Egypt – the land of the pharaohs. Over 5000 years of history paired with breathtaking ancient legacies and beautiful vacation flair – Egypt has all this in store for you. Not for nothing is the country on the Nile one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Dive into the realm of the ancient Egyptians and explore the tombs of the former kings and rulers or let the sun shine on your body at the white beaches of the Middle as well as the Red Sea. Especially the Red Sea attracts year-round with its species-rich diving grounds, which are among the most popular in the world. Here is our list of the 28 best places to visit in Egypt.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world with more than 10 million inhabitants. The city is both the seat of the Egyptian government and the economic and cultural center of Egypt. Due to Egypt’s prehistory, Cairo has a lot to offer in terms of cultural treasures. In addition to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo is home to numerous interesting buildings, theaters and especially the pyramids of Giza.
About a quarter of all Egyptians live in the greater Cairo area. It is a multicultural melting pot and both modern metropolis and oriental trade center. Chaos is simply a part of life on the streets. Throughout history, Cairo has been given several proud names – such as El-Qahira – the Victorious, or Umm ed-Dunja – Mother of the World. The strategic good location between the Nile Delta and the Nile Valley promoted the emergence of a solid settlement and later an important metropolis. Old Cairo, New Heliopolis, the Old City – Cairo offers many quarters worth seeing.
The venerable pyramids of Giza are not only one of the most famous sights on the outskirts, but also one of the highlights of Egypt. So if you also want to be under the spell of the oldest preserved structures of mankind, you should definitely plan a trip to this amazing wonder of the world.
Built between 2620 and 2500 BC, the masterpieces are located only about 15 kilometers west of Cairo and about eight kilometers away from the city of Giza. The most famous and largest pyramid of the Giza pyramids is the Cheops pyramid, which is believed to have been built of about 3 million stone blocks. But also the Chephren pyramid, which is covered with limestone slabs, is a real eye-catcher.
From the Khafre pyramid you can also reach another monumental highlight: the Sphinx. This majestically built sculpture has been enthroned above the plateau of Giza for 4,000 years and attracts masses of tourists every year. In this regard, however, it should be noted that the Sphinx was buried under sand until the 19th century. Only the head of the imposing construction protruded. Characteristic for the lying lion with human head is especially the cut off nose of the statue. The smallest pyramid is the Mykerinos pyramid, which was built between 2540 and 2520 BC by the pharaoh Mykerinos as a burial place.
In ancient times, Memphis was the largest city in Egypt for almost three millennia. Its ruins lie about 20 kilometers southwest of Cairo. Preserved are the remains of temples, palaces and a monumental figure of Pharaoh Ramses II. According to its founding mythology, Memphis was created by Pharaoh Menes, according to historian Manetho the first pharaoh to unite Upper and Lower Egypt five thousand years ago.
The ruins are spread over a large area, interspersed with agriculture and palm groves. In between lies an Arab village called Mit-Rahina. Not to be missed are the colossal figure of Ramses II from the 13th century BC and the alabaster sphinx of Amenophis II (15th century BC). The monumental figures give an impression of how large the Temple of Ptah at Memphis must once have been.
The reclining colossal figure of Ramses II once stood upright more than 13 meters high at the entrance to the temple of Ptah. After its overthrow, it was partially covered by sand and earth and was only excavated by archaeologists in 1888. To protect the monumental statue from wind and weather, a hall was built over it.
A walkway on the first floor and a second elevated walkway allow visitors to admire the colossal figure from several perspectives. Feet and legs are destroyed. The torso is still well preserved. Ramses wears the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt on his royal headscarf and a uraeus snake on his forehead. On his chin he wears a ceremonial beard. He is dressed in a belted apron. In several places his name is given in hieroglyphics.
The alabaster sphinx dating from the 18th dynasty also stood in the entrance area of the temple of Ptah. It was excavated in 1912 by the famous British archaeologist W.M. Flinders Petrie. It is 8.70 meters long, 4.70 meters high and weighs about 80 tons.
