Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cairo - Giza

The Giza Pyramid complex is home to the world famous Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx and Chephren's valley temple.

Pyramid of Cheops: Once all the pyramids had smooth sides of polished stone, but the casing on the pyramid of Cheops has entirely gone and you see instead the underlying tiered courses of 2,500,000 limestone blocks.

Pyramid of Chephren: Chephren's Pyramid is almost as large as Cheops'. It has intact casing stones towards the top.

Pyramid of Mycerenius: At 66.5 M in height, this is the smallest of the three main pyramids. A 9th century caliph attempted to demolish the pyramids altogether, starting with that of Mycerenius. eight months and 170,000 blocks of stone later, he gave up, leaving a gouge you can see on the north face.

The Sphinx: A limestone outcrop was left standing in the quarry from which many of the blocks for Cheops were cut. His son Chephron had the idea of shaping it into a figure with a lions body and a god's face.

Valley Temple of Chephron: By the south flank of the Sphinx, Chephren's valley temple has been well preserved by its long burial under the sands. Majestically and simply assembled from pink Aswan granite, its square monolithic pillars support massive architraves.

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Cairo - Saqqara

Saqqara is on the desert plateau above Memphis and contains a complex of Pyramids and Mastabas, including the famous Step Pyramid of Zoser. The sands wash your feet nearly everywhere in Saqqara, which has a much more desert feel than Giza. Named for Soqqar, the Memphite god of the dead, this was a necropolis for over 3000 years, though most of its greatest monuments belong to the Old Kingdom.

Mastaba of Akhti-Hotep and Ptah-Hotep: Belonging to the priest Ptah-Hotep and his father, the vizier Akhti-Hotep, this Fifth Dynasty double mastabe is outstanding for the variety and quality of its colored reliefs.

Mastaba of Mereruka: Mereruka was vizir to a Sixth-Dynasty pharaoh and his 32-room mastabe is the largest at Saqqara.

Mastaba of Ti: The reliefs in Ti's beautifully decorated funerary chamber rival those of Ptah-Hotep's, and exceed them in variety. the highlight here is a relief of Ti sailing through the marshes.

Pyramid of Unas: Unas was the last pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty and the 350 years from the Step Pyramid through the Great Pyramids at Giza to this heap of rubble mark the rise and fall of the Old Kingdom sun cult. The tomb chamber is entirely covered with inscriptions celebrating eternal life and the newly-popular resurrection cult of Oris.

The Serapeum: The Serapeum, where the Apis bulls were buried, is the strangest place at Saqqara. Long, gloomily-lit, rock-cut galleries beneath the desert are lined with gigantic vaults, each vault containing a bull sized black sarcophagus.

Step Pyramid of Zoser: The Step Pyramid is the central piece of an extensive funerary complex built for the Third Dynasty pharaoh Zoser, who lived around 2700 BC. Surrounded by an enclosure wall probably built in imitation of the city walls of Memphis, the first pyramid, 62m high, was created by placing a series of ever smaller mastabas one on top of the other.

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Cairo - Dhahshur

Just about 1/2 hour from Saqqara, lie the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid of Dhahsur. Both were built by a 4th dynasty pharaoh, together with another collapsed pyramid.

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Cairo - Memphis

Most probably beginning as a fortress from which Menes controlled the land and water routes between the upper and lower Egypt, Memphis was the capitol of the country throughout the Old Kingdom. Though New Kingdom Egypt was ruled from Thebes, Memphis remained agreat metropolis until taken over by Ptolemaic Alexandria. Today, however, centuries of Nile mud has swallowed Memphis entirely.

A Museum has been built to display the Collosus of Memnon and other sculptures found here.

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Cairo - Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum is the most famous museum in Egypt and is home to the grandest collection of ancient Egyptian treasures. The arrangement is more or less chronological, so that starting at the entrance and walking clockwise along the ground floor you pass from Old kingdom through Middle kingdom and New kingdom exhibits (the highlight on this floor is the Akhenaton room at the rear), concluding with Ptolemaic and Roman exhibits.

