Egypt is considered the oldest travel destination on earth. The African nation’s awe-inspiring temples and pyramids have captured the imagination of travelers for thousands of years. Although most people come to Egypt to view its ancient monuments, natural attractions beckon travelers too. The Red Sea coast is known for its coral reefs and beach resorts. A trek through the Sahara can lead visitors to refreshing freshwater spring oasis.
Giza Necropolis, Egypt
The Giza necropolis, situated in the immediate vicinity of the southwestern suburbs of Cairo is probably the most famous ancient site in the world. The pyramids, together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau, are the iconic image of Egypt. They were built over the span of three generations – by Khufu, his second reigning son Khafre, and his grandson Menkaure. Along with these major monuments are a number of smaller satellite structures, known as queen pyramids, causeways and temples.
Karna is the largest ancient religious site ever built, and represents the combined achievement of many generations of Egyptian builders. The Temple of Karnak actually consists of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about 2.5 kilometers north of Luxor. One of most famous structures of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall, a hall area of 5,000 m2 (50,000 sq ft) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows.
One thousand years after the construction of the Great Pyramids, the New Kingdom arose in Egypt, and power shifted from the ancient capital of Memphis to Thebes in the south, the site of modern-day Luxor. One of the best places to visit in Egpypt, the mid-sized city has much to offer the traveler from the ancient temples of Karnak and Luxor, to the ancient royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and spectacular desert and river scenery.
Red Sea Reef, Egypt
The Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt, is one of the most beautiful places in the world to go diving. The waters of the Red Sea are renowned for their spectacular visibility and features some of the most exotic seascapes. With its wide expanse of coral formation on the reefs, it is home to thousands of different sea creatures. Red Sea beach resorts are located on both sides of the sea, on the east side and part of the Sinai peninsula is the long established Sharm el Sheikh and its neo-hippy counterpart, Dahab. On the west coast of the Red Sea lies relatively old and touristy Hurghada and a cluster of new resort towns.
Egyptian Museum, Egypt
Home to at least 120,000 items of ancient Egyptian antiquities, the Egyptian Museum is one of Cairo’s top attraction. There are two main floors of the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the ground floor there is an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in by the ancient Egyptians. On the first floor there are artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt and also many artifacts taken from the Valley of the Kings. Highlights include the objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamen and the Royal Mummy Room containing 27 royal mummies from pharaonic times.
Egypt’s southernmost city, Aswan is a mid-sized city located north of Lake Nasser. Although its own monuments are minor compared to Luxor’s, Aswan is the base for excursions to the temples of Philae and Kabasha and to the Sun Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, to the south. It is also the best starting point for excursions to the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu, between Aswan and Luxor.
Siwa Oasis, Egypt
Located near Egypt’s western border, Siwa Oasis remained culturally isolated from the rest of the country until late in the 19th century. Today, Siwa Oasis is an increasingly popular travel destination. Vacationers come to the city to enjoy the town’s many freshwater springs, to stroll through acres of palm groves and to explore ancient mud-built fortresses and remnants of Siwa’s Greco-Roman past.
Abu Simbel, Egypt
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock-cut temples in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses The Great in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari. The complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s, when the temples were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Abu Simbel remains one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions.
Dahab is located some 85 km (53 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Gulf of Aqaba, near the southern tip of Sinai. Once an isolated coastal village, Dahab turned into a hippie hangout in the 1980’s and became something of an “alternative resort”, mixing cheap accommodation with a laid back lifestyle. Activities such as wind surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and camel and jeep trips make it one of the most popular destinations along the Red Sea.
Located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, Alexandria is Egypt’s leading port and transportation hub. Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, the city was once considered the crossroads of the world. Many of Alexandria’s most famous historic sites, including a library that housed more than 500,000 books, were destroyed by devastating earthquakes in the 14th century. Today the city is a faded shade of its former glorious cosmopolitan self, but still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and glimpses of its past.
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