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  • Sacred and secret places in Egypt

    Oracle Temple, Siwa

    When I think of Egypt, Cairo with its bazaars, restaurants and hotels is not the first thing that comes to my mind. The idea of Egypt as a travel destination, for me (and I’m sure for many of you as well), cannot be separated from the ancient and mysterious culture that has left its mark on the country.

    The pyramids of Giza are among the first landmarks that a tourist visits in Egypt, and there are many more exquisite sacred sites that will take you back in time and make your imagination run wild. So after you’ve visited Luxor, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and the major relics of the Egyptian civilization, take a look at these less famous but equally compelling places.

    Temple of Sobek and Haroeris, Kom Ombo

    Located between the Edfu and Aswan on the banks of the Nile, this small temple is not very old in historical terms. It dates back to the times of the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, 180 BC, more precisely. The Roman rulers of Egypt made some additions to the temple, but all in good taste.

    The temple is dedicated to an unusual pair of deities: the crocodile headed Sobek, the god of fertility and Haroeris, a version of the falcon headed Horus. Parts of the temple have unfortunately been washed away by the Nile, but the exquisite Outer Hypostyle Hall is still standing.

    Step Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara

    The Great Pyramid is one amazing sight, but it’s not the only pyramid worth seeing in Egypt. The pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara might be a lot smaller, but it certainly is unique. It is the oldest stone pyramid that is still standing, so it has a huge historical significance.

    Unfortunately you can’t go inside unless you get permission from the Antiquities Inspectorate, but just consider yourself in the position of the pilgrims who visited the pyramid in ancient times (just don’t leave any graffiti, like they did :P).

    Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor

    Hatshepsut was one of the very few female pharaoh’s of Egypt, and she was one impressive ruler. Her steward built the temple, called Splendor of Splendors, after her death so that her royal subjects could worship her even posthumously. But her successor Tuthmosis III promptly defaced statues and reliefs of her when he took the throne, perhaps out of spite for her remarkable achievements.

    The causeway leading to the temple is very impressive, and among the other highlights of the temple are the three terraced courtyards, the Birth Colonade, the Chapel of Hathor and the Djeser Djeseru, a colonade built into a cliff, which from afar looks like the hieroglyph for Nun, the primordial mound from which the god Amun was born.

    Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramses II

    Ramses II was one of the most glorious kings of Egypt, and his temple does him justice. The temple is built in the classical New Kingdom style, with two pylons each leading into a courtyard, an impressive hypostyle hall and the extraordinary Ozymandias colossus, a statue of Ramses which would be 18 feet high if it were still standing. Under the temple, archaeologists uncovered a old tomb dating back to the Middle Kingdom, filled with funerary artifacts.

    Bent Pyramid, Dahshur

    The bent pyramid of Sneferu was not intended to be built in such a peculiar shape, but probably due to some miscalculations, the walls of the pyramid had to be bent so as not to collapse, and i never quite reached the planned height. Seeing as it’s the first true pyramid (as opposed to step pyramids), I think it’s not bad for a first attempt. What’s special about this pyramid (in addition to its shape) is the fact that the walls retain most of the limestone plaques, and it gives a fairly good idea of what pyramids used to look like.

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    […] that you should definitely¬† see while you are in the country. All of these belong to the once sacred places of Egypt and you can still feel how moving it is to walk amongst them even after long centuries of change. […]


    Comments on Sacred and secret places in Egypt

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    Rebounding Master wrote on August 24, 2011:

    I enjoyed reading the pyramid history you have compiled. I love history and I read everything I can about it. Great post!!

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