Next to Cairo, Luxor, the former magnificent capital of the Old Kingdom, is one of the main sights of the country. Luxor is considered “the largest open-air museum in the world”. It is the ancient city of the pharaohs. Once it was the capital of Egypt and the spiritual and religious center. The city is centrally located in Upper Egypt. The Nile divides Luxor into the west and east banks. This symbolized life and death in ancient Egypt. Many sights in and around the city attract countless tourists every year. The famous Karnak Temple should not be missed, as well as a visit to the Valley of the Kings. The main traffic artery of the city is the Nile quay, where the river cruise ships also dock. Luxor is almost a “must” of every trip to Egypt. Here you can experience the history of the ancient empire and the pharaohs up close.
The temple of Luxor was built in the time of the New Kingdom. It is the sight par excellence in Luxor. Many famous pharaohs participated in its construction: Tutankhamun, Hatshepsut, Ramses II. … The temple is connected with the Karnak temple, 2.5 kilometers away, by an avenue flanked on both sides with ram figures. Via courtyard, vestibule and vestibule one reaches the holy of holies. There, in the neighboring Birth Hall, reliefs tell of the divine origin of Amenophis III. Also worthwhile in the evening is a visit to the light and sound show.
Aswan is located on the eastern bank of the Nile, about 900 kilometers south of Cairo. It is the fourth largest city in Upper Egypt. It has been known as a health resort since ancient times – even the former British colonial rulers chose it as their winter health resort. Assuan’s sand relieves ailments such as rheumatism and joint pain. The Corniche on the banks of the Nile invites you to stroll. Watch the passing feluccas (Nile sailors) on the river from here.
A visit to the Aswan Dam is a must. Other attractions include Kitchener Island and Elephantine Island. Also the Botanical Garden, the Philae Temple and the Unfinished Obelisk should be visited. In the famous hotel “Old Cataract” Agatha Christie wrote her world famous crime novel “Death on the Nile”. The ancient Egyptians called Aswan “Sunu” and the ancient Greeks “Syene”. At that time, Aswan was an important caravan center and transshipment point for trade with Central Africa. Here, in Egypt’s southernmost city, the empire once ended.
Only about 7 km south of the famous necropolises of Sakkara stretches the pyramid field of Dahshur, named after the village of the same name Menschije Dahshur, which lies within sight of the monumental tomb monuments in the fertile land. The pyramid field extends for a distance of about 3 km along the edge of the desert.
The two main pyramids of Dahshur are the largest and most sublime in Egypt, after those of Giza. The two monumental buildings of Pharaoh Snofru from the fourth dynasty show the pioneering work of the early pyramid builders 4600 years ago. In the shadow of these monumental buildings are the remains of pyramids and mastaba tombs from the Middle Kingdom. Unlike the Giza Plateau, there are few tourists here. On good days you have the pyramids to yourself, a real insider tip for true pyramid fans.
22. Sharm el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh is a city on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Sharm el-Sheikh is, next to Hurghada, the most famous Egyptian resort on the Red Sea.
Originally, Sharm el-Sheikh was a small fishing village that has existed for at least two hundred years. Because of its strategic location, the town was briefly occupied by Israel during the Suez Crisis of 1956. From 1967 to 1982, Sharm el-Sheikh, like the rest of the Sinai, belonged to Israel. Then it was returned to Egypt.
In the last three decades, there has been a building boom because of the growing tourism. What has emerged is a resort town devoted entirely to international tourism. By Egyptian standards, the streets are relatively clean and public facilities are well organized. Because of the good infrastructure, international atmosphere and presentable cityscape, foreign delegations like to come to Sharm el-Sheikh for conferences and business forums.
The center of the old fishing village, called Old Sharm, with its harbor and small bay is located in the south of the city. This is where most of the locals live. In this area there are many restaurants, souvenir stores and other shopping facilities. To the south, this area of the city continues in the district of El Hadaba. Here many wealthy Egyptians and foreigners have built their vacation homes. There are also some hotels here.
