We are all in search of our roots and the study of ancient civilizations at the start of college often arouses a passion that drives us to explore the countries that formed the cradle of the modern era.
The use of writing in Mesopotamia and Egypt more than 5,000 years ago was the major element in their development and allows us to understand today the messages left long ago.
In Egypt, the testimonies of the greatness of these first civilizations are still particularly numerous and continue to surprise us with their majesty. We invite you to discover the most beautiful of them and the setting in which they are located.
In the 1960s, when the Egyptian government decided to build the Aswan dam to regulate the devastating floods of the Nile, the problem of the disappearance of a large number of temples arose. A great international movement arose, the main purpose of which was to save Abu Simbel and its royal colossi.
As we are in Egypt, it took a pharaonic work to cut the 2 temples into blocks of several tons and reinstall them 100 m higher. The result is spectacular, especially since we took the precaution of respecting the same orientation, which allows the sun to penetrate to the back of the temple, twice a year. Located in the far south, the site of Abu Simbel is definitely to be included when you want to visit Egypt. It’s all the easier since an airport has been built right next door.
The city created by Alexander in the 300s BC, then enlarged and magnified by Ptolemy is the most European of Egyptian cities. Even if it has lost the lighthouse which was its emblem, and whose scale and sophistication earned it a place among the 7 wonders of the world, Alexandria still retains many ancient monuments.
Having become an influential port in the 19th century, it has seen very elegant buildings flourish, which can be admired during the unmissable promenade of the Corniche, which goes from Silsila point to the fort of Qaïtbay. Do not miss the visit of the new library, inaugurated in 2002, worthy of its disappeared ancestor, which shone on the ancient world.
If you are looking for an authentic village, far from the crowds of tourists, stop off at Qoseir, on the shores of the Red Sea. Formerly an important port, when the Suez Canal was not yet drilled, it has kept its charm, with its pretty Ottoman houses by the sea.
You can also visit an old fortress and an 18th century mosque. Here, you will have real contact with the villagers, without them reaching out to you for possible alms. You can make it your home port and then radiate to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.
Aswan and its islands
The rocky encumbrances of the Nile form cataracts, which are 6 in number. The first is located at Aswan, at the gates of Nubia. The landscape here is particularly striking: the blue waters of the Nile meander between the green islands facing the city.
They are Kitchener and its botanical garden, Elephantine and the temple of the god Khnum, Séhel and its stelae. They are so many invitations to join them aboard a felucca, this sailing boat that one must take during any visit to Egypt.
The highlight of any visit to Egypt is, without question, the discovery of the main sites from a boat gliding on the Nile. From one day to more than 3 weeks, Nile cruises are an opportunity to admire and visit the most beautiful places in Egypt.
You can leave from Cairo or more probably from Luxor, to discover Karnak, the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, Aswan, Abu Simbel and sleep aboard a comfortable cabin.
White Desert Most of the sites to visit in Egypt are along the Nile or the Red Sea, but the desert also conceals wonders. The most spectacular is probably the White Desert.
Seeing these sparkling white limestone concretions appear in the middle of a sea of ochre-colored sand is an unforgettable scene. Make sure you have plenty of room on your photo card, because you’re going to want to capture these rocks taking on fantastic shapes.
Karnak More than a temple, Karnak is a huge religious complex, the construction of which took place over more than 2,000 years. The city contained all the buildings necessary for the life of the servants of the supreme divinity.
The visit takes you back in time, because over the centuries buildings have been destroyed to erect new ones. At the entrance, the first pylon already imposes with its 113 m of facade. Plan at least 2h30 for the visit to admire the temples, colonnades, obelisks and sanctuaries, each one more imposing than the other.
Difficult to visit Egypt without devoting at least one day to the visit of its capital, Cairo. You can start by going up to the Cairo Tower, in order to have a panoramic view of the city, stroll through the old town, get lost in the maze of the souk Khân al-Khalili and spend a good part of the day in the fantastic Cairo Museum, where you will be able to perfect your knowledge of the ancient world. And it is from Cairo that you will be able to discover the pyramids of the Giza plateau.
Thebes has become Louxor, but its temple is still as imposing. The Alley of the Sphynxes is already dizzying, and you really feel small at the foot of the huge columns of the court of Ramses II and the monumental statues of the famous sovereign.
This completed the site laid out by his predecessor Amenophis III, whose courtyard as well as the temple and the birth and offering rooms, as well as the Chapelle aux Enseignes, can also be visited. A must on any visit to Egypt!
Hurghada and the Red Sea
Between two visits to temples, it is good to go and relax by the sea. If you also want to enjoy superb scuba diving spots, then Hurghada is the place to go. A fishing port converted into a tourist area with many hotels, this town enjoys a long sandy beach and offers a sublime landscape of islands surrounded by perfectly transparent water.
The coral massifs, which are the subject of protection, are as many opportunities to practice diving. Are you beginners? No problem, you will find many schools here that can initiate you. And if you’re not tempted, try snorkeling. You will be amazed by the spectacle of fish of all colors.
A visit to Egypt would not be complete without discovering the Sinai Peninsula, its desert and its extraordinary geology. Landscapes of dunes and palm groves coexist with high pointed peaks, such as Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Moses. In this high place of Catholicism, you can visit the Sainte-Catherine Monastery. Along the way, it is not uncommon to meet nomadic goat or camel breeders, who jealously guard their ancestral culture. Admire the beautiful clothes of the women, whose colors indicate status.
Going deeper into the desert, towards Libya, the path is dotted with oases, relatively far from each other. Dakhla, in the south, is the largest of these. Many small villages have been created on its edges, including that of Dakhla, which has 4,000 inhabitants, most of them Bedouins.
Here, the aridity of the desert stops and gives way to greenery and varied crops: olive groves, palm groves, fields of cereals, orange and apricot trees, to name but a few.
After the salvage of the temple of Abu Simbel, the world began to dream of a similar operation to rehabilitate the island of Philae and its temple of Isis. It was indeed regularly under water because of the first Aswan dam, erected at the beginning of the 20th century.
The temple was therefore moved to a neighboring island, with higher relief, in the course of the 1970s. We can therefore once again wander through the temple complex and its annexes.
What would a visit to Egypt be without visiting some of its pyramids? There are about a hundred, whose construction spanned from -2700 to -1550 BC, with an evolution in the architecture over time. The oldest was erected at Saqquarah, near the ancient capital, Memphis.
Designed by the architect Imhotep, it was intended for the ruler Djoser, founder of the Old Kingdom. It is a step pyramid, in the center of a complex which includes many mastabas (private tombs), open to visitors and which allow you to imagine life at the time.
The Giza plateau, not far from Cairo, includes the 3 pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos. These were built about 200 years after Saqquarah and are of the smooth type. It is here that you can see the famous and imposing Sphinx.
16. Valley of the Kings
Surrounding Luxor is the vast ensemble of the Theban Necropolis. The kings gradually abandoned the construction of pyramids for tombs dug in the mountain. The Valley of the Kings concentrates a set of 63 burials, the last of which were discovered in 2006.
It was there that the tomb of Tutankhamun, most of whose objects can be found in the Cairo Museum, was discovered. It is better to devote the visit to the most richly decorated tombs, such as that of Ramses III. The entrance ticket gives access to 3 of them, each with its specificity.