,000 head of cattle, 83 ships, and had 276,400 hectares of land along with 81,000 locals working for it. The temple spreads in an area of 247 hectares. The precinct of Amun-Ra lies in the center and is the largest. The second largest precinct is that of Mut and it is in the South. The smallest one is that of Montu and is on the North.
Ticket– Adult/Student- Egyptian Pound 80/40
Location– Karnak (Luxor)
A huge temple complex, second in line to the one in Karnak, Medinet Habu is the Arabic name for the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III. A temple belonging to the New Kingdom period, it lies on the western banks of Luxor and is known for size and architectural importance. Another highlight is that the temple walls have carved reliefs showcasing the arrival and defeat of the Sea People during the rule of Ramesses III. This ancient site was known to be in connection with Amun, who was known to be the creator and fertility God.
Medinet Habu is located just opposite the Nile from the Luxor Temple. It was also one of the main sites of a number of annual festivals. This sandstone structure is also considered to be the best-preserved temple complexes of the New Kingdom. The complex also has a sacred lake.
Timings: 06:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Ticket: Locals/Foreigner- Egyptian Pound 2/25
Location: On the western bank, opposite Luxor
White Desert National Park
Lying just a few hours away from the bustling Cairo city, White Desert National Park has a remarkable surface just like the moon. The unique rock formations that were formed by centuries of sandstorms and erosions, making the surface look quite exquisite. Some of them look like food and have been given names like ‘ice-cream cone’ and ‘mushroom’, the others have been named ‘Inselberg’, ‘tents’, ‘crickets’ and ‘Monolith’.
Night camping in White Desert National Park can also be planned. One of the most popular formation here is ‘Chicken and atomic bomb’. As the sun sets or rises, the beauty of the place increases manifold. The site is also known as Sahra al-Beida. In the past, the White Desert was a sea-bed and when the ocean dried up, there were rock formations, which were made by marine life.
Ticket– US Dollar 5
Highlight- Moon-like surface and unique calcium rock formations
Location– 20 km northeast of Farafra
Also known as Gabal Musa, Mount Moses or Mount Horeb, Mount Sinai is a mountain that lies in the Sinai Peninsula. One of the four important sacred mountains in the Judeo-Christian region of the Middle East, it is that site where Prophet Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. At the summit, few chapels have been built from where one can enjoy wonderful sunrise views. At the base of the mountain is St. Catherine’s Monastery.
Moses, who was the traditional founder of Judaism, was born here in Egypt. He was the son of a Hebrew slave. Mt. Sinai is visited by a huge number of pilgrims of Christianity, Islam and Judaism every year. The mountain rises to 7,497 feet above the sea level. All tourist facilities are available at al-Minya, a small town just at the entrance to the valley.
Highlight– An important sacred site
Lying on the eastern banks of River Nile, Luxor Museum is sandwiched amid Luxor temples in the South and Karnak Temple in the North. The grand façade of the museum faces the Nile and the building is 55 m in length and 29 m in width. Visitors can see a wonderful collection of important objects, few items from the tomb of Tutankhamun, and statues from the Cachette found hidden in Luxor temple. Another highlight is reconstructed Talatat wall of Aten temple.
The Luxor Museum has a brilliant display of antiques from the ending of Old Kingdom, tracing the Mamluk period, collected from the Theban temples and necropolis. Other attraction here is the statue of The Napoleon of Ancient Egypt, Thutmose III. Popular items from Tutankhamu’s treasure are the black and gold Hathor cow head, two of the kings’ funerary boat models, furniture and Shabti figures.
Ticket: Adult/Student Egyptian Dollar 100/50
Timings: 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Location: Corniche an-Nil, Luxor
8 Nights / 9 daysEgypt Sojourn
7 Nights / 8 daysEgyptian Explorer
6 Nights / 7 days
One of the largest museums in the world, Agriculture museum in Cairo was founded in 1930 in British colonial style structure. The complex has a number of buildings but presently only two of them are open as others are in a bit dilapidated condition. It helps the visitors in understanding the evolution of life in the countryside of Egypt.
Some of the displays include model representation of traditional weddings, models showing the wheat-threshing process, wax cucurbits in glass cases. There are 10 halls where objects are in display. Agricultural Museum is located in the Giza governorate – northern Egypt. Other exclusive displays here are the extinct Barads plant, a sacred plant in the Pharaonic era.
