10 Reasons Why Egypt Should Be Next On Your Travel List

10. Alexandria

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Alexandria (/ˌælɪɡˈzændrɪə/ or /ˌælɪɡˈzɑːndrɪə/;[1] Arabic: الإسكندرية al-Iskandariyyah; Egyptian Arabic: اسكندرية‎‎ Eskendereyyah; Coptic: Ⲁⲗⲉⲝⲁⲛⲇⲣⲓⲁ, Ⲣⲁⲕⲟⲧⲉ Aleksandria, Rakotə) is the second largest city and a major economic centre in Egypt, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is Egypt’s largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt’s imports and exports. It is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also an important tourist destination.

Alexandria was founded around a small Ancient Egyptian town c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great. It became an important center of the Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Hellenistic and Roman and Byzantine Egypt for almost 1000 years until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat (later absorbed into Cairo). Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library (the largest in the ancient world; now replaced by a modern one); and the Necropolis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Alexandria was the second most powerful city of the ancient world after Rome. Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbor of Alexandria, which began in 1994, is revealing details of Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhacotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.

From the late 18th century, Alexandria became a major center of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centers in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton.

Alexandria is a main summer resort and tourist attraction, due to its public and private beaches and ancient history and Museums, especially the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, based on reviving the ancient Library of Alexandria.

One of the main tourism attractions that start every year from the city is Cross Egypt Challenge. Started in 2011, Cross Egypt Challenge is an international cross-country motorcycle and scooter rally conducted throughout the most difficult tracks and roads of Egypt. Alexandria is known as the yearly starting point of Cross Egypt Challenge and a huge celebration is conducted the night before the rally starts after all the international participants arrive to the city.

9. Khan el-khalili

Khan-el-Khalili-bazar-egypt

Khan el-Khalili (Arabic: خان الخليلي‎‎) is a major souk in the Islamic district of Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.

The Khan el-Khalili today is mainly occupied by Egyptian rather than foreign merchants and shopholders, but is significantly geared towards tourists. Shops typically sell souvenirs, antiques and jewellery, but many traditional workshops continue to operate in the surrounding area and the goldsmiths’ souq, for example, is still important for locals.[4]:180[6]:81

In addition to shops, there are several coffeehouses (مقهى maqha ), restaurants, and street food vendors distributed throughout the market. The coffeeshops are generally small and quite traditional, serving Arabic coffee and usually offering shisha. One of the oldest and most famous coffeehouses is Fishawi’s, established in 1773.[6]:109

The al-Hussein Mosque is adjacent to Khan el-Khalili, and Al-Azhar University and its mosque are nearby.

8. The Nile

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The Nile (Arabic: النيل‎‎, Eg. en-Nīl, Std. an-Nīl; Coptic: ⲫⲓⲁⲣⲱ, P(h)iaro; Ancient EgyptianḤ’pī and Iteru; Biblical Hebrew: היאור, Ha-Ye’or) is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, generally regarded as thelongest river in the world.[2] It is 6,853 km (4,258 miles) long. The Nile is an “international” river as its water resources are shared by eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa,Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.[3] In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.[4]

The northern section of the river flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in a large delta and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdomshave depended on the river since ancient times. Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along riverbanks.

7. Valley of the Kings

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The Valley of the Kings (Arabic: وادي الملوك‎‎ Wādī al Mulūk), the Valley of the Gates of the Kings (Arabic: وادي ابواب الملوك‎‎ Wādī Abwāb al Mulūk),[1] is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt).[2][3] The valley stands on the west bank of theNile, opposite Thebes (modern Luxor), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis.[4] The wadi consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs are situated) and West Valley. With the 2005 discovery of a new chamber (KV63), and the 2008 discovery of two further tomb entrances,[5] the valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers (ranging in size from KV54, a simple pit, to KV5, a complex tomb with over 120 chambers).[6] It was the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the Pharaohs. This area has been a focus of archaeological and egyptological exploration since the end of the eighteenth century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (with its rumours of the Curse of the Pharaohs[7]), and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In 1979, it became a World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the Theban Necropolis.[8] Exploration, excavation and conservation continues in the valley, and a new tourist centre has recently been opened.

6. Egyptian Cuisine

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Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes, vegetables and fruits since Egypt‘s rich Nile valley and delta produce large quantities of these crops in high quality.

Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as Ful Medames, mashed fava beans; Koshari, a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, and other ingredients; ‘Molokheyya, chopped and cooked bush okra with garlic and coriander sauce; and Fetir Meshaltet. Egyptian cuisine shares similarities with food of the Eastern Mediterranean region, such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, Shawarma, Kebab, Falafel, Baba Ghannoug, and baklava.

