Pyramids, Temples and Ancient Gods
If you want to see one of the wonders of the world, Egypt should be on your list. Culturally enlightening, historically humbling, and religiously inspiring, a journey through Egypt is spiritual and emotional. I experienced all of this in Egypt!
Immediately upon disembarking in Cairo we went to the Four Seasons First Residence (there are many 4 and 5 star hotels in Cairo) in downtown Cairo. It took approximately 30 minutes to travel from the airport.
We spent our first day visiting the Cairo Museum, the stunning treasures of King Tut are housed, and the real live mummy of King Ramses II lays. Following the museum, we visited the Great Pyramids and the colossal Great Sphinx, standing guard over the pyramids for over 4,500 years. Finally, we visited the Solar Boat Museum which houses the monolithic boat of King Cheops built for his afterlife voyages. A short flight from Cairo took us to our next stop in Egypt, the laid-back and pleasant town of Aswan. Aswan is inhabited mostly by Nubians, people of Southern Egypt that settled along the banks of the Nile for its rich agriculture.
We were ferried us to the island of Philae and the Temple of Isis. Orsiris, Isis, and Horus dominate ancient Egyptian culture and to see the magnificent Temple dedicated to the Goddess Isis, with its stunning hieroglyphic stories, was breathtaking and magical like Isis herself.
Before checking in at the Old Cataract Hotel, we visited the Aswan Dam, better known as the High Dam. The Old Cataract Hotel is a completely renovated 19th century Victorian Palace on the banks of the Nile with spectacular views of Elephantine Island. We descended the famous Elephantine Island Nilometer. Nilometers were used to measure the river’s water level during flood season: too low would bring famine and too high, destruction.
Most people traveling between Aswan and Luxor or vice versa take a Nile Cruise. These last between 4-5 days and stops are made at Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Esna Temples. We were driving instead, while not for everyone due to the bumpy, dusty roads, sugar cane trucks, the drive offers a glimpse of rural Egypt. Our stops enroute to Luxor included the Temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu.
Kom Ombo is one of the places Tamir picked my jaw off the ground. Kom Ombo is really a double temple. One is dedicated to Horus and the other to Sobek, the crocodile god. Sobek is associated with Seth, the enemy of Horus and in the Horus myth the allies of Seth made the escape by changing themselves into crocodiles. The crocodiles themselves were actually mummified and are on display at the Temple. The Temple of Edfu is one of the largest and well-preserved in Egypt. After the visit to Kom Ombo and Edfu, the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor was a welcomed respite. The property is perched on the banks of the Nile and is a luxury 5-star property visited by dignitaries worldwide. We enjoyed shopping the streets of Luxor for infamous Egyptian cotton, jewelry, books and trinket souvenirs. Later in the evening we visited Luxor Temple. The majesty of lit temples at night is transcendental. There, massive statutes of Ramses II, Amenhotep, and King Tut tower, and the Avenue of the Sphinx, which connects Luxor and Karnak temples, is a breathtaking stretch of almost two miles of sphinx! Some are incredibly preserved while others have succumbed to the antics of playful children and traffic. Our second day in Luxor took us to the Valley of the Kings.
The Valley of the Kings is where almost all the pharaohs of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties were buried. There are 62 known tombs, so you are not only awed by what you see but by curiosity over what lays undiscovered and unexcavated! The tombs are sunk deep into the heart of the desert mountain and are reached by descending a long corridor to reach the sarcophagus of the mummy. The walls are adorned with sculptors and painted pictorial stories of the pharaoh’s life and prayers to after world deities. The paint itself was as amazing as the hieroglyphics and art. King Tut’s tomb was excavated from the Valley of the Kings.
We ended our afternoon sightseeing in Luxor with a visit to the magnificent Karnak Temple. A must-see for anyone visiting Egypt, Karnak is the largest religious building ever constructed and is actually a city of temples. Simplistically put, the temple(s) are dedicated to Amum, Mut, and Khonsu, King of Gods, Queen of Gods, and Moon God respectively.
Our day in Luxor was capped by an evening horse and carriage tour through the city to the Luxor Market Bazaar. The bazaar was a massive throng of shops and people all wanting to show their goods and chat. They were so happy to see us! On our way back to the Winter Palace, our carriage driver stopped by a local sugar cane juice factory where we sampled the nectar.
Our last day in Cairo after an early morning flight from Luxor. The Step Pyramid, the oldest known of Egypt’s 97 pyramids, is an architectural feat designed by the genius and ‘’ father of Architecture” Imhotep, whose tribute in the museum is as inspiring as the pyramid itself. From the Step Pyramid, we stopped by the Arab Republic of Egypt El Sultan Carpet School. Here we saw amazingly skilled workers transform threads of silk, wool, and cotton into oriental rugs the Middle East is famous for.
We spent the afternoon in Old Cairo, also called Coptic Cairo. We strolled past the famous Hanging Church which was built on top of the Fortress of Babylon and appears to be “suspended,” and the Citadel of Cairo whose walls were built to deter Crusaders. Upon reaching the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, from the Mosque we visited the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, the oldest Jewish synagogue in Egypt and supposedly the place where Moses was brought from the bulrushes. The final stop was at the Church of St. Sergius, one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt dating back to the 4th century. Mythology, Christianity, Islam and Judaism all abide harmoniously in
Egyptian artifacts. Incredibly uplifting! Before heading back to our hotel for a farewell dinner, we walked the Khan El Kahlili. The Khan El Kahlili is an intimidating labyrinth of shops. Here you can find anything from exotic treasures like antiques, copper, jewelry, and perfumes to souvenir trinkets.
Egypt fills you with passion, mystery, wonder, and respect, it is a trip worth