21. Siwa Oasis
Once completely cut off from the outside world, the Siwa Oasis suddenly appeared like a revelation in the middle of the Libyan Desert.
The paradise-like natural wonder is still one of the most remote oases in the country. It stretches in a depression, 18 meters below sea level, in northwestern Egypt near the border with Libya. If you come across the oasis in the middle of the barren desert wasteland, you suddenly think you are in paradise. Many large and small bubbling springs, lakes of different sizes, countless palm trees towering in whole groves and olive trees, which can grow here because of the temperate climate, shape the appearance of the Siwa Oasis. Vegetables and fruits needed for consumption also grow in the fertile oasis.
About 12,000 people live in the seclusion of the oasis – most of them are Berbers, including Bedouins and descendants of former Lebanese slaves. In this remote place, the customs and traditions of the nomadic people are still maintained. They wear their typical clothes and speak “Siwi”, a language of the Berbers.
Siwa was important in the past mainly as the seat of the Oracle of Amun. The place dates back to around 1500 BC, when pilgrims came to seek advice. Even Alexander the Great once consulted the Oracle of Amun before ascending the throne as Pharaoh. Remains of the once important oracle still exist today and can be found mainly in the village of Aghurmi 160.
The old town of Siwa is also worth a close look, because with its old, partly destroyed mud buildings from the 13th century it conveys a very special atmosphere. Particularly impressive is the inselberg, which protrudes from the middle of the buildings.
Sacred and ancient: Along with the Valley of the Kings and the pyramid plateau of Giza, the extensive necropolis area of Sakkara is the most important necropolis from ancient Egypt and one of the most important archaeological sites in the country.
The name Sakkara probably originally derives from the Egyptian god Sokar, an archaic god of the dead and local god of the region west of the ancient residential city and imperial metropolis of Memphis.
A huge open-air museum of tombs, mastabas, pyramids (12 of which are royal pyramids from the Old and Middle Kingdoms), catacombs and funerary temples extends over two main areas (Sakkara-South and Sakkara-North). For about 3000 years Sakkara was one of the most important sites for the cult of the dead or for the burial and worship of important deceased. Numerous kings were buried here.
In Sakkara-North there are tombs from different epochs, from the early Egyptian period (1st and 2nd dynasties, about 3100-2700 BC) to the time of Persian rule (5th and 4th centuries BC). In addition, the ruins of an important Coptic monastery are located right next to the burial grounds of the Pharaonic period. A purpose-built museum at Sakkara houses an excellent selection of important archaeological finds from the excavation area. Although most of the tombs in Sakkara are closed to tourism for conservation reasons and may only be viewed from the outside, there are, however, some highlights among the pyramids and tombs that are open to visitors from all over the world and some of which may also be viewed from the inside.
Alexandria, located in the far west of the Nile Delta, is also called the “Pearl of the Mediterranean”. It is the second largest city in Egypt with a population of about 4.3 million. It was founded in 332 BC by Alexander the Great and soon developed into the center of the Hellenistic world. Later, Alexandria was under Roman rule – as was all of Egypt. It was followed around 642 by the Arabs, the Ottoman Empire, the British….
The Great Library of Alexandria – once the center of the ancient world – is still famous today. Today it is a beautiful blend of history and modernity that makes Alexandria worth seeing. And the beautiful coast of the Mediterranean invites you to relax. And the old town of Alexandria is – as in ancient times – full of oriental life. The center of the city is the freedom square Midan Tahrir. From here it is straight to the magnificent Corniche and the main harbor. Alexandria is – after Cairo – the most important city in Egypt.
Hurghada is the largest seaside resort in Egypt on the Red Sea and one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. The coastline in Hurghada and the surrounding area is famous for its beaches and coral reefs and is therefore a sought-after destination for divers, bathers and sun worshippers.