The first floor contains prehistoric and early dynastic exhibits and the contents of several tombs, most notably the magnificient array of wealth from Tutankhamun's.

In the Mummy Room lie the bodies of such great pharaohs as Ramses II and Seti I.

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Location: (Click on map to enlarge)

Cairo - Mohmmad Ali Mosque

A Turkish delight on the Cairo skyline, the mosque was built in imitation of the Ottoman imperial mosques of Istanbul. Half domes rise as buttresses for the high central dome, while two thin minarets add an ethereal touch. Mohamad Ali's tomb is on the right as you enter the vast and opulently decorated interior.

Entrance Fees: Not applicable

Cairo - Khan El Khalili

Though not strictly an archeological site, Khan-el-Khalili has been the heartbeat of Cairo since the medieval times. The wealth of Cairo was built on trade, and caravans from all over Africa and Asia disgorged their cargoes for sale at the numerous bazaars that make up Khan-El-Khalili. Much of that medieval atmosphere still survives among the narrow covered passageways where you can join throngs of Cairenes to bargain over spices and perfume oils, gold and silver jewellery, leather goods and fabrics.

Entrance Fees: Not Applicable

Aswan - Temple of Hathor

Located on the east side of the island of Philae, this temple was builtduring the Ptolemaic period but decorated under Augustus with amusing carvings of music and drinking, for Hathor was a symbol of fertility whose worship was often accompanied by merry-making. The Greeks identified him with Aphrodite, the goddess of Love.

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Aswan - Temple of Isis

Located on the island of Philae, two great pylons lead into the temple proper. They are carved with the traditional scenes of the Ptolemaic kings, attacking the enemy of the first Pylon, on the second pylon making offerings to Isis, Horus and Hathor. The walls of the pronaos are likewise covered with scenes of the Ptolemaic kings and Roman emperors in pharonic guise, performing the customary ceremonies. Later when this became a church, early christians added their crosses to the stones.

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Aswan - Kiosk of Trajan

On the south side of the Philae island stands this handsome but unfinished building, with 14 great columns bearing beautifully carved floral capitals. Reliefs show Trajan offering incense and wine to Isis, Orisis and Horus. the elegance of the kiosk has made it the characteristic symbol of Philae.

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Aswan - Unfinished Obelisk

The favored pink granite found in ancient monuments throughout Egypt and even beyond came from Aswan, much of it from the quarry where you can still see an unfinished obelisk rooted to the bedrock. The work was undertaken during the New Kingdom, and had it been completed, it would have been the largest piece of stone handled in history. Work stopped after a flaw was discoverd in the stone.

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Aswan - Elephantine Island

In ancient times the area on the east bank of the Nile, where Aswan now stands, was known as Syene and was famous for the nearby quarries of pink granite. yet it was always secondary to the main commercial and administrative settlement of Yebu, at the southern end of the Elephantine Island. yebu was egyptian for elephant; while Elephantine was the later Greek name, reflecting its important ivory trade.

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Aswan - Abu Simbel

Two temples stare out from the cliff face at Abu Simbel. On the left is the temple of Re-Herakhte with its colossi of Ramses II, and on the right the smaller temple of Hathor, associated with ramses's queen, Nefertari. Before the creation of Lake Nasser, the temples overlooked a bend in the Nile and dominated the landscape. As impressive statements of Egyptian might, they served as a warning to any troublesome Nubians, while offering a welcome to peaceful traders arriving out of Africa.

Temple of Hathor, one of the two temples of Abu Simbel, is in the form of a buttresses pylon. Between the buttresses are six colossal statues of ramses and Nefertari. Heads of Hathor adorn the columns of the hyostyle hall inside. On the entrance wall are reliefs of ramses slaying his enemies nd a very graceful Nefertari with her arms upraised in prayer. Beyond tis is the sanctuary with Hathor, as the divine cow, emerging from the rock wall. This and the facade suggest the overall symbolism of the temple, which complements that of Re-Harakhte's.

