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The Great Pyramids of Giza
There are three major pyramids in the pyramids necropolis in Giza. If you do not fear small spaces, take the opportunity to step inside the small cavity of the Great Pyramid (for a negotiable tip or fee) to experience the pyramid’s rather daunting descending staircase as well as the king’s and queen’s respective burial chambers. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is believed to have been built over a twenty-year period and completed around the year 2560 B.C. For centuries, the Pyramid held the record as the tallest man-made structure in the world. Besides the many theories and symbolism that it embodies, the Pyramid is one of the most breathtaking monuments of Ancient Egypt; take a trip to gaze at its peak and see for yourself. Although not as magnificently large as the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafra has a more complex interior and a large number of statues dedicated to Khafra, son of Khufu, including the Sphinx. The smallest of the three, the Pyramid of Menkara rarely gets the same attention as its two larger neighbours; as it lacks the size of Khufu and the Sphinx of Khafra. Menkara’s one advantage may be its material: the two predecessors used limestone, whereas Menkara used the more valuable and pricier granite in his burial chambers.
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Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings is without question one of the most historically significant archaeological sites in the world. For roughly 200 years, archaeologists have been exploring the site, and during this time they have discovered 65 ancient tombs, with the latest discovery being made in 2008. The valley is essentially a royal necropolis that was used by the rulers of Egypt for a period of 500 years. Being a “royal necropolis” the area was reserved for the burial of Egypt’s New Kingdom pharaohs and a few lesser nobles. However, not all the tombs were actually used for burial purposes. Instead, several of them simply remained vacant. The Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt’s biggest tourist attractions, with an average of around 5,000 people visiting the site each day. On days when Nile River cruise ships dock in Luxor, the number of tourists can climb to as many as 9,000. It is without doubt one of the most fascinating places in all of Egypt.
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Khan El Khalili
There’s absolutely nothing in Cairo like exploring the enormous shopping labyrinth of Khan El Khalili, the city’s largest souk that has preserved much of its original structure since its days as a famous medieval bazaar. Tourists and Egyptians alike arrive at this densely populated maze of streets and alleyways to find all sorts of gifts, including Egyptian antiques, fine handmade crafts, shishas and spices.
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Mini Egypt Park
A miniature park is an open space that displays miniature buildings and models. Mini Egypt Park offers a totally different experience compared to a traditional museum.
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City of the Dead
Even Cairo, a bustling capital city of 21 million or so people, has its secrets and obscurities, not least the City of the Dead. Located below Mokattam Hills in the south east of the city, the area is essentially a necropolis; but over the centuries it has evolved into a living, breathing organism of its own that has managed to reach a certain degree of self-sufficiency. Though considered a slum – and it’d be hard to argue that – it also stands as one monument to Cairo’s colourful history. Running along the city from north to south, the strip is around 6.4km long. The City of the Dead dates back to the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 642 AD, when Amr Ibn Al ‘as established a family graveyard at the foot of Mokattam. Many of the residents are said to have moved there to be close to deceased relatives. It has been something of a touristic site for centuries, with the likes of Moroccan scholar, Ibn Batuta –widely considered to be one of the greatest travelers in history – having visited and written about it.
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Valley of the Queens
The Valley of the Queens, like the nearby Valley of Kings, is also an ancient royal necropolis where the wives of the great pharaohs were laid to rest from 1550 to 1070 BCE. During the time of the New Kingdom pharaohs, the area was called Ta-Set-Neferu which means “The Place of the Children of the Pharaoh”. Although the name Valley of the Queens tends to suggest that only queens were laid to rest here, the area was also used for the burials of princes; princesses and other family members of the nobility. The necropolis is located on the West Bank of the Nile, more or less directly opposite the ancient capital city of Thebes, which today is the modern city of Luxor. The Valley of the Queens is home to around 70 tombs, many of which are exquisitely decorated. A prime example would be the tomb of Queen Nefetari from the 19th dynasty. Her tomb is adorned with splendid polochrome reliefs which have remained intact through the ages and can still be appreciated to this day. Tourists that are intending visiting the site should keep in mind that only a limited number of tombs are open to visitors. The beautiful tomb of Queen Nefetari is not open, but special permission can be obtained from the Commercial and Event Office in Luxor for a fee. The tomb belonging to the wife of King Ramesses II is strictly off-limits altogether. This is considered to be the most beautiful tomb discovered, but because of its fragile condition, officials feel that heavy tourist traffic could cause irreparable damage.
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Anfushi Fish Market
In a coastal city like Alexandria, serving as the largest seaport in Egypt, it is only normal to expect to find a bustling fish market.
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Ras Mohammad National Park
A lot of people, and me among them, believe that Ras Mohamed does not belong to this world with its extraordinary environment and its unique location. The air here is cleaner and even smells different than any other place of Egypt.
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Cairo Citadel
As familiar and known a sight as that of the Giza Pyramids, the medieval Citadel sits conspicuously over the haze of Cairo’s minarets, with the Mohammed Ali mosque glimmering like a beacon to all travellers, visitors and Cairenes alike. The gentle breeze from the hilltop location brings to mind a legend about Saladin, the builder of this medieval fortress in the 12th century. In the search to build a proper fortress against the Crusaders, he hung pieces of meat throughout Cairo and swore that wherever the meat stayed fresh the longest would become the location of his fortress. All the meat he placed was ruined in a day except for the meat hung on a hilltop near Cairo, where the fresh breeze kept the meat fresh for days. Who knows? Maybe he built the Citadel on a hill because in his native mountainous Syria most fortresses were built in strategic high locations, or maybe fresh meat was a big deal to Saladin. The Citadel is a popular destination for tour groups and local school field trips. While most tourists are taken to the Hagia Sophia inspired Mohammed Ali mosque, they might miss the great sites that lie nearby, marking massacres, harem palaces, spiral wells, royal court drama, crime, and ancient Egyptian ruins.
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Banana Island
There is a island in the city of asyut Banana Island, which is a nice place to relax.
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Hurghada Grand Aquarium
The 10 million liter Grand Aquarium Hurghada tank, is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. It is home to thousands of aquatic animals, including 400 sharks and rays. It also boasts the largest collection of sand tiger sharks in the world.
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