Egypt has always been known for being the land of heritage and culture as it would take forever to fully reflect on an infinite amount of history and beauty this magical country has. Egypt is probably the oldest civilization on the face of the earth and also one of the few nations which have left a big mark on people’s hearts and minds for countless generations. Egypt’s legacy goes back to more than 5000 years filled with happiness and agony; each era had its own unique transformation and factors which made a great influence through the ages. Egypt’s cities and monuments are enchanting portraits reflecting the grandeur of ancient Egyptian History.
1. Cairo City
Cairo city is the heart and capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world, Africa, and the Middle East. Cairo is 160 km inland from the great Mediterranean Sea and 135 km from the red sea. the history of Cairo goes back to more than 1400 years, it has various names through history as in 640AD the Arabic commander ‘Amr ibn al-As’ called it al-Fustat and become the first capital of Islamic Egypt and the home of the mosque of Amr Ibn Al-as in the same year to be the first mosque in the history of Egypt and Africa. Then, it became the capital of the Fatimid dynasty and a famous trade center under the name Cairo or Al- Qahirah. It contains the famous churches that tracked the footsteps of the holy family across Egypt like the beautiful Hanging Church and Abu Serga church. The city of Cairo houses many mosques like the Al Azhar mosque which was built in 970 AD to be one of the major colleges in Egypt and the Arab world plus many majestic mosques from different time periods like Ibn Tulan and Sultan Hassan mosques. One of Egypt’s most incredible attractions is the house of power The Cairo citadel was constructed by Saladin in 1183 to become one of the most powerful fortresses during the Medieval Islamic era. The ever-lasting beautiful city of Cairo was inducted into the Unesco heritage sites in 1979.
2. Giza Pyramids Complex
Now, it’s no wonder that the three great pyramids were inducted into the Unesco heritage sites in 1979. They are the symbols of the ancient Egyptian civilization, located within the majestic pyramids complex in Giza with the sole guardian of Egypt the sphinx. The complex contains the Great Pyramid of Giza for pharaoh Khufu a.k.a Cheops (2589 BC-2566 BC), known for being one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as is the biggest man-made construction ever made in ancient history at the height of 146.5 m since more than 3.800 years in only 20 years to be the final resting place pharaoh Khufu. The pyramid of Khafre is the second tallest pyramid built in the 4th dynasty to hold the tomb of pharaoh Khafre (2558-2532 BC) who is known for constructing the sphinx, the world’s biggest and oldest statue after his own image. The pyramid of Menkaure (2532 BC- 2500 BC) is the smallest of the three pyramids that were built in 2510 BC. Just 20 km south of Giza lies Egypt’s first capital Memphis (2686-2181 BC) which was the center of power, culture, religion, and art from the ancient Egyptian civilization in the old kingdom (2686- 2181 BC) and lost its stature in the new kingdom (1570-1050 BC) after the capital was moved to the city of Thebes.
Memphis was the witness to the glory of the old kingdom and the construction of more than 100 pyramids including the great three. It contains some of the oldest pyramids in the history of Egypt mostly from the old kingdom until the end of the 13th dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. the city name was originally Men-Nefer meaning enduring and beautiful then was changed to Memphis by the greek. The city became the heart for the religious life of ancient Egypt as it was the home of the temple of the holy triad of the creator god Ptah, his wife Sekhmet, and their son Nefertem. There were also other temples for deities like Aton, Hathor, and many more. Everything started in the Dahshur area the home of the red Pyramid, it is a royal Necropolis in the desert 40 km (25 mi) south of Cairo on the west bank of Egypt.
3. Aswan, Abu Simbel and Philae
The city of Aswan has been always known to be the place of power and miracles. It acted as the southern border frontier to Egypt and the gateway to the heart of Africa. The city contains some of the most hypnotic monument s in history like the miraculous Abu Simbel which was built by Ramsess II between 1244 and 1224 BC to immortalize his great victory in the battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC and his long legacy. The Abu Simbel Temples are the personification of the glory of the new kingdom of ancient Egypt, it is on the west bank of the Nile, 230 km(140mi) southwest of Aswan on the western bank of Lake Nasser where it was carved on the face of a rocky mountain. Ramsess also honors the gods like Amun, Ptah, Re-Hor-Akhty to order to his good fortune and graces in the mortal and the immortal life. The temple was celebrated at the sun festival when the sun enters the Abu Simbel and illuminates the face of the four statues of Ramsess II, Ptah (God of creation), Amun (The Creator God), and Ra (Sun God) on the 22 of February and October. The temples were in danger by the rising waters of the Aswan high dam. The temple was saved by UNESCO in the 60s in the most challenging archeological rescuing operation in history which took four years from 1964 to 1968 and in 1979 was inducted in the UNESCO heritage sites.