Temple of Re-Herakhte is the other of the two temples of Abu Simbel. Arranged in pairs on either side of the entrance are the four enthroned, 20 m high Colossi of Memnon at the Thebes, wearing the double crown of upper and lower Egypt. Osiris-type figures of Ramses stand against the piers of the hypostyle hall within. the battle of Kadesh, in which the Egyptians were nearly defeated by the Hitties, is depicted on the left, and Ramses is shown appealing to Amun. On the right, a triumphant Ramses is shown storming a Syrian fortress and capturing Hitties. In the next hall of four pillars Ramses and Nefertari are shown before the boats of Amun and Re-Herakhte. Beyond is the sanctuary, where a divinized Ramses sits with Ptah, Amun and Re-Herakhte. The temple progressively depicts Ramses, therefore, as a conqueror, hero and then God.

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Aswan - Aswan Museum

The displays here are all local finds, including jewellery, bronze mirrors, slate palettes for cosmetics and the statues of Yebu's governers. there is also a mummified ram with a sarcophagus, and a golden bust of Khnum, for the island was home to this ram headed God.

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Aswan - High Dam

Though not an archeological site, this dam is a modern wonder of Egypt on the Nile. As the population continued to grow, the old dam could no longer meet Egypt's need for more cultivable land and increases demands of electricity. With Soviet collaboration, work began on the high dam in the mid-1960s and was completed in 1971. Seventeen times as much material went into its construction as was used to build the great pyramid of Cheops, and enough metal to build 17 Eiffel towers. A huge artificial lake, Lake Nasser, reaches back 550 km to Sudan.

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Luxor - Karnak Temple

The Karnak site covers a huge area. The precinct of Amun in fact encloses several temples, but most people will be content to walk through the biggest of these, the Temple of Amun, whose Hypostyle Hall alone is large enough to contain both St Paul's Cathedral in London and St Peter's Church in Rome.

One dynasty after another added to the Temple of Amun, so that during its founding during the Middle Kingdom to the building of its outermost or First Pylon during the 25th Dynasty, 1300 years elapsed. The Asian conquests of Tuthmosis III and Ramses II brought New Kingdom Egypt to the peak of power and prosperity. The great God Amun also received his share, so that his temple soon controlled perhaps as much as a fifth of Egypt's workforce and nearly a third of its land.

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Luxor - Luxor Temple

Unlike Karnak, which was built over a long period of time, the temple of Luxor is largely the work of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenophis III. With him began the fashion of gigantism. It was Ramses II, however, who later built the entrance pylons and the great court beyond. In front of the pylons he placed six collosal statue of himself, only three of which remain. Of the two obelisks he erected here, one was given to the french by Mohammed Ali. Numerous colossi of Ramses stand around the great court, his wife Nefertari knee-high at his side. Returning back through the temple and emerging again at the pylons, you notice the avenue of sphinxes that once led all the way to Karnak.

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Luxor - Valley of Kings

The Valley of Kings contains 62 tombs, almost all belonging to the pharaohs of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties (1570 - 1090 BC). The tombs were cut into the soft limestone by workmen living at Deir el Medina. Construction and decoration began as soon as a Pharaoh came to the throne and followed a similar pattern in all tombs. Three corridors lead to an antechamber giving on to a main hall with a sunken floor for receiving the sarcophagus.

Some of the important tombs are:

Tomb 2: Ramses IV (20th Dynasty) - The New Kingdom was already in decline when this tomb was cut. The patterns of the bright colors against an overall background of white,a nd the excellent lighting, contribute to a favorable impression. There is much Ptolemaic and Coptic graffiti throughout.

Tomb 9: Ramses VI (20th Dynasty) - This tomb originally ended after three corridors but was later extended to double its length. The coloring remains fresh throughout.