Originally Hurghada was a small fishing village. Of the old town, the medina with its mosque and bazaar, something is still preserved in the Dahar district and at the harbor in the Sekala district. Foreigners rarely strayed here at that time. They were either members of oil production companies or professional divers who wanted to explore the coral reefs of the Red Sea. In the 1970s, the place developed into an insider tip for divers and individual tourists. As the number of hobby divers grew in Europe, there was an increasing demand for exceptional diving destinations for vacation trips. The Red Sea is the ideal region for coral reefs to thrive because of its clean, calm, warm and very salty water.
From the architecture and infrastructure, one can clearly see that Hurghada, like most Red Sea cities, is not an evolved place, but a retort city, solely focused on tourism. Hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities for travelers determine the cityscape accordingly. A kind of center can be found only in the district Dahar. In the district of Sekala, which is located to the south, the harbor is the main attraction.
17. Abu Simbel
Among the most prominent monumental buildings from ancient Egypt are the two rock temples of Abu Simbel. They date from the reign of Pharaoh Ramses the Great.
The rock temple ensemble of Abu Simbel is one of the largest temple complexes in Nubia. In the geographical sense, Nubia is the landscape and the section of the Nile between Aswan in the north and Khartoum in the south. There are two rock temples: a small one and a large one. The large one was dedicated to the worship of the divine Pharaoh Ramses II together with the three great imperial gods, Ptah of Memphis, Amun-Re of Thebes and Re-Harachte of Heliopolis.
The three most important temple institutions of the Ramesside period are also associated with these gods’ names. Similar to the funerary temples of the kings, in Abu Simbel the worship of Pharaoh is linked to the cults of the gods. The other, smaller of the two temples is dedicated to the royal consort Nofretari.
16. White Desert
The White Desert National Park is a 3,010 square kilometer nature reserve in Egypt about 30 kilometers north of Qasr Farafra and is already mostly located in the depression of the Farafra Oasis. The protected area is one of the most exceptional areas in the Western Desert. It stretches roughly from Crystal Mountain in the north to El Tabali Table Mountain in the south (about 50 kilometers) and from the Hidden Valley (in Wadi Obeid) in the west more than 100 kilometers to the east. Two buffer areas covering 971 square kilometers are still designated to the west and south.
The White Desert area was declared a protected area in 2002. The landscape is characterized by limestone and chalk cliffs. The desert was formed from the remains of microscopic sea creatures whose habitat was here about 80 million years ago.
After the disappearance of the sea, winds caused the formation of today’s rocks. Depending on the composition or hardness of the rocks and their stratification, bizarre formations such as mushrooms, tower-like or finger-like structures were formed over the course of time. With a little imagination one can recognize dogs, camels and other creatures in them.
15. Monastery of Saint Simeon
On the other side of the Nile, opposite the city of Aswan and the island of Elephantine, within walking distance from the mausoleum of the Aga Khan, is the Coptic monastery of Saint Simeon.
On the one hand, there is a modern monastery with ongoing monastic operations. On the other hand, north of it, there are the famous ruins of the late antique and medieval monastic fortress. From the boat landing on the bank of the Nile it is about 20 to 30 minutes walk through the desert landscape to the monastery. Usually camel drivers wait at the boat landing and offer a camel ride to the monastery for a fee.
The Coptic monastery was founded in the 7th century. Most of the buildings date back to the high Middle Ages. In the 13th century the complex was abandoned and the monks stopped working there. The alleged reason was the difficulty in obtaining water. But the monastery also suffered from Bedouin raids. Although the monastery walls were fortified, there was no sustainable water supply in the event of a prolonged siege when the route to the Nile was cut off. The complex extends over two levels, due to the natural terracing of the rocky landscape.
14. Abydos Temple
The limestone temple in Abydos, built by Sethos I (19th dynasty, 13th century B.C.) and completed by Ramses II, is one of the most interesting temples in Egypt, even if it presents itself to the visitor at first more inconspicuous than the Theban temples. At first sight the complex reminds of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari (West Thebes): The complex is terraced and the fronts are equipped with pillared halls.
