Places To Visit in Egypt
Egypt, a country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East, dates to the time of the pharaohs. Millennia-old monuments sit along the fertile Nile River Valley, including Giza's colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx as well as Luxor's hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs. The capital, Cairo, is home to Ottoman landmarks like Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities.Popular destinations are Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Giza, Alexandria, Hurghada, Siwa Oasis and Lake Nasser.
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Cairo, Egypt’s sprawling capital, is set on the Nile River. At its heart is Tahrir Square and the vast Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities including royal mummies and gilded King Tutankhamun artifacts. Nearby, Giza is the site of the iconic pyramids and Great Sphinx, dating to the 26th century BC. In Gezira Island’s leafy Zamalek district, 187m Cairo Tower affords panoramic city views.
On a hilltop above the city is the medieval Citadel fortress, site of Muhammad Ali Mosque, an Ottoman landmark. It overlooks the Islamic Cairo neighborhood, whose zigzagging streets feature significant architecture like the 10th-century Al-Azhar Mosque and massive Bab Zuweila gate. It’s also home to the buzzing Khan el-Khalili bazaar and the Museum of Islamic Art. Highlights of the Coptic Cairo area include the Roman-era Fortress of Babylon, Hanging Church and Coptic Museum, which displays antiquities of Christian Egypt. After dark, social life thrives in countless ahwas, or coffeehouses.
Luxor is a city on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt. It's on the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power, during the 16th–11th centuries B.C. Today's city surrounds 2 huge, surviving ancient monuments: graceful Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, a mile north. The royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens are on the river’s west bank.
Both east-bank temples have preserved statues, columns, obelisks and hieroglyphics, plus sound-and-light shows at night. The west-bank necropolis includes the tombs of Tutankhamun and Ramses III, which is adorned with colorful 2000-year-old reliefs. The Luxor Museum displays artifacts recovered from many of the tombs, while the Mummification Museum sheds lights on mummification techniques. The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is backed by towering cliffs. Many of the modern hotels and restaurants in Luxor overlook the water. Traditional felucca sailing boats, cruise ships and hot-air balloons provide trips on or above the river.
Aswan, a city on the Nile River, has been southern Egypt’s strategic and commercial gateway since antiquity. It contains significant archaeological sites like the Philae temple complex, on Agilkia Island near the landmark Aswan Dam. Philae’s ruins include the columned Temple of Isis, dating to the 4th century B.C. Downriver, Elephantine Island holds the Temple of Khnum, from the Third Dynasty.
On the Nile’s east bank lies the Unfinished Obelisk, a massive, 42m-long monument that remains in its quarry. It’s a reminder of the city’s heyday supplying granite for Ancient Egypt’s pyramids, temples and statues. The Nubia Museum traces the region’s native culture from prehistory to modern times. Elsewhere, Sharia al-Souk is a bustling marketplace known for local crafts. On the Nile’s unpopulated west bank, the Qubbet el-Hawa are cliffside tombs decorated with hieroglyphics. Abu Simbel, site of 2 13th-century B.C. temples of Ramses II, is a popular day trip to the south.
Giza, is the third-largest city in Egypt. It is located on the west bank of the Nile, 5 km southwest of central Cairo. Along with Cairo Governorate, Shubra El-Kheima, Helwan, 6th October City and Obour, the five form Greater Cairo metropolis. The city of Giza is the capital of the Giza Governorate, and is located near the northeast border of this governorate in coordinates. It is located right on the banks of the River Nile. The city's population was 2,681,863 in the 2006 national census, while the governorate had 6,272,571 at the same census. Its large population made it the world's second largest suburb in 2006, tied with Incheon, South Korea and Quezon City, Philippines, second only to Yokohama, Japan. Giza is most famous as the location of the Giza Plateau: the site of some of the most impressive ancient monuments in the world, including a complex of ancient Egyptian royal mortuary and sacred structures, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and a number of other large pyramids and temples. Giza has always been a focal point in Egypt's history due to its location close to Memphis, the ancient capital.
Alexandria is a Mediterranean port city in Egypt. During the Hellenistic period, it was home to a lighthouse ranking among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as well as a storied library. Today the library is reincarnated in the disc-shaped, ultramodern Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The city also has Greco-Roman landmarks, old-world cafes and sandy beaches. Its 15th-century seafront Qaitbay Citadel is now a museum.
Though the original library and lighthouse are long gone, ruins dating to antiquity still dot Alexandria, including the Roman amphitheater of Kom el Dikka, the 20m-tall granite Pompey’s Pillar and the Kom el Shoqafa catacombs. Finds from these sites are displayed in the Alexandria National Museum, which recounts the city’s founding by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. Much of Alexandria’s coastline is bordered by the popular Corniche promenade, which ends at Montaza Palace, a complex featuring a 1932 royal residence, public gardens and beach access.
Hurghada is a beach resort town stretching some 40km along Egypt’s Red Sea coast. It’s renowned for scuba diving, and has numerous dive shops and schools in its modern Sekalla district. There are many restaurants, bars and nightclubs, while the old town, El Dahar, is home to traditional Egyptian coffee shops and souks. Hurghada’s long stretch of sandy beach is lined with resort hotels.
Windsurfing and sailing are popular, as are trips in glass-bottomed boats and submarines. Renowned local diving sites include Giftun Island, a national park with coral reefs, turtles and stingrays. Umm Qamar has a steep wall, caves and moray eels, while Gota Abu Ramada is nicknamed “the aquarium” for its colorful fish. There are shipwrecks to explore at Abu Nuhas reef. Offshore sites can be reached by day trip and liveaboard boats from the Sekalla marina.
The Siwa Oasis is an oasis in Egypt, between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Western Desert, nearly 50 km east of the Libyan border, and 560 km from Cairo. About 80 km in length and 20 km wide, Siwa Oasis is one of Egypt's most isolated settlements, with 23,000 people, mostly Berbers who developed a unique culture and a distinct language of the Berber family called Siwi. Its fame lies primarily in its ancient role as the home to an oracle of Ammon, the ruins of which are a popular tourist attraction which gave the oasis its ancient name Ammonium
Lake Nasser is a vast reservoir in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. It is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Before construction, Sudan was against the building of Lake Nasser because it would encroach on land in the North, where the Nubian people lived. They would have to be resettled. In the end Sudan's land near the area of Lake Nasser was mostly flooded by the lake. Strictly, "Lake Nasser" refers only to the much larger portion of the lake that is in Egyptian territory, with the Sudanese preferring to call their smaller body of water Lake Nubia.