Cairo and the ancient monuments of the Egyptian empire have fascinated visitors throughout the centuries. The mystifying Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza, over four thousand years old, stand majestically on the outskirts of the city at the edge of the desert. Cairo's Museum of Antiquities holds one of the finest collections of artifacts in the world, including the astounding treasures of King Tutankhamen's tomb.
Aswan is Egypt's sunniest southern city and has a distinctively African atmosphere. The pace of life here in the most beautiful setting on the Nile is slow and relaxing. It is a favorite winter resort spot for Europeans, Middle Easterns and Africans alike - it's a perfect place to get away from it all. Strolling up and down the Corniche, one can watch sailboats glide by. Savor the flavor of locally caught fish while listening to Nubian music or wander in the bazaar and get lost in the sights and sounds of this mystical place. Visit the Aga Khan Mausoleum, the Monastery at Qubbat al-Hawa, the Unfinished Obelisk, The Tombs of the Nobles, Qubbat al-Hawa, the Monastery at Aswan , or the St. Simeon monastery (Anba Hatre), uninhabited and just outside of Aswan.
Aside from visiting the pyramids near Cairo, Luxor and Al Karnak are places not to be missed when in search of ancient Egyptian monuments and artifacts. Luxor is on the southern part of ancient Thebes, Al Karnak on the north. Between the two, visitors can lose themselves for days in the hundreds of temples, chapels, tombs and gardens in the area. Too extensive to list all of them, a few of the tombs not to be missed are the tombs of Nefertari, Amenhotep II & III, several Ramesses and Tutankhamen.
Abu Simbel is a set of two temples near the border of Egypt with Sudan. It was constructed for the pharaoh Ramesses II who reigned for 67 years during the 13th century BC (19th Dynasty).
The temples were cut from the rock and shifted to higher ground in the 1960s as the waters of Lake Nasser began to rise following completion of the Aswan High Dam.
The Great Temple is dedicated to Ramesses II and a statue of him is seated with three other gods within the innermost part of the rock-cut temple (the sanctuary). The temple's facade is dominated by four enormous seated statues of the Pharaoh (each over 20 metres or 67 feet high), although one has been damaged since ancient times.
The Small Temple was probably completed ahead of the Great Temple and is dedicated to Ramesses' favourite wife, Nefertari. At the entrance stand six 10-metre-high (33 feet) rock-cut statues - two of Ramesses and one of Nefertari on either side of the doorway.
Nile River Cruising
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