In contrast to the mortuary temples in western Thebes six other gods were worshipped besides the pharaoh who had become Osiris, namely the imperial gods Amun, Re-Harach and Ptah who were dominant in the New Kingdom and who otherwise had their centers in Thebes, Heliopolis and Memphis, and the well-known family of gods Osiris, Isis and Horus who appear here as the Abydenian triad and enjoyed great popularity and reputation until the end of the pharaonic period.
Originally, the cold stone temple was surrounded by a mud brick enclosure wall measuring about 220 by 270 meters, of which hardly anything remains. On the northeast side, one can still see the remains of the economic buildings with their long magazines. The temple itself measures 56 by 157 meters. Its axis, which also symbolizes the processional way for the festivals of the gods, is ritual east-west oriented, i.e. facing the Nile. Thereby, the directions of the sky were not exactly observed, because, strictly speaking, the axis leads from northeast to southwest.
13. St. Catherine’s Monastery
One of the most important cultural and historical monuments of Sinai is the Monastery of St. Catherine. It is located in the center of the peninsula at an altitude of about 1585 meters above sea level. From the village of el-Milga you can reach the monastery after about two kilometers. There, at the foot of Gebel Musa (2285 meters) and overlooked by the peak of Gebel Katarina (2642 meters), it has found its place in a deep valley depression.
The Greek Orthodox monastery, which is considered one of the oldest monasteries of Christianity, owes its name to Saint Catherine. However, the martyr from Alexandria, who died in the fourth century, has been the patroness of St. Catherine’s Monastery only since the Middle Ages. This was previously dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to legend, the bones of St. Catherine mysteriously appeared on the mountain of the same name. For the monks, this was reason enough for a name change.
The place where St. Catherine’s Monastery was built is almost legendary and of great importance for Jews and Christians. Exactly at this place God showed himself to Moses in the form of a burning thorn bush. A broom bush, which is considered to be an offshoot of the legendary thorn bush, can still be seen inside the monastery walls. And on nearby Mount Moses (Gebel Musa), Mount Sinai, Moses received the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Numerous pilgrims still make the journey today to climb to the top of the mountain and feel something of the special atmosphere.
12. Wadi Al-Hitan
In Wadi el-Hitan belongs to the nature reserve of Wadi el-Rayan. Wadi el-Hitan means valley of the whales. Since 2005 it belongs to the UNESCO world natural heritage.
The almost 1.800 km² large nature reserve is located in the Fayyum. Here you can find many fossil remains of whales. It is not possible to drive in the valley by car, because the cars have destroyed too many fossils. 8 km² of the nature reserve are now reserved for the whales.
In the area of Wadi el-Hitan there was an ocean 2 million years ago, so remains of whales etc. were deposited in the sedimentary rocks. You will find skeletons, shark teeth, shells and corals. You can also see fossil plant remains there. The most interesting are certainly the large whale skeletons. An incredible 250 large skeletons have been found so far. “Exhibited”, however, are only very few, these are located next to the marked paths. Most of the skeletons are still hidden in the sand to protect them. Therefore, you should not leave the marked path, otherwise you will destroy them.
A visit to Wadi el-Hitan can be well combined with a visit to Wadi el-Rayan, there you can cool off in one of the smaller waterfalls in the middle of the desert.
11. Temple of Hathor
Besides the temples of Edfu , Esna and Kom Ombo, the Hathor temple of Dendera is one of the highlights of any Nile cruise or Egypt tour. Dendera, is located about 50 kilometers north of Luxor near the city of Qena (Kena), where in Upper Egypt the Nile takes a big bend first to the east (so-called Qena bend), and then flows again to the west and finally in a roughly northern direction. Because of this location, the axis of the temple is not laid out from east to west, as in the other temples of Egypt, but from north to south. In front of the temple lies the fertile land of the Nile valley, behind the temple begins the desert.