Tomb 17: Seti I (19th Dynasty) - At 100 m, the tomb of Seti I is the longest in the valley. Its reliefs are wonderfully preserved and beautifully executed.

Tomb 62: Tutankhamun (18th Dynasty) - This is the only tomb in the Valley of kings that was found with its contents intact. Owing to the Pharaoh's eraly death at 19 ( he had ascended to the throne at the age of 12), the tomb is small and was hurriedly decorated. Its treasures have been moved to Cairo. All that remains now is the open sarcophagus. Within it lies the outermost of the three gold sarcophagi, and, unseen within that, the mummy of Tutankhamun himself.

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Luxor - Valley of Queens

This valley contains over 70 tombs of queens, princes and princesses of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties, though only 4 are open.

Tomb 66: Queen Nefertari (19th Dynasty) - Nefertari was the wife of Ramses II and is celebrated in stone at Abu Simbel and elsewhere. Her tomb, long closed owing to damage caused by salt deposits, has been marvelously restored and recently reopened. It is by far the finest in the valley, the wall painting exquisitely drawn and vividly colored.

Tomb 55: Prince Amun-Her-Khopshef (20th Dynasty) - The paintings throughout this tomb are fresh and finely executed. At the center of the burial chamber there is a sarcophagus in human, or rather mummy form. The skeleton of a six month ld phoetus are displayed in a glass case.

Tomb 44: Prince Khaemweset (20th Dynasty) - Belonging to another son of Ramses III who fell victim to smallpox, the decorations of this tomb are similar to Tomb 55.

Tomb 52: Queen Titi (20th Dynasty) - The tomb is arranged like a cross, a corridor leading to a central chamber off which are three smaler chambers, left, right and ahead.

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Luxor - Hatshepsut's Temple

Hatshepsut's father, the 18th-Dynasty pharaoh Tuthmosis I, was the first to seek greater security for his mummified body by having a tomb dug in the Valley of Kings. Hatshepsut followed his example, but before and ever after her burial the appropriate ceremonies were to be held at her mortuary temple. Early Christians later used it as a monastery, which is why it is often known as Deir el Bahri, the Northern Monastery.

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Luxor - Colossi of Memnon

The mortuary temple of Amenophis III has vanished and all that remains are the two famous colossi which once guarded its outer gates. they are, in fact, gigantic statues of the enthroned Amenophis himself, 19.5 m high. At one time they wore the royal crown and were even higher. The one on the right (north) was shattered by an earthquake in 27 BC and later repaired.

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Luxor - Luxor Museum

The museum contains a small but carefully selected number of beautifully displayed exhibits. Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic artefacts are included, but the overwhelmomg emphasis is on the pharaonic period.

There are a few items from Tutankhamun's tomb, including a funerary bed, model boats and a golden cow's head. The other contents of the tomb are all in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. Reliefs of Akhenaton and Nefertiti worshipping Aton, and scenes of their palace life are also displayed.

Most outstanding, however, are the black basalt and pink granite statues and busts of jug-eared Sesostris III of the Twelfth Dynasty and of the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaos Tuthmosis III, Amenophis II and Amenophis III.The craftmanship is superb, and you can feel the sculptors' enjoyment of working with the graceful curves of crowns, necks and waists.

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Alexandria - Kom Elshuqafa

This largest Roman funerary complex in Egypt dates from the 2nd century AD. A winding staircase leads to an underground rotunda encircled by sarcophagi. Next to it is the banqueting hall where relatives of the deceased saw him out with a feast. At the level below is the central tomb chamber, decorated in a blend of classical and Egyptian styles. Inside stand dog headed Anubis and crocodile headed Sobek, both dressed as Roman centurions.

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Alexandria - Roman Amphitheatre

Every town in ancient Rome had an amphitheatre, which means, "double theatre". They were grand and impressive, shaped in a half circle, open to the sky, and might have held 100.000 people. The stage had no curtain; it was just a stone platform.