Some consider Koshari – a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni – to be the national dish. Ful Medames is also one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel (also known as ta`meyya), which originated in Egypt and spread around to other parts of the Middle East.

Ancient Egyptians are known to have used a lot of garlic and onions in their everyday dishes. Fresh garlic mashed with other herbs is used in spicy tomato salad and also stuffed in boiled or baked aubergines (eggplant). Garlic fried with coriander is added to Molokheyya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can be also added to Koshari.

5. Culture of Cairo

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Over the ages, and as far back as four thousand years, Egypt stood as the land where many civilizations have met. The Pharaohs together with the Greeks, Babylonians and the Romans have left their imprints here. Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula, led by Amr ibn al-A’as, introduced Islam into Egypt. Khedive Mohammad Ali, with his Albanian family roots, put Egypt on the road to modernity. The cultural mixture in this city is only natural, considering its heritage. Egypt can be likened to an open museum with monuments of the different historical periods on display everywhere.

Cairo (/ˈkr/ kye-roh; Arabic: القاهرة‎‎, al-Qāhirah, Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ, Kahire) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The city’s metropolitan area is the largest in the Middle East and the Arab world, and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta,[1][2] modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by Jawhar al-Siqilli (“the Sicilian”) of the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a center of the region’s political and cultural life, and is nicknamed “the city of a thousand minarets” for its preponderance of Islamic architecture.

Egyptians today often refer to Cairo as Maṣr ([mɑsˤɾ], مصر), the Egyptian Arabic pronunciation of the name for Egypt itself, emphasising the city’s continued role in Egyptian influence.[3][4] Its official name is القاهرة al-Qāhirah , means literally: “the Defeater”, in reference to the fact that the planet Mars (“Al Najm Al Tahir”) was rising at the time when the city was founded [5]as well as, “the Vanquisher”; “the Conqueror”; Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [elqɑ(ː)ˈheɾɑ], “the Defeater” or, ” “the Victorious” (al-Qahira) in reference to the much awaited[6] Caliph al-Mu’izz li Din Allah who arrived from the old Fatimid Ifriqiyan capital of Mahdia in 973 to the city. The Egyptian name for Cairo is said to be: Khere-Ohe, meaning: “The Place of Combat”, supposedly, in reference to a battle which took place between the Gods Seth and Horus.[7] Sometimes the city is informally also referred to as كايرو Kayro [ˈkæjɾo].[8] It is also called Umm ad-Dunya, meaning “the mother of the world”.[9]

Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, as well as the world’s second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city; the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.

With a population of 6.76 million[10] spread over 453 square kilometers (175 sq mi), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. An additional 10 million inhabitants live just outside the city. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic. Cairo’s metro, one of only two metros on the African continent (the other is in Algiers), ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world,[11] with over 1 billion[12] annual passenger rides. The economy of Cairo was ranked first in the Middle East[13] in 2005, and 43rd globally by Foreign Policys 2010 Global Cities Index.[14]

4. St. Catherine’s Monastery

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Saint Catherine’s Monastery (Greek: Μονὴ τῆς Ἁγίας Αἰκατερίνης, Monē tēs Hagias Aikaterinēs, Arabic: دير القدّيسة كاترين‎‎), officially “Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai” (Modern Greek: Ιερά Μονή του Θεοβαδίστου Όρους Σινά, Ierá Moní tou Theovadístou Órous Siná), lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the city of Saint Catherine, Egypt in the South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is controlled by the autocephalous Church of Sinai, part of the wider Eastern Orthodox Church, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world.[1][2] The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including theSyriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus.[3][4]

The oldest record of monastic life at Sinai comes from the travel journal written in Latin by a woman named Egeria about 381-384. She visited many places around the Holy Land and Mount Sinai, where, according to the Hebrew Bible, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.[5]

The monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565), enclosing the Chapel of the Burning Bush (also known as “Saint Helen’s Chapel”) ordered to be built by Empress Consort Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. The living bush on the grounds is purportedly the one seen by Moses. Structurally the monastery’s king post truss is the oldest known surviving roof truss in the world.[6] The site is sacred to Christianity, Islamand Judaism.[7]

A mosque was created by converting an existing chapel during the Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171), which was in regular use until the era of the Mamluk Sultanate in the 13th century and is still in use today on special occasions. During the Ottoman Empire, the mosque was in desolate condition; it was restored in the early 20th century.[8]

During the seventh century, the isolated Christian anchorites of the Sinai were eliminated: only the fortified monastery remained. The monastery is still surrounded by the massive fortifications that have preserved it. Until the twentieth century, access was through a door high in the outer walls. From the time of the First Crusade, the presence of Crusaders in the Sinai until 1270 spurred the interest of European Christians and increased the number of intrepid pilgrims who visited the monastery. The monastery was supported by its dependencies in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Crete, Cyprus and Constantinople.