The temple was built mostly in Ptolemaic and Roman times. It is one of the best preserved buildings from ancient Egypt and, like the one in Edfu, still stands with a complete roof. Also preserved are sparse remains of the colorful decoration of the temple. Historical paintings from the 19th century show that the colors of the reliefs and hieroglyphic inscriptions were excellently preserved a hundred years ago.
10. Monastery of St. Anthony
The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery in the rocky mountain ranges of the eastern desert not far from the Red Sea coast. It is located about 150 southeast of Cairo and a little less than 100 km south of Suez at the foot of the 1464 m high Galala rock plateau in the Wadi Araba.
St. Anthony’s Monastery is the oldest and largest Coptic monastery in Egypt. Its name goes back to Saint Anthony (251-356), who lived here as an ascetic hermit in the desert and later founded a monastic community of hermits. Together with St. Pachom, Anthony is considered one of the forefathers of Christian monasticism. In the monastery are kept relics, which according to tradition are attributed to him. Only 300 meters above the monastery there is a rocky grotto where Antonius is said to have lived.
Presumably, the monastery was founded shortly after the death of Anthony (356) by his disciples and followers at his burial place. There is little visible evidence of this founding period. A spring in the middle of the monastery area allowed agricultural cultivation and the settlement of several people. Skillful and economical use of water made it possible to practice effective oasis farming. In the later centuries, especially in the 12th century, St. Anthony’s Monastery was raided and plundered by Bedouin tribes who often came by way of the Sinai.
After a period of prosperity in the High Middle Ages, the monastery was again raided and devastated by Bedouins in 1454. In the process, parts of the monastery library were also destroyed. In response to the raids, the entire monastery complex was fortified with protective walls and fortifications. A square defense tower was built and the monastery was restored.
9. Valley of the Kings
On the west bank of the Nile near Luxor , behind the rock face of ” Deir el-Bahari ” and at the foot of the pyramid-shaped mountain massif “el-Qurn”, lies in a deeply cut valley one of the most famous necropolises in the world. It is the ” Valley of the Kings “, the place with the tombs of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (15th to 11th century BC), under whose rule Egypt experienced a flowering of high culture and international importance.
Hardly any other place in Egypt is surrounded by more myths and legends than this valley. In contrast to the preceding pyramid time, during which the kings had created their funerary monument in structural connection with mortuary temple and valley temple, under the pharaohs of the New Kingdom the actual grave was spatially separated from the royal cult facilities and instead of a pyramid a rock grave was cut into the wall of a natural pyramid, namely the pyramid-like mountain massif near Thebes.
Here the royal mummies rested hidden in the midst of their splendid and golden sparkling grave goods in colorfully decorated rock tombs. 64 tombs have been discovered so far, but except for the treasure-filled tomb of Tutankhamun, all had already been opened and found robbed. Many fell victim to grave robbers in ancient times and stood open for centuries.
8. Karnak Temple
Along with the pyramids of Giza, it is the highlight of any trip to Egypt and the destination of millions of visitors every year: the great temple city of Karnak. In fact, the ruins of Karnak, located two kilometers north of Luxor, are much more than just the remains of a temple. It is a vast complex of many different temples and cult sites that are interrelated.
This is where the religious heart of Egypt beat for many centuries. Karnak was the main place of worship of the imperial god Amun-Re and the largest sanctuary of the entire empire. Along with Amun, the deities Mut, Chons, Month, Opet, Ptah and Min were also worshipped. The gods Amun, Mut and Chons form a triad, a typical family of gods, consisting of father, mother and child of the gods.
7. Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Picturesque and photogenic, the world-famous Terrace Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (18th dynasty, 15th century BC) nestles in the rock face of Deir el-Bahari , not far from the Valley of the Kings in western Thebes. It is one of the most famous and remarkable structures of ancient Egypt. The idiosyncratic architecture reminds of the neighboring model of the temple of Mentuhotep from the Middle Kingdom, nevertheless, the complex of Hatshepsut is a peculiarity in Egyptian architectural history. In its present form, reconstructed by Polish archaeologists and building historians, the building seems almost modern, as if it had been built in the Bauhaus style. However, in ancient times the temple was colorfully decorated and its forecourt was probably planted with trees.
