Egypt

Egypt Pyramid Age

Tracing the Rise and Fall of Egypt’s Pyramid Age

The ancient Egyptians built over a hundred pyramids, with over 30 of them belonging to pharaohs. But most people only know just three. And while one would think that the iconic 4th Dynasty pyramids at Giza were built near the end of Egyptian civilization, in fact the opposite is true. The rise of the Pyramid

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Medinet Habu Luxor

An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Temples

Built over the course of thousands of years in dedication to a diverse and complex pantheon, the ancient Egyptian temple is hard to pin down. But one thing remained constant: more than just elaborate stone constructions, the Egyptians always perceived their temples as something organic, or even alive. Thanks to their impeccable craftsmanship, many of

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Tomb of Mehu Saqqara Ancient Egyptian Tombs

An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Tombs

There are dozens of tombs to visit in Egypt, with countless more off-limits to the public. With their colorful artwork and interesting statues, ancient Egyptian tombs are a highlight for many visitors to the land of the pharaohs. But many can’t help but wonder: What do the scenes on the walls really mean? And why did

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White Desert Egypt

A Night in the White Desert

Egyptian civilization is responsible for many of the world’s greatest stone sculptures. But deep in the remote White Desert, some 500 km west of Cairo, stand hundreds of unique sculptures shaped by nature itself. Just nearby, meanwhile, are the aptly-named Black Desert and Crystal Mountain. Leaving my Cairo hotel just after six in the morning,

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Cairo Citadel

A Day in Islamic Cairo

No visit to Cairo is complete without a walk through Islamic Cairo, the medieval city established by the Fatimids in the 10th century. As you stroll down the district’s narrow alleyways, you’ll encounter monuments built over the course of 1,000 years. Meanwhile, all around you, local residents will be going about their daily lives. For

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Aswan Nubian Village Street Art

Street Art: Aswan

In many big cities throughout the world, public murals are seen as a way of beautifying the dull and gray concrete jungles. But in southern Egypt’s Aswan, the colorful murals mesh beautifully with the region’s natural surroundings. Street art, in fact, has long been a part of traditional Nubian culture. In the following guide to Aswan

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Top Things to Do in Aswan

Top 5 Things to Do in Aswan

Aswan’s main attractions might not be able to compete with those of Luxor or Cairo. But that’s not to say the city has little to see. While many use Aswan as a base from which to visit Abu Simbel, the friendly and laidback city is worth an extended stay. In addition to scenic boat rides,

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Elephantine Island Aswan

Elephantine & Seheil: Island Archaeology in Aswan

Within easy reach from central Aswan are two Nile River islands that Egyptian history lovers shouldn’t miss. Elephantine Island was always of special importance to Egyptian civilization, as it’s where the god Khnum was said to control the flow of the whole Nile. Today, the Elephantine Island archaeological site contains ruins spanning from the Old

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Philae Temple Aswan

The Island Temples of Philae & New Kalabsha

The region of Nubia was home to some of ancient Egypt’s most scenic temples. Philae, a Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Isis, is not just remarkable for its stunning island location, but also for its history. Philae Island, in fact, was the very last holdout of the ancient Egyptian religion. While Philae remains one of Aswan’s

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Abu Simbel Great Temple

The Amazing Rock-Cut Temples of Abu Simbel

During his 67-year reign, Ramesses II completed more construction projects than any other pharaoh in history. But the rock-cut Abu Simbel stands out from all the rest. One can’t help but feel tiny when standing in front of its massive facade, while the isolated location adds to its mystique. It was certainly an ambitious project

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Edfu Horus

Edfu & Kom Ombo: The Falcon & The Crocodile

The temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo, both dating back to the Ptolemaic period, are the two most popular landmarks in between Luxor and Aswan. They’re common stops on Nile River cruises, but I made the journey by road, visiting four destinations over the course of a long but rewarding day trip. (Learn more below).

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Esna Temple Egypt

Esna & El Kab: On the Road to Aswan

While Aswan is just a few hours from Luxor by rail, the land between the two cities is home to a myriad of ancient wonders. During my travels, I opted for the slow route, arranging for a driver to make several stops along the way. The first two stops of the journey were Esna and

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Dendera Temple Hypostyle Hall

Dendera: The Temple of Hathor

Widely regarded as one of Egypt’s most beautiful and best-preserved temples, Dendera Temple was established during the Greco-Roman era. But construction was taking place at the spot since at least the Old Kingdom. An inscription on site, meanwhile, states that the temple plans date from a far more ancient era when Egypt was ruled by

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Temple of Seti I Abydos

Abydos: The Abode of Osiris

Abydos is perhaps Egypt’s most ancient necropolis, having been used for important burials since Predynastic times. The city was a popular pilgrimage spot for thousands of years, and pharaohs from all eras of Egyptian history constructed tombs and temples here. In fact, it was believed to be the resting place of the Lord of the Underworld himself,

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Cairo Museum Amarna Art

Shadowing the Aten: Hunting for Amarna Art Across Egypt

Egyptian civilization persisted for thousands of years with its art and religion remaining largely unchanged. That is, except for one brief 17-year period in the 14th century BC. Had Pharaoh Akhenaten merely moved the capital and changed some religious rites, perhaps his reign would be little more than a minor footnote in the annals of