Ticket: Admission/Camera Egyptian Dollar 15/10
Timings: 09:00 AM – 01.30 PM (Wednesday – Monday)
Location: Off Sharia Wizarat al-Ziraa, Doqqi
Lying in the heart of the newly formed Fatimid city, Al-Azhar mosque was founded in 970 AD. The mosque holds the highest theological authority for Egyptian Muslims. The current structure of the mosque is the result of additions that was done on a thousand years. It is a wonderful amalgam of different styles of architecture. Head to the tomb chamber towards the left, right inside the doorway to have a look at the gorgeous mihrab. It is the place that points towards the direction of Mecca.
Al-Azhar Mosque currently belongs to Sunni sect of Islam and is taken as the symbol of modern, Islamic Egypt. The mosque with Fatimid structure has hypostyle halls, keel-shaped arches, and an expansive courtyard with polished shiny marble floor. Do not forget to carry a shawl or a scarf to cover your head. It is also connected to Al-Azhar University, which is one of the oldest universities in the world.
Timings: 24 hour
Location: Sharia al-Azhar, Cairo
The most famous landmark of Cairo after the Pyramids, Cairo tower stands high with a height of 187 m. It was erected in the year 1961 and the structure looks like a stylish lotus plant that has beautiful latticework. The 360 degree views from the top of the tower are breathtaking. The best time to climb up is late morning or late afternoon. Get ready to stand in a queue for the elevator at the dusk hour as this is a popular attraction.
Located one floor below the observation deck at the Cairo Tower, the Sky Garden café is a place where you can enjoy drinks and snacks. Other classy option of the Revolving Restaurant, located on the ground below. The completion of the tower took a span of 5 years, and was done between 1956 and 1961.
Ticket: Adult/Child under 6 years/Video: Egyptian Dollar 70/free/20
Timings: 08:00 AM – Midnight (winter), to 01:00 AM (summer)
Location: Sharia Hadayek al-Zuhreya, Cairo
Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan
One of the largest Islamic religious buildings in the world, Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan is the best masterpiece of early-Mamluk architecture in the Cairo city. This elegant structure was founded by Sultan Hassan, the grandson of Sultan Qalaun, between 1356 and 1363. As you walk past the remarkable entrance, you enter a dark passage, which leads to a serene courtyard enclosed by high walls.
The square-shaped courtyard is enveloped by 4 iwans or vaulted halls, which are dedicated to teachings of the 4 main schools of Sunni sect of Islam. Spread in an area of 7906 sq m, the height of the mosque walls is 36 m and the tallest minaret is 68 m high. The mausoleum of Sultan Hassan also lies in the complex.
Tickets: Admission Egyptian Dollar 40 (combined ticket with Mosque of ar-Rifa’i)
Timings: 08:00 AM – 04.30 PM
Location: Midan Salah ad-Din, Cairo
Known as the Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman period, Khan el-Khalili is a bustling market that was founded in 1382 by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili in the heart of Fatimid city. Based on the concept of a caravansary, it is one of the best shopping areas of Cairo, along with the al-Muski market towards the west. The busy market is a delightful visit.
As you enter Khan el-Khalili, shop owners are going to call you to their stalls. The scent of spices fills your nostrils. You can get your hands on spices, statuettes, silver jewelry, souvenirs, belly dancing costumes, t-shirts, galabiyyas and much more. After shopping, head to the popular Fishawi’s café for a cup of traditional tea. Your visit to Cairo is incomplete, if you haven’t come here.
Highlight: Resemblance of an old Arab souk
Established in the year 1908, Coptic Museum is a treasure house of Coptic art, depict the early days of Christianity in Egypt till Islam. The museum has beautiful detailed woodcarvings in all its galleries, sculptures from the Ptolemaic period, walls of monastery frescoes and rich textiles. There are around 1200 pieces on display.
The upstairs of Coptic Museum has 2 huge rooms that showcases Coptic textiles with stunning embroidery from 4th to 7th century, Nag Hammadi manuscripts- the main source of nosticism, world’s oldest book on psalms including 2 original wooden covers. There is a collection of 16,000 works of art, with 1,200 real treasures, and 6,000 papyrus manuscripts.
Tickets: Adult/Student/Audio Guide- Egyptian Dollar 60/30/10
Timings: 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
The Red Pyramid of Dahshur
Also known as the North Pyramid in Dahshur, Red pyramid derives its name from the pinkish limestone, which is made up of. It is Egypt’s third largest pyramid, after those of Khufu and Khafra at Giza and is one of those which are open for visitors. It was erected by the father of Khufu, Pharaoh Sneferu (2575-2551 BC). According to the ancient graffiti, this structure was constricted in 10 years and 7 months.
Red Pyramid has three chambers. The entrance of the pyramid is on the northern side. A downhill passage takes you to the chamber that has corbelled roof. Other chambers are also connected through passages. The Mortuary temple is also placed on the eastern side of the pyramid.
Highlights- The third largest pyramid of Egypt
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