The sanctuary is a combination of mortuary temple and temple of the gods. The site, now called Deir el-Bahari in Arabic, meaning “northern monastery,” and referring to a Coptic monastery that stood here in the early Middle Ages, was called “Djeseret”: “the holy” in ancient Egypt. This religious meaning of the valley, which was also interpreted as a threshold or transition from this world to the afterlife kingdom of the dead, is the reason why, apart from the temple of Hatshepsut, many other monuments are located here: the funerary temples of Mentuhotep and Thutmosis III. , numerous rock tombs from two millennia and monumental funerary monuments from the late period.
The approximately two thousand year old Temple of Horus in Edfu is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt and is an outstanding sight, especially because of its completely preserved roofing and its classical ideal ground plan.
Edfu is located on the west bank of the Nile between Aswan in the south and Luxor in the north. In pharaonic times Edfu was the main place of the second Upper Egyptian district, which was called “Horus Throne” in Egyptian, then Apollonopolis in Greek-Roman times. As a prominent cult site of the god Horus, the city’s temple was a nationally important sanctuary. Horus bears in some hieroglyphic inscriptions the epithet “Horus of Behdet” or “the one of Behdet” (Behdet = Edfu). Here, according to Egyptian mythology, the falcon-headed Horus should have passed a fight against his adversary Seth. This Horus-Seth constellation, good versus evil, order versus chaos, is a central figure of thought in ancient Egyptian religion and mythology.
The Horus temple was built on the foundation of an older temple from the New Kingdom, of which the remains of a pylon of Ramses III are still preserved. Also from the Middle Kingdom a predecessor temple is attested at this place. The new building was founded in 237 B.C. under Ptolemy III Euergetes I. The construction work continued under Ptolemy IV Philopator and his successors. Finally, the building project was completed in 57 BC under Ptolemy XII. Neos Dionysos, who had the great pylon decorated with reliefs.
The temple measures approximately 137 m in length from south to north and 79-80 m in width. The entrance pylon is about 36 m high. In its shape and ground plan it corresponds to the classical ideal scheme of an Egyptian temple.
5. Aswan Dam
The pyramids are the wonder of the ancient world, the Aswan Dam the wonder of the modern world – this is how the Egyptians proudly speak of their country’s largest modern construction project. With a length of 3,600 meters and a height of over 110 meters, it dams up the Nile to form a 500-kilometer-long reservoir. The dam was completed in 1970 and inaugurated in 1971. In Arabic, it is called Sadd el-Ali.
The idea of damming the Nile was an old one. Already in ancient Egypt at the time of the pharaohs, numerous dams and dikes were built to keep the water on the fields as long as possible after the annual Nile flood and to distribute it there. Dams were also built to hold back the spontaneous floods of the wadis and divert them into canals.
The natural rhythm of the Nile with its annual flooding was good for agriculture because it flooded the fields and deposited fertile Nile mud on them. But there were also problems. For one thing, people were dependent on the rhythm of the seasons. Multiple harvests were not possible because the water level of the Nile was initially too low in summer and then too high due to the Nile flood.
In addition, it was discovered as early as the 19th century that the country could not be modernized in an industrial sense as long as most of the Nile Valley was submerged for several months and the towns and settlements rose like islands out of the flood. How could factories, roads and railroads be built in such a landscape? In addition, people were worried about the country’s power supply.
4. Mortuary Temple of Ramses III.
The mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramses III at Medinet Habu is one of the largest and most magnificent of its kind and is the best preserved temple in western Thebes. In addition to the mortuary temple and its outer fortifications, the complex also includes a smaller temple of Amun, originally dating back to the 18th Dynasty, and small chapel sanctuaries of some Theban god wives.