Imagine yourself in ancient Alexandria, in the Roman theatre on a hot afternoon. All you can smell is the Mediterranean mist; all you can see are wild beasts, driven in through the tall doorway, and the fighters coming in from all around the floor. Famous jockeys and gladiators are walking in, and then the excitement begins.

The Roman theatre is located in the modern area of Kom El-Dikaa, which is almost in the centre of the city of Alexandria, Egypt bordered by Horrya street from the north, Nabi Daniel street from the west, Abdel Moneim street from the south, and Saphia Zaghloul street from the east.

Dating from the 2nd century A.D it has a large auditorium, about 42m in diameter. The outer face of this building was probably adorned with columns located in several storey. In later times the theatre was rebuilt and its auditorium was diminished to 33.5 m in diameter. It then counted 16 rows of marble seats.

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Alexandria - Mosque of Abu-al-Abas

The domes and minarets of this ancient mosque lend a graceful touch to the skyline of the Eastern Harbor. It was built in 1943 over a 13th century tomb. Around it clusters the picturesque old quarter. Between it and the chroniche is the Bousiri Mosque, twinkling with lights at night.

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Alexandria - Almontazah Palace

Built in Turko-Florentine style at the turn of the century by the Khedive Abbas II, this was the summer residence of the royal family.

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Alexandria - Fort of Qait Bay

The present 15th century fort was built by Sultan Qaytbay on the site of, and partly from the fragments of, the six times taller Pharos lighthouse, which has been destroyed in a series of earthquakes. Dating from the reign of Ptolemt II Philadelphos and renowned as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Pharos could, by means of a mirror, direct a beam of reflected sunlight or the light of a fire far out to the sea.

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Alexandria - Graeco Roman Museum

This big museum fills the gap between the Egyptian Antiquities museum and the Coptic museum (both in Cairo). Its spacious and uncluttered rooms are arranged around a central garden, making it a pleasant place to linger.Many of the exhibits are from Alexandria and its vicinity; the rest are from other area of Greek settlement - the Delta, the Faiyum and the Middle Egypt.

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Entrance Fees (Regular/Student)

Egyptian Museum - LE 50/25, Royal Mummy Room-LE 100
Citadel - LE 40/20
Coptic Muséum - LE 35/20
Pyramid - LE 50/25
Entry to Great Pyramid - LE 100
Entry to 3rd Pyramid - LE 25/15
Zhoser’s Step Pyramid- LE 50/25
The open Museum- LE 30/15
The Bent and the red pyramid- LE 25/15
Catacombs – LE 25/15
Pompei Pillar– LE 15/10
Alexandria Library-LE 10
Montazh Palace- LE 4
Citadel-LE 20/10
Greco Roman Museum- LE 30/15
Greco Roman Theatre- LE 15/10
Bahariya Oasis-
Bagwat Tomb- LE 25/15
Bahariya Oasis- LE 35/20
Lake Nasser
Abo simble Temple- LE 80/40
El Seboa Temple- LE 35/20
Amada Temple- LE 35/20
Kalbsha Temple- LE 25/15
High Dam- LE 8
Philae Temple- LE 40/20
Unfinished obelisk- LE 25/15
Sohil Island- LE 20/10
Elephantine Island- LE 25/15
Botanical Island- LE 10
Aswan Museum- LE 25/15
LE 25/15

LE 40/20

LE 15/10

Valley of The Kings-LE 70/35 [3 tombs only]
Tomb of King Tutankhamen- LE 80/40 - when open
Deir Al-Bahri [Temple of Queen Hatshepsut] – LE 25/15
Valley of the Queens [excluding Tomb of Queen Nefertari] – LE 25/15
Tomb of Queen Nefertari - LE100 - when open
Luxor Temple - LE 40/20
Temples of Karnak – LE 50/25
Medina Habu [Temple of King Ramses III] - LE 25/15
Ramseum Temple- LE 25/15
Temple of Seti I - LE 25/15
Luxor Museum – LE 70/35
Mummification Museum – LE 40/20
LE 25/15

LE 25/15