Cairo is the port of entry for most travelers to Egypt. The
capital city has much to offer, but most tourists focus on the amazing
Egyptian Museum which has an unparalleled collection of Egyptian
antiquities, including a collection of mummies, the treasures of
Tutankhamen, and stunning artifacts from the Age of the Pharaohs. While you are in the city, you might be
interested in touring the
Citadel built by Saladin (12th century) and its splendid Mosque
of Mohammad Ali Pasha (19th century).
Giza, a suburb of Cairo, is forever linked with its famous Great Pyramid
of Cheops, as well as those of the pharaohs Khafre and Menakure, In
addition, you will find the famous Sphinx, a powerful and enigmatic figure,
as it guards the burial sites of Egypt's once beloved
pharaohs. For those seeking to make a day of it, there is also a sound
and light show during the evening, but the pyramids are the stars of the Giza
Plateau and, perhaps, all of Egypt. For more detailed information on
the pyramids of
Giza and lots of photos of what you will see during your visit, click for
our travel guide to
Located to the south of Giza, Saqqara is considered the largest and richest
necropolis site in Egypt and it is here that the design for the modern
pyramid was conceived. While not as large or impressive as the pyramids as
Giza, the Step Pyramid of Djoser, designed by Imhotep, was the first attempt
at building a new type of mausoleum for the pharaoh that would help to
prepare him for his trip through the Underworld to the Afterlife. The
success of the step pyramid was immediate and its construction quickly
evolved into the type of pyramid that we see at Giza.
Nearby are the famous Red and Bent pyramids. Click for our detailed
description and numerous photos of
Luxor, located on the Nile River far south of Cairo and once known as Thebes, is endowed with a unique richness of temples that reflect its
historic role as capital of
Upper and Lower
Egypt. Luxor Temple and the Karnak Temple
are located within the city of Luxor and close to the Nile.
Our Introduction to Luxor provides facts on Luxor and
its surrounding, as well as a short section on why this area has
more temples than any other area in Egypt. This section also includes
information on the layout of
these temples and other mortuary temples to help you understand how they were arranged and used,
as well as to help make sense of what you will see when you visit. Click for
our general introduction to
Luxor and its surrounding areas.
Luxor Temple sits
alongside the Corniche next to the east bank of the Nile River. The
Temple was lost to history when it was buried by sand and debris and
excavated only in the mid-19th century. Known for its obelisk, Colossi
of Ramesses II and Grand Colonnade, the temple has sections built by several
pharaohs and its setting is quite dramatic. Click
Luxor Temple for our photos and detailed description of this stately
Karnak Temple is the largest temple in Egypt and its
layout reflect a
site that was built, and then continuously changed over two thousand
years. It is known for its Avenue of the Sphinx, Grand Pylon
(entrance) and massive courtyards. Everywhere you look there are minor
temples dedicated to one god or another and if you wander long enough you
will find even older temples on the outskirts of the property. There
are a number of obelisks, as well as statues whose variety will amaze you, including a
granite statue celebrating a scarab. Each evening, near the ceremonial
lake, there is an evening sound a light show that is reputed to be quite good. For
a great collection of photos showing what you will see at Karnak as well as
a detailed description of its monuments, click
The Theban Necropolis, located across the Nile from Luxor
the West Bank, was known as the Valley of the Dead in Ancient Egypt.
The mortuary temples of the pharaohs who ruled from Luxor are located on
this side of the Nile and
there is a wide selection to explore. Among the best attraction are
The Valley of the Kings is considered by many as the
prime reason to visit Luxor. It is here that the pharaohs of the New
Kingdom chose to be buried in lavish underground chambers.
Approximately 60 tombs are in this area, although some are closed for
refurbishment or research. Although the Valley of the Kings houses the
famous tomb of Tutankhamen, his mortuary is one of the least interesting of
the tombs, since its treasures are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The tombs in the Valley of the Kings have interesting wall paintings and reliefs
that show gods, people and animals
helping the pharaoh on his way the Underworld and the Afterlife. Popular
tombs includes those of Seti 1, Ramesses VI and Ramesses IV and IX.
See our detailed section on the
Valley of the Kings for more information and a few photos. Note that
neither photography nor cameras are allowed in the Valley of the Kings.
The Temple of Hatshepsut, an Egyptian queen who dressed like a pharaoh and ruled Egypt for
decades, is located in Dier al-Bahari,
which is a short distance as the crow flies from the Valley of the Kings,
but quite distant by road. Hatshepsut's Temple has an unusual
design compared to the
other temples as it was built using a completely different plan. It is
quite lovely, but the scene you see today is a construction by modern craftsmen,
as the original buildings from Hatshepsut's Temple were destroyed by her son, who
believed that his mother had kept the throne at his expense. The tomb, however, is incredibly
popular with tourist and is a dramatic sight. See our detailed guide
Hatshepsut's Temple for more details and a photo gallery.
Medinet Habu is a large funerary complex built by Ramesses III.
The temple is entered through a once fortified gatehouse that leads to an
impressive Grand Pylon with numerous reliefs of the pharaoh and the gods.
The Courtyard and the Hypostyle Hall are very impressive, although much of
the temple was damaged by a severe earthquake. The reliefs are quite
interesting and focused on the pharaoh's martial
prowess and victories over his enemies. See our detailed guide to
for more details and a photo gallery.
The Colossi of Memnon are a common stop on the road to the Valley of the Kings or on the way to see Hatshepsut's
Temple. These two large seated statues of Amenhotep III once guarded
his mortuary temple, although the temple no longer exists. Time and
the elements have not been kind to the Colossi, but they remain a
Other Diversions in Luxor
One of the most popular side-attractions of a visit to Luxor is the
option to take a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Dead at dawn.
During the flight you will see the sunrise over the Nile and many of the
major tombs in the Theban Necropolis. See our section on the
balloon flights and a photo gallery of the sights you may see on these
While we are discussing diversions, Luxor is a great place to buy
Alabaster and you will find several
Alabaster "factories" on the West Bank.
Further Afield from Luxor
Dendera Temple is an attractive temple dedicated to the
goddess Hathor (the goddess of the sky). Although there were earlier
temples at this site, this temple is Greco-Roman rather than Pharaonic
(Egyptian). Dendara Temple is known for the quality of its reliefs
(including some of Cleopatra) and the beauty of the paintings that adorn the
temple. The hypostyle hall at Dendera is stunning, as this is one of the few locations where the
hall ceiling is intact, In addition, there is an upper level that was
used for other religious celebrations. According to early Egyptian mythology
once a year the statue of Hathor housed in the sanctuary at Dendera Temple was floated up the Nile to Edfu where
Hathor was reunited with her consort Horus, who resided in his statue at
Temple. See our page on
Dendera Temple for more details on this interesting temple.
Our guide to the Best Places to visit in Egypt is
continued on page II of this section, where we cover Nile River
Cruising, Aswan and its many treasures, Lake Nasser, Abu Simbel and other
interesting temples that can be visited on a Lake Nasser Cruise. We
have some incredible photo galleries of these locations on our detail pages
for these attractions that you won't want
Or, click our index at the top right of this page for a
direct link to the places to visit and topics that we cover in our Egypt
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