"My home Egypt ( mother of civilizations)" Egypt by kingtut707

Egypt Travel Guide: 16,145 reviews and 41,337 photos

There are not many countries in the world which present greater tourist attractions than Egypt and certainly not many with a longer history. Attractions in Egypt are so well known that the response to "I am off to Egypt" is always a "When?" and never a "Why?".
Given the security, Egypt is extremely safe to travel around. But it is definitely surprising to hear that the tourism wasn't affected by the events of 11th Sep. The only thing that seems to keep the tourists away is the heat. Summer in Egypt is a constant 40 C + which, thanks to the hot winds, seems twice that in the Sahara.
Egypt has enough history to leave anyone dazed. It is easy to feel intimidated by so many names and information hurled at you everyday. Although doing a bit of research before the trip helps, you will quickly realized that your best defense was to hire a guide at every spot, be it a temple, tomb or a museum. Even in the following pages, I have tried my best to separate the historical information about the sites.

Cairo and Vicinity

I recommend that you should spent three days in Al Kahira (otherwise known as Cairo) which is just about enough to give you a taste of what the city has to offer. The first of the three days is to be spent at the two of the biggest attractions of the city viz., the Giza pyramids and the Egyptian museum. Over the centuries the pyramids seem to have become the symbol of not only the country, but of history itself. The impact of the first sight of them was pretty breathtaking to say the least. The pyramid of Kufu (Cheops), the tallest of the three Giza pyramids, is the only surviving member of the seven ancient wonders of the world and at a height of 140 m; it also remained as the tallest structure in the world for over forty centuries.
Your estimated time at the site will be spent going into the pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) - which involved crawling through a long dark narrow passage half the human height - looking at the 4500 year old solar boat of Kufu (currently preserved in a temperature and dust controlled museum) and driving to the nearest plateau point to get the view of all the three pyramids in one shot. And of course, no trip to the region is complete without gaping at the sphinx and visiting the valley temple of Chephren and the nearby Papyrus institute - all of which were duly completed before lunch.
The Egyptian museum is so huge that it would take about an year to view all the exhibits. But a good guide can show you the highlights and probably teach you quite a bit of Egyptian history in less than two hours. The highlight of the museum will definitely be the Tutankhamun's section and the mummy room. The gold collection of Tutankhamun makes one wonder how much a pharaoh like Ramesis the great could have carried to his grave when the least important boy king took west Africa's budget deficit with him. The mummy room, on the other hand, presents you with an unique opportunity to look at Egypt's greatest rulers centuries after they breathed their last.
The trip to Saqqara and Memphis and braved the scorching heat to visit the oldest stone structure in the world - the step pyramid of Djozer. Built in 27 century BC by Imhoptep, the step pyramid is still in a very good condition. Saqqara complex also houses many other tombs, most of which are always closed for renovation or excavation. The ones which were open included the funerary complex of Djozer, the pyramid of Teti with its famous pyramid text, and the 32 room funerary complex of his vizier, Mereruka. Memphis, the capital of the first dynasty (c. 3200 BC), contrastingly, has nothing to offer except a small museum housing a fallen statue of Ramesis II.
In the rest of the day you can visit the Coptic Cairo and the Citadel. The Coptic museum, which contains relics dating from the first millennium AD and the hanging church, a 7th century church built on top of two towers (and hence the name) were the only things from the Coptic region which fit into our itinerary. The Citadel is the site of the famous Mohammed Ali mosque, built in 1830s as a scaled down replica of the blue mosque in Istanbul. It also houses the Mohammed Ali's palace where the host murdered 40 mameluke chiefs to start a new dynasty.
In the night, we had to choose between the sound and light show at the pyramids and a belly dance display?!!! That's for you to choose! ;)

Siwa and Alexandria

The first stop on your drive to the oasis of Siwa will be the monastery of Wadi Natrun. There are two of the four monasteries of the region. Deir Anba Bishoi, a 4th century monastery named after Anba Bishoi - the first monk in Wadi Natrun - and Deir al-Suryani, a 6th century monastery, named so as it was started by a group of Syrians after a dispute over the importance of virgin Mary.
Next stop was the war cemeteries of El Alamein. One of the most critical battles of the WW II was fought over the control of the Suez canal in the deserts of Egypt, Libya and Algeria. The battle ended in El Alamein when the allied 8th army under General Montgomery defeated the Afrika Korps under Field Marshal Rommel. All the details of the war can be seen at the excellent war museum. It was however very sad to see the cemeteries of the soldiers, most of whom were in their late teens when they attained martyrdom.
Siwa oasis is the westernmost of all oasis in Egypt lying at the edge of the great Saharan sand sea. Siwa is a very poor town where hooting of car horns is replaced with braying of donkey carts. Tourism, dates and olives are what keeping the locals from starving.
Like any self respecting site in Egypt, Siwa also hosts some ancient ruins and sites. The most famous of which include the oracle of Amun, visited once by Alexander the great himself who wanted to confirm his divine birth, the ruins of Shali, a 13th century berber town ruined by a rainfall in 1920s and the mountain of the dead, tombs of some Greek nobles some of which still housing mummified remains. All the three sites also offer excellent view of the oasis. Rest of the sites including a dirty pool attributed to Cleopatra, a unimpressive tomb attributed to Alexander, the great are eminently avoidable.
It is not the ruins but the proximity to the sand sea that is attracting the tourists to Siwa.
Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt after Cairo. Alexandria, due to its cooler Mediterranean climate is the biggest vacation spot among the locals.
The Greco-Roman museum will be your first stop on the following day. The museum houses sculptures from the Greek and Roman period pick of them being the busts of Roman emperors from Caesar to Marcus Aurelius. The 2nd century catacombs of Kom es-Shoqqafa is easily the pick of the sites in the city. The catacombs held over 300 mummies during the Roman times and it is interesting to see the Egyptian Gods portrayed with Greek and Roman attire. Jewellery museum houses a stunning array of diadems, bracelets and other artefacts - including a exceptionally beautiful chess set - mostly belonging to king Farouq. It is kept in an equally spectacular palace belonging to his wife's relative. The minor attractions of the city include Roman amphitheatre, Pompei's pillar (actually raised to honor Diocletian), Fort Qaitbey (a 15th century fort siting on top of ruins of ancient lighthouse of Alexandria) and Alexandria's new library.

  • Intro Updated Sep 23, 2004
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