Egypt’s past is deeply woven into its everyday present. The blend of old and new is captivating in every sense. Urban spaces and vast natural wonders are waiting to be explored and create unforgettable sights and experiences.
Cairo is a city overflowing. Overflowing with its estimated 22 million inhabitants, their chaotic noise and traffic, but also overflowing with a fantastic combination of cultures and histories. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the extreme epic scale of the city and its dramatic urban buzz but take your time, relax and soak it all up. Grab a mint tea in a café, explore the art deco neighbourhoods and sample some local food to get a taste of local life before joining the other tourists in their dive into Cairo’s captivating history.
Your first stop should be the iconic Pyramids of Giza. Built as enormous tombs under the rule of pharaohs, the pyramids were constructed in the ancient world. The pyramids are one of the most photographed wonders of the world. Tens of thousands of workers built the pyramids and they still stand today in all their glory as a sign of ancient Eygpt’s strength. Still today, debates continue over whether the ancient Egyptians were capable of such structures, with some theorists suggesting they must be the work of aliens. Getting a guide to explore the vast pyramids is worthwhile, as their knowledge will provide you with an interesting insight into each pyramids and burial site. Don’t be scared off by the crowds, and the seemingly incessant tourist guides and companies attempting to offer you cheap packages. The aura of the Pyramids of Giza will you still completely blow you away and transport you back to ancient times.
Another top sight in Cairo is the Egyptian Museum with its vast exhibition exploring the country’s rich past. More than 100,000 objects are squeezed into the museum to create a riot on the brain as you try to soak up all the information. There are tombs, palettes, artefacts, statues and furniture from the ancient Egyptians all helping to narrate their interesting past. Once you’ve delved into the historical past of Cairo, head out into the city to see some of its present. Khan al-Khalili, the colourful city market is a good place to start. The space is set out like an ancient style mall, with shops and stalls arranged around small courtyards. Anything and everything is sold here so take your time wandering and exploring.
Another look into the architectural culture of Cairo can be found by seeing some of the stunning Mosques spread out throughout the city. One option is the Al-Azhar Mosque, located in Fatimid city. The mosque is really striking and enormous and one of the earliest mosques of the city. The Muhammed Ali Mosque is also worth a visit with masses of domes built within the citadel.
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Located on the east bank of the River Nile, Luxor is the site of ancient Thebes, once Egypt’s capital. The city is full of culture and history and a beautiful space to explore with grand monuments surviving from ancient Thebes. Luxor is a true tourist’s haven.
The Luxor Temple stands in the heart of the town gracefully, a striking reminder of the past of this now modern city. The beautiful columns are illuminated in the low sun later on in the day, visiting at this time will avoid the crowds and the blazing heat. Another beautiful temple in Luxor is Karnak, the most important place of worship in Egypt during the New Kingdom. It contains a whopping 10 cathedrals and is made up of sanctuaries, pylons and temples to the gods.
Valley of the Kings
On the west bank of the city is the Valley of the Kings, home to 63 magnificent tombs from pharaohs of the New Kingdom period. Most of the tombs are open to visitors, with some being closed in rotation for preservation purposes. To reach the Valley of the Kings, the road makes for a hot climb so be prepared. Cooler opportunities to learn about the history of Luxor is by visiting one of its fantastic museums. The Mummification Museum explores the techniques and beliefs of death and the afterlife through a showcase of different materials. Or, the Luxor Museum displays a more general collection of statues and goods from the temples of the past.
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After a hot exploration of the country, how about a cool dip? The world-famous Blue Hole, is a top dive site located in Dahab. Blue Hole is a huge sinkhole that drops down to up to 130m. Various options are available to experience the dive site, for the veterans and the beginners. The sinkhole is at the top of many experienced divers’ buckets lists, but if you aren’t feeling brave enough to leap into the unknown then the marine life nearer the surface is just as exciting.