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Popular Destinations

Kom El-dikka

Nobody thought much of the ancient rubble mound in central Alexandria until, in 1947, they decided to clear the site to make way for new housing. Instead, the area known as Kom el-Dikka ("Mound of Rubble") revealed a whole swag of ancient ruins including a small Roman theater. Excavation work commenced, and today, this park area includes the remnants of a Ptolemaic temple and the mosaic flooring of a wealthy Roman-era dwelling now known as the Villa of the Birds.

Alexandria, Egypt

Corniche

Downtown Alexandria's wide waterfront road is as much a symbol of the city as any of its monuments. It's here that you get a real feel for the era of cosmopolitan elegance and decadence that marked this city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of the architecture from this era still stands along the Corniche, though these days, much of it is heavily dilapidated and falling into disrepair. During your stroll check out the colonial remnants of the Cecil Hotel and Windsor Palace Hotel that are still the key harbor-side addresses for visitors who want to wallow in bygone-days ambience. The Cecil played host to Winston Churchill and the British Secret Service during WWII, and both hotels have endeavored to restore and keep much of their original Edwardian charm.

Alexandria, Egypt

Fort Qaitbey

Walk the long shorefront Corniche road heading west, and you'll finally arrive at Fort Qaitbey. It may be a poor substitute for what was once the site of the mighty Pharos Lighthouse - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - but this squat and dinky fort has been standing guard over Alexandria's eastern harbor since 1480. The Pharos itself said adieu to Alexandria in 1303 when it was toppled by a violent earthquake. Fort Qaitbey was built by Mamluke Sultan Qaitbey in an effort to fortify this important Egyptian port from attack, and rubble from the toppled lighthouse was used in its construction. Inside, you can explore the series of stone-walled chambers and climb up to the roof to look out over the Mediterranean.

Alexandria, Egypt

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

A reimagining of Alexandria's ancient Great Library, this gorgeously designed cultural center contains a host of museums as well as one of the modern world's most ambitious libraries. Its architecture - a giant sun disk - presides over the waterfront Corniche, while inside, a huge reading room can hold eight million volumes. Below the main library, visitors can explore a range of beautifully curated exhibitions. The Manuscript Museum with its magnificent collection of ancient texts and scrolls and the Antiquities Museum with its Graeco-Roman antiquities and statuary found during underwater exploration in the harbor are the two prime attractions. But there are also rotating art exhibitions, a permanent Egyptian folk art collection, and a Science Museum and Planetarium that are aimed squarely at children.

Alexandria, Egypt

Temples Of Abydos

The grand necropolis complex of Abydos is one of the oldest necropolises in Egypt and is associated with the first Egyptian capital of Thinis. It was here that kings and high court dignitaries were buried during the 1st and 2nd dynasties, and the rituals of kingly burials were first celebrated to symbolise the transitory and recurrent character of all earthly things. The site is centered round the beautiful Temple of Seti I and is a fine day out from Luxor.

Luxor, Egypt

Banana Island

If you've had your fill of temples and tombs for the day, there is no better way to relax in Luxor than to take a felucca ride to Banana Island. Five kilometers upriver from Luxor, this teeny palm-shaded island is the perfect chilled-out contrast to the history-filled treasures of the West and East Bank. Hop on a felucca in the late afternoon after a long day of temple and tomb viewing, and sit back to watch the Nile-side views as the boat captain raises the sail and you slide up the river. If you sail back just on sunset, you'll get to see the river at its most majestic.

Luxor, Egypt

Deir El-medina

Deir el-Medina is home to a small temple, the remnants of a workers' village (where the artisans of the royal tombs lived), and the tombs of the workers themselves. It's well worth a visit for the wall paintings adorning the tombs, which are a vibrant depiction of daily Egyptian life.

Don't miss the Tomb of Sennedjem who was a 19th-dynasty artist. It has a vaulted tomb chamber and reliefs and paintings on religious themes, including a fine representation of a funeral banquet. The contents of the tomb - discovered in 1886 - are now on display in Cairo's Egyptian Museum.

Luxor, Egypt

Mortuary Temple Of Seti I

The Mortuary Temple of Seti I is dedicated to Amun and to the cult of the king's father Ramses I. Left unfinished by Seti I, it was adorned by Ramses II with reliefs and inscriptions, which vie in quality with the contemporary work at Abydos. The temple was originally 158-meters long, but all that now remains is the sanctuary with its various halls and chambers and some scanty fragments of the courts and pylons.

For those travelers interested in ancient Egyptian decorative work, the temple's Hypostyle Hall contains some excellent examples of reliefs. On the roof slabs over the central aisle are the winged solar disc, flying vultures, and the names of Seti I, enclosed by snakes and flanked by two rows of hieroglyphics. The low reliefs on the walls depict Seti I and Ramses II making offerings to various gods, including, on the right, Hathor of Dendera who is suckling Seti.

Luxor, Egypt

Valley Of The Queens

The tombs in the Valley of the Queens mostly belong to the 19th and 20th dynasties. A total of almost 80 tombs are now known, most of them excavated by an Italian expedition led by E. Schiaparelli between 1903 and 1905. Many of the tombs are unfinished and without decoration, resembling mere caves in the rocks. There are few incised inscriptions or reliefs, with much of the decoration consisting of paintings on stucco. Unfortunately, most of the tombs are closed to the public at the moment.

The Valley of the Queens is most famous for the Tomb of Queen Nefertari, which has been closed for several years because of preservation issues. The best open tombs in the area are the Tomb of Prince Amen-her-khopshef, a son of Ramses III, which contains well-preserved colors on its wall paintings, and the Tomb of Titi.

Luxor, Egypt

Ramesseum

The great mortuary temple built by Ramses II and dedicated to Amun, lies on the edge of the cultivated land, some one-and-a-half kilometers south of Deir el-Bahri. Although only about half of the original structure survives, it is still a highly impressive monument. During the Roman Imperial period, it was known as the Tomb of Ozymandias mentioned by the historian Diodorus (1st century BC) and was later immortalised by the English poet Shelley in his poem Ozymandias.

The north tower and south tower are inscribed with reliefs of Ramses II's battle with the Hittites, similar to the reliefs of Abu Simbel. On the South Tower, the whole of the left hand half of the wall is taken up by the Battle of Qadesh. Scenes here portray Ramses in his chariot dashing against the Hittites, who are killed by his arrows or flee in wild confusion and fall into the River Orontes, while to the right, you can make out the Hittite Prince and the enemy fleeing into their fortress.

Inside the First Court are the remains of a colossal figure of the king, which is estimated to have originally had a total height of 17.5 meters and to have weighed more than 1,000 tons.

Luxor, Egypt