In the mortuary temple of Ramesses III the royal cult of the dead was combined with the cult of Amun-Re, Ra-Harachte, Osiris, Ptah and Min. In addition to its religious significance, the temple was both a military fortress and an important economic center, with large fortress walls and numerous mud-brick buildings constructed around the temple within the outer perimeter walls: Magazines and warehouses, barracks and armories, horse stables and equipment stores, offices and archives, ponds and green areas. The layout shows how many Egyptian temples were also fortresses of the gods, economic and political feudal castles of the priestly elite. Although not much remains of the secular mud-brick buildings, the main areas of the stone temple still bear witness to the former splendor and monumentality of the entire temple complex.
3. Temple of Philae
Some of the most beautiful and best preserved temple complexes in Egypt are located on the small island of Angílkia near Aswan south of the first cataract and about 3 km south of the ancient dam. However, as with the temple complexes of Abu Simbel and Kalabsha , this is not the original site of the temples. Originally, the temple ensemble stood on the famous Nile island of Philae, which sank in the water because of the small reservoir between the old and new dams.
As a result, the cultural monuments were endangered and had to be moved to the higher situated neighboring island Angílkia, which today is a popular tourist destination as New Philae. The temple complexes date exclusively from the Late Period and Greco-Roman times. The ensemble of cult buildings on Philae was the last great sanctuary of ancient Egyptian religion and a swan song of Egyptian temple architecture.
Philae was an important place of worship and pilgrimage to the goddess Isis in ancient times. Because of the imposing temple complexes and the picturesque location in the Nile, the island impressed European travelers of the last centuries and was considered the pearl of Egypt. The island was about 460 meters long and 150 meters wide, overgrown with many palm trees and bushes and, surrounded by the blue waters of the Nile, a colorful natural-cultural ensemble in the middle of the Nubian rocky desert. Most of the buildings of Philae date back to the Greek-Roman antiquity.
The last relief decorations were placed during the reigns of the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus (second half of the 2nd century AD). At that time, the cult of Isis was very popular not only in Egypt, but also in large parts of the Mediterranean. Accordingly, the island was known beyond the borders of Egypt.
2. Port Said
Next to Alexandria, Port Said is the most important port city in Egypt. Although Port Said does not have a medieval old town or monuments from the time of the pharaohs, it offers residents a high standard of living by national standards. This is reflected in the (relatively) well-kept cityscape. There are numerous parks, gardens and wide boulevards. Like Suez and Ismailia, Port Said owes its existence to the Suez Canal. Port Said was founded in 1859.
With no predecessors and no natural resources, the city had to be built literally from scratch. The city grew rapidly. Once the canal was inaugurated, it was able to benefit economically from its unique location at the entrance to the canal.
In the 20th century, Port Said grew to become the second largest port city in Egypt. Growth was so rapid that a sister city even had to be founded to solve the pressing problem of overpopulation. The transshipment hub in the port area has benefited from its status as a free trade zone for more than three decades. Many Egyptians come to Port Said for their duty-free shopping. Today, Port Said is also an important location for Egyptian tourism. While foreign tourists mainly spend their time on the Red Sea or visit ancient monuments on the Nile, wealthy Egyptians – and increasingly those from the middle class – travel to the Mediterranean during the hot summer months, preferably to Alexandria or Port Said. On the coast, the summer is more bearable because of the sea breeze, and there are beaches for swimming and waterfront promenades for strolling.
1. Mount Sinai
After about four thousand steps carved in stone and 2,285 meters of altitude climbed, the summit of Mount Sinai is reached and rewards for the strenuous climb with a breathtaking view of the Sinai massif. Especially at dawn, when the sun rises glowing red above the mountain peaks and bathes the entire area in the warm light, the place exudes a special magic.
Although the exact geographical location of Mount Sinai, which was already named in the Bible, can no longer be named with certainty in modern times, thousands and thousands of pilgrims nevertheless flock to the supposedly historic site every year.