One of the most beautiful constructions is the Philae temple which was constructed between 380-362 BC by king Ptolemy II and many other kings from the Ptolemaic Era on a rocky island known for being a trade center in the middle of the river Nile south of Aswan, known as “Apo” that means Ivory and also by the Greek name “Elephantine”. The temple was the house of worship for “Isis” the goddess of Motherhood, healing, and birth. The temple was relocated by Unesco as a part of a rescue operation in the 60s.
The majestic city of Thebes is known today as Luxor was one of the few cities that had the honor of serving as the capital of Egypt during the new kingdom (1570-1069 BCE) from the 11th to the 18th dynasty. it is located east of the Nile River about 500 mi (800 KM) and 419 mi (675 km) south of modern Cairo. The city was acted as the seat of the rule and the center of religious activities and a cultural center. Thebes was able to charm many travelers with its allure and grandeur for a countless generation as the greek poet homer called it the city with a thousand gates and The city’s name is derived from the Greek word “Thebai“. It was known as the city of Amon because it contained the worship house of the God Awn and the main location for many festivals like the famous festival of Shemu & Opet. After the city was freed from the Hyksos between (1530-1520 BC) and many pharaohs constructed many monuments all across it to showcases the enchanting glory of Thebes and immortalize their names and legacy in History.
The city is holding a number of monuments for each pharaoh from the 18th dynasty in the new kingdom who worked tirelessly to establish a great powerful kingdom whose name will last forever. The holy Karnak temple is probably the most famous temple in the history of ancient Egypt, it was constructed by Amenhotep III (1353-1279 BC) as a worship center for many deities mainly the holy triad of the creator god Amun-re, the goddess of balance and truth Mut and the moon god Khnosu. In the heart of Luxor’s mountains lies the royal Valley of the Kings which holds the tombs of more than 60 kings of the new kingdom while the valley of the queens was the home of the wives of the pharaohs. Thebes contains the valley of the nobles that were constructed for 500 individuals who worked as governors or tax collectors or a form of nobility. Amenhotep III was also responsible for the construction of the Luxor Temple the centerpiece of the Opet festival that was dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship, the Luxor also saw the crowning of many kings like Alexander the Great. At the entrance of Luxor lies two massive statues of Amenhotep III guarding the entire city. Thebes holds the beautiful temple of Hatshepsut which is a great example of the brilliant architecture of the new kingdom. The city of Thebes was inducted into the Unesco heritage cities in 1979.
5. Wadi Al Hitan
One of the most uncommon pieces of information about Egypt is that it is the home to hundreds of fossils of Archaeoceti (an extinct sub-order of whales) which helped provide an explanation of the Evolution of whales. The fossils are located at Wadi Al-Hitan (whale Valley) which is in Faiyum governorate 150 km south of Cairo. The site was able to offer evidence and explanations on how the evolution of whales. The place is truly highly important as it holds many fossils in the best possible condition of other animals like sharks, crocodiles, and rays which makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of that time period and track their evolution. The site became part of the UNESCO world heritage sites in July 2005.
6. Saint Catherine Area
Saint Catherine area has always been one of Egypt’s holiest places as it is one of the oldest function Christian monasteries in the world. The monastery is located on the summit of Mount Horeb where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The city is located near the el Tur Mountains at an elevation of 1,586 Meters above sea level. The famous Monastery of Saint Catherine was built by the order of Sinia during 527 between 565 BCE on the top of Mount Sinai. It houses some of the most enchanting artifacts, icons, and documents from the Byzantine and Roman periods. The monastery was inducted into the UNESCO world heritage site in 2002.
7. Abu Mena
The Abu Mena was also a monetary complex and a Christian pilgrimage center around the late 3rd century AD. It is about 50 km (31 mi) southwest of Alexandria. Most of the original structure has disappeared over time and there are very few standing remains, most major buildings like the great basilica are still visible. The monastery was inducted as a world heritage site in 1979 and was added to the list of endangered world heritage in 2001.
Explore Best Of Egypt
Egypt has always known for being the embodiment of heritage and greatness so don’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore all the magical destinations from above and more with our Egypt Classic trips. Listen to the true calling of beauty and travel to the land of wonders.