Travel Journal Exploring Egypt
Ancient Sites in Cairo
Known as “The Mother of the World”, Cairo is not only the capital of Egypt but also one of the largest African cities with over 16 million inhabitants. Surrounded by ancient and mysterious temples and tombs, it has a long and rich history of its own, as well as being one of the most vibrant cities in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s also increasingly easy to get to with a number of websites offering cheap flights to Cairo – try Cheap Flights or bargain holidays site Travelzoo.
Once you arrive you’ll quickly realise that Cairo has three very distinct areas: the modern Cairo, with its commercial centre, hotels, and the Cairo Museum; the Medieval Islamic Cairo, with its spectacular medieval architecture; and, Old Cairo, dowsed in ancient Egyptian history. With so much going on it can difficult to narrow down attractions to just a hand full of things, but here are three essential sites in and around the Egyptian capital:
Firstly any tourist has to visit the pyramids at Giza. Giza is a district in the west of the city, at the end of Pyramid Road. This is where the world famous Pyramids of Giza are situated, along with the enigmatic Sphinx, a lion with a man's head and is carved from one huge block of sandstone - both date from between 2700 and 2560BC. The Pyramids themselves are so iconic that they need virtually no introduction – to travel to Cairo and not to see the pyramids would seem almost perverse! (frequent visitors excepted).
Alongside the Pyramids, the Great Sphinx is one of the most iconic and unusual of the monoliths and even though it is a good deal smaller than the other temples and pyramids it is no less spectacular. The Greek word sphinx means 'strangler' and the Egyptian name, 'Abu El-Hol', is even worse, meaning 'Father of Terror' – in Greek mythology, the Sphinx famously terrorised the city of Thebes, asking passers by a riddle. A wrong answer meant death until Oedipus solved the riddle whereupon the Sphinx threw herself from a rock and died.
Cairo Egyptian Museum
Whilst in Cairo another “must see” is the Cairo Egyptian Museum, or, more correctly, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. One of the most impressive displays in the museum is the funeral mask of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen, which rests on the face of the mummified King and is said to represent what the Pharaoh actually looked like. Amazingly it is made from 24 pounds of solid gold. There are also many other artefacts from the Tutankhamen's tomb ranging from vases and jewellery to large items, such as decorated caskets, as well as remains from a great number of other tombs as including Ramses III, Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV. A visit here is virtually essential.
Travel Journal Exploring Egypt
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