The monastery, along with several dependencies in the area, constitute the entire Church of Sinai, which is headed by an archbishop, who is also the abbot of the monastery. The exact administrative status of the church within the Eastern Orthodox Church is ambiguous: by some, including the church itself,[9] it is considered autocephalous,[10][11] by others an autonomous church under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.[12] The archbishop is traditionally consecrated by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem; in recent centuries he has usually resided in Cairo. During the period of the Crusades which was marked by bitterness between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the monastery was patronized by both the Byzantine emperors and the rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and their respective courts.

The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library. It contains Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Hebrew,Georgian, and Aramaic texts.

3. Egyptian Museum

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The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms. The edifice is one of the largest museums in the region. As of October 2015, the museum is open to the public.

There are two main floors in the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the ground floor there is an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the Ancient world. The numerous pieces of papyrus are generally small fragments, due to their decay over the past two millennia. Several languages are found on these pieces, including Greek, Latin, Arabic, and ancient Egyptian. The coins found on this floor are made of many different metals, including gold, silver, and bronze. The coins are not only Egyptian, but also Greek, Roman, and Islamic. This has helped historians research the history of Ancient Egyptian trade.

Also on the ground floor are artifacts from the New Kingdom, the time period between 1550 and 1069 BC. These artifacts are generally larger than items created in earlier centuries. Those items include statues, tables, and coffins (sarcophagi).

On the first floor there are artifacts from the final two dynasties of Egypt, including items from the tombs of the Pharaohs Thutmosis III, Thutmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut, and the courtier Maiherpri, as well as many artifacts from the Valley of the Kings, in particular the material from the intact tombs of Tutankhamun and Psusennes I. Two special rooms contain a number of mummies of kings and other royal family members of the New Kingdom.

2. Giza Pyramid Complex

All Giza Pyramids
All Giza Pyramids

The Giza pyramid complex (Arabic: أهرامات الجيزة‎‎, IPA: [ʔɑhɾɑˈmɑːt elˈɡiːzæ], “pyramids of Giza”) is an archaeological site on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. This complex of ancient monuments includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids, the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers’ village and an industrial complex. It is located in the Libyan Desert, approximately 9 km (5 mi) west of the Nile river at the old town of Giza, and about 13 km (8 mi) southwest of Cairo city centre. The pyramids, which have historically loomed large as emblems of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination,[1][2] were popularised in Hellenistic times, when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.

1. Dahab

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Dahab (Egyptian Arabic: دهب‎‎, IPA: [ˈdæhæb], “gold”) is a small town on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, approximately 80 km (50 mi) northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, Dahab is now considered to be one of Sinai’s most treasured diving destinations.

Dahab attracts large numbers of tourists. It is world-renowned for its windsurfing. Reliable winds provide superb flat-water conditions inside Dahab’s sand spit. Further away from shore, wavy conditions couple with strong winds to provide formidable conditions for keen windsurfers. However, in recent years, the lagoon inside the sand spit has been overtaken by kitesurfers, with two Russian-owned schools opening right on the beach. SCUBA diving, free-diving and snorkelling are also popular activities with manyreefs immediately adjacent to waterfront hotels. The nearby Blue Hole (nicknamed “The World’s Most Dangerous Diving Site”) and Canyon are internationally famous dive spots. The increasing destruction of coral from reckless divers/dive centres diving is a pressing issue that is causing some worry, sparking the need to regulate dive centres more thoroughly. Land-based activities include camel, horse, cycling, mountain bikes trips, jeep and quad bike trips. Mount Sinai is a two-hours drive, with Saint Catherine’s Monastery being a popular tourist destination.

Historically, most visitors to Dahab have been backpackers travelling independently and staying in hostels, motels or guesthouses in the Masbat area. In recent years, development of hotels in the Medina area has facilitated the arrival of a wider range of tourists, many of whom visit Dahab specifically to partake in the surfing, windsurfing, diving, kite surfing, sailing, and other activities.

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