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Luxor Non-Royal Tombs Guide

Touring the Non-Royal Tombs of Luxor

Luxor (or Thebes) was the religious capital of Egypt throughout the entire New Kingdom period. Accordingly, this is where most of the important nobles’ tombs from the era can be found. And many of them still retain their vibrant color today. Even if you’ve spent considerable time at places like Saqqara, the tombs of Luxor

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Ramesses VI Tomb Valley of the Kings Guide

A Complete Guide to The Valley of the Kings (and Queens)

The Valley of the Kings, in use for around 500 years, is where most rulers of Egypt’s New Kingdom era chose to be buried. The tombs were carved into the limestone hill of Al-Qurn in Luxor’s west bank, which curiously resembles a pyramid. Today, these tombs provide us with valuable insight into how the Egyptians

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Hatshepsut Temple

Touring the Temples of Luxor’s West Bank

In ancient Egypt, the west side of the Nile River was synonymous with the setting sun, completion and death. That’s why, in addition to the tombs themselves, numerous pharaohs built elaborate temples here to sustain their spirit after death. While the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is undoubtedly the main highlight, there are some other gems,

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Luxor Temple Court of Ramesses II

Luxor Temple: The Temple of Man

In ancient Egypt, the temple was much more than a place of worship. Each one could be likened to a multidimensional book with a focus on a particular teaching. This interpretation was developed by French researcher R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz who spent nearly two decades at Luxor Temple, taking measurements and examining the reliefs. From

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Karnak Temple Guide Hypostyle Hall

A Guide to Karnak: Egypt’s Largest Temple

Karnak, the largest temple ever built by the ancient Egyptians, was in constant use for over 1,500 years. It was in a perpetual state of construction, which is quite fitting, as Karnak Temple was consecrated to creation itself. Accordingly, the complex is massive, and finding your way around can be confusing. This following Karnak Temple

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El Lahun Pyramid Egypt

Mazes and Mudbrick: The Pyramids of El Lahun & Hawara

The Middle Kingdom pyramids of El Lahun and Hawara aren’t on most travelers’ radars. In fact, the whole Middle Kingdom period (1975-1640 BC) itself often gets largely ignored. The era hasn’t left us with much that can compete with the Old Kingdom pyramids or with the New Kingdom temples of Luxor. Be that as it

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Meidum Pyramid

The Mysteries of Meidum & Mastaba 17

The lost pyramid of Meidum is well off the beaten path for most tourists. And as it appears today, it hardly even resembles a pyramid at all. But this was possibly Egypt’s first-ever smooth-sided pyramid. Exactly how it collapsed and when remains an unsolved puzzle, however. Just next to it, meanwhile, is the even more

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Abu Gorab Nyussere Sun Temple

Abu Gorab: Sunset at Nyussere’s Sun Temple

About a kilometer across the desert from Abu Sir lies Abu Gorab, home to a Sun Temple erected by 5th Dynasty pharaoh Nyussere. While not in the greatest condition, it’s still one of the Old Kingdom’s best-preserved temples.  At first glance, Nyussere’s Sun Temple may not look like much. But the temple is host to

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Pyramid of Sahure Abu Sir

Visiting the Forgotten Pyramids of Abu Sir

The pyramid field of Abu Sir is situated in the desert between Giza and Saqqara and right next to the modern village of the same name. The Abu Sir pyramids are synonymous with the 5th Dynasty – a group of rulers who tried, but couldn’t quite recapture the splendor of their predecessors. Be that as

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Tomb of Khentkaus Second Sphinx

5 Hidden Gems of Giza: A Second Sphinx?

The Giza Plateau, home to Egypt’s largest pyramids and the Sphinx, needs little introduction. But few visitors are aware of just how much else there is to see beyond the main highlights. While exploring the pyramids should be your top priority, consider coming back for a second visit. Walking around the plateau, you can find

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Giza Pyramid Viewpoint

Giza: The Mysteries of The Pyramids & The Sphinx

So many aspects of the Giza Plateau are shrouded in mystery. The 4th Dynasty pyramids represent the apex of Egyptian engineering. But they were built quite early on in Egypt’s history. For the next few thousand years, no successive Egyptian dynasty would ever be able to match them. The question of how the 4th Dynasty Egyptians

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Bent Pyramid Dahshur

Dahshur & Memphis: Entering the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu

In between Djoser’s Step Pyramid and the Great Pyramid of Giza, a king named Sneferu made a name for himself as Egypt’s greatest ever pyramid builder. Snefuru, who took the throne in 2575 BC, is credited with two large pyramids at Dahshur, a site just south of Saqqara. One of them is the Red Pyramid,

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Unas Causeway Saqqara Guide

Saqqara: The Ultimate Guide

Saqqara is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating and important archaeological sites on the entire planet. But being just a short drive away from the Giza Plateau – arguably the world’s most famous attraction – means that it doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves. Though many visit Saqqara as part of a half-day

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Saqqara Step Pyramid of King Djoser

Stepping Inside the Step Pyramid of Djoser

It’s widely regarded as the world’s very first pyramid. And, for that matter, the first-ever major stone structure. And now, over 4600 years after its construction, Saqqara’s Step Pyramid continues to make headlines. For the first time in 14 years, the subterranean labyrinth beneath the pyramid has just opened up to the general public. Having

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