Egypt boasts such a wealth of historical attractions that when you book a bargain all-inclusive holiday to the north African country, it can be hard to decide which to visit. With this in mind, we have put together a list of three that are not to be missed.
The Pyramids of Giza
OK, this is a bit of a cheat as this site near Cairo is not home to one ancient marvel but several. Here you will find Khufu’s Pyramid, the smaller pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, the Sphinx, tombs of Khufu’s wives and sisters and a workers’ village.
So little is known about how the pyramids were constructed and why exactly they were built that they have become deeply mysterious landmarks that have fascinated generations. Khufu’s Pyramid – also known as the Great Pyramid – is so impressive it was included as one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is the only one still standing today.
Exactly how and why the structures were built continues to be a subject of debate, but the most widely-held theory is that limestone was taken from a neighbouring quarry and put in place by as many as 100,000 workers to form the internal structure, before being covered with smoother stones from further down the Nile. The Great Pyramid took an estimated 20 years to build and its staggering coordinates mean it is an awe-inspiring feat of engineering.
No less impressive is the Sphinx, which is the world’s oldest and largest monumental statue to be carved from a single piece of stone and depicts the body of a lion with a human head. Unlike the pyramids, this was built from an outcrop of limestone that was already in place, but the features on the face, although eroded, are incredibly detailed.
Citadel of Qaitbay
Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt and was once home to another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria. This stood on the island of Pharos and helped safely guide sailors into the city’s port.
While the lighthouse no longer exists, there are still numerous historical sites to see – most notably the Citadel of Qaitbay. It was built in the 15th century to guard against attack from the across Mediterranean.
In fact, it was actually built on the same spot that the lighthouse stood, before it was destroyed by an earthquake. The citadel itself has also undergone several transformations over the centuries since the lighthouse was ruined.
Valley of the Kings
After Giza, this is the most important Ancient Egyptian site and has numerous monuments. Between the 16th and 11th century BC, pharaohs constructed tombs in the valley to the west of the River Nile, some of which are simple and others more ornate.
The Tomb of Tutankhamen is certainly one you will have heard of as it is the basis for numerous myths and legends. After being discovered in the 1920s, some people involved in the excavation became ill or died in mysteries circumstances, leading to the story that the boy king had placed a curse on them.
There are numerous other tombs, including those belonging to Horemheb and Merneptah that are decorated with beautiful paintings.
Be sure to check before you travel to find out which tombs are open, as they are occasionally closed for restoration.