The mighty Nile, the magnificent monuments, the beguiling desert and lush delta, a long past and story-loving people: welcome to Egypt, the gift of the Nile.
Egypt is home to some of the oldest monuments in the world: from the breathtaking sights of the pyramids to the clear blue waters of the Red Sea, this wonderful, historical land is filled with sights and experiences that will fill the soul. Here the top 6 places to visit in Egypt:
Tomb of Seti I, Luxor
One of the great achievements of Egyptian art, this cathedral-like tomb is the finest in the Valley of the Kings. Long closed to visitors, it is now reopened to the public. The 137m-long tomb was completely decorated and beautifully preserved when Giovanni Belzoni opened it in 1817, and although it has suffered since, it still offers an eye-popping experience – art from Seti’s reign is among the finest in Egypt. Seti I, who succeeded Ramses I and was father of Ramses II, ruled some 70 years after the death of Tutankhamun. After the chaos of the Akhenaten years at Tell Al Amarna, Seti I’s reign was a golden age that saw a revival of Old Kingdom-style art, best seen at his temple in Abydos and here in his tomb.
Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara
There are over 130 pyramids in Egypt, but the Pyramid of Djoser, or Step Pyramid, in the ancient Saqqara necropolis was the first ever to be built. It was designed by an architect called Imhotep, a genius of the ancient times who was promoted to vizier following the pyramid’s construction and became the second most powerful man after the pharaoh. The pyramid was intended to be one mastaba (step) constructed over the tomb. After seeing the construction of the first step, Imhotep decided to enlarge it, then added five more steps ending with a conical shape pointing to the sun. The Step Pyramid of Djoser takes credit for the outstanding architectural achievements that followed in Egypt.
The Great Sphinx, Giza
The Great Sphinx is among the world’s largest sculptures, measuring some 240 feet (73 metres) long and 66 feet (20 metres) high. It features a lion’s body and a human head adorned with a royal headdress. The statue was carved from a single piece of limestone, and pigment residue suggests that the entire Great Sphinx was painted. According to some estimates, it would have taken about three years for 100 workers, using stone hammers and copper chisels, to finish the statue. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the face of the Pharaoh Khafra.
The Hanging Church, Coptic Cairo
Located within Old Coptic Cairo Masr al-Qadima) in what was ancient Egypt’s Heliopolite Nome, the Hanging Church is just a stone’s throw from the famous Babylon Fortress. Beyond its historical and religious importance, the church has a number of architecturally distinguishing features. Two bell towers loom above the church, which as a whole is modeled to resemble Noah’s ark. Notably, the church is one of the first in Egypt to be built in the style of a basilica. The porch, which dates to the 11th century, has somewhat miraculously survived centuries of shuffling feet and processions.
Temple of Isis at Philae
Built during the reign of Ptolemy II (Egypt’s Greco-Roman Period), the Temple of Isis at Philae is dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. The temple walls contain scenes from Egyptian mythology of Isis bringing Osiris back to life, giving birth to Horus, and mummifying Osiris after his death.
From early times the island was sacred to the goddess Isis. Its decorations, dating from the period of the later Ptolemies and of the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius were never completed. The Roman emperor Hadrian added a gate west of the complex. Other small temples or shrines dedicated to Egyptian deities include a temple to Imhotep, one to Hathor, and chapels to Osiris, Horus, and Nephthys.
Temple of Kom Ombo, Aswan
Standing on a promontory at a bend in the Nile, where in ancient times sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the riverbank, is the Temple of Kom Ombo, one of the Nile Valley’s most beautifully sited temples. Unique in Egypt, it is dedicated to two gods; the local crocodile god Sobek, and Haroeris, meaning Horus the Elder.
The temple’s twin dedication is reflected in its plan: perfectly symmetrical along the main axis of the temple, there are twin entrances, two linked hypostyle halls with carvings of the two gods on either side, and twin sanctuaries. Reused blocks suggest an earlier temple from the Middle Kingdom period, but the main temple was built by Ptolemy VI Philometor, and most of its decoration was completed by Cleopatra VII’s father, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos.
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