A rich tapestry... Egypt's ancient history

| February 18, 2013

Firoz Ullah recently travelled to Egypt with Cox & Kings.

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History is everywhere in Egypt, from grand ancient Egyptian monuments to modern tanks and aircrafts showcased in the Military Museum on Cairo citadel. This was the main reason for my visit to Egypt, as I have an interest in the civilisations that have passed this fascinating country.

From Alexandria in the north, to the Abu Simbel in the south, this trip covered all the main sites in a timely and organised manner. Travelling on my own, I had plenty of time to myself along with escorted guides at the sites. One of the advantages of going just after the revolution in Egypt was that the sights were fairly empty and as a result I could explore them all with ease.

There is probably not much I could add to the magnificence of the pyramids and the sphinx, but I was amazed by the size of the monuments. The grandeur can only be felt by visiting the sites; the sheer size of each block of stone of the pyramids is a wonder to behold. It’s no surprise that the pyramids are the only surviving ancient wonder of the world.

Exploring Cairo can be a daunting task as I quickly found out. With my guidebook in one hand and water bottle in the other I attempted to explore some medieval Fatimid mosques. After trying to match road names in my guidebook with the reality I faced in Cairo (namely no marked road names), I decided taking a taxi was probably best.

The Ibn Tulun mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Cairo and one of best Faitmid-era ones. It’s unique in the sense that it has a spiral minaret (not in use), which was meant to be an imitation of the mosque in Samarra, Iraq. From near the top of the minaret one can get a good look of the busy streets of Cairo, the other domes and minarets that are a highlight of Cairo.

After having visited Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and other smaller sites, I arrived in Aswan. Set on a small island with a pretty surrounding, the Temple of Philae proved to be a very pleasant trip. This Graeco-Roman site combines ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture into one and reflects how much respect there was among the ancient civilisations.

One of the most imposing sites, I found personally, was Abu Simbel. Set near the southernmost point of ancient and modern Egypt, we can imagine how awe inspiring this monument must have been to the ancients. The scenes of the battle of Kadesh within this monument testify to the military achievements of Ramses II. No other site in Egypt showcases the greatness or ego of Ramses II than Abu Simbel.

This week and a half trip was a fascinating insight into Egypt and was well paced out with excellent guides. I would highly recommend it.

View Cox & Kings' holidays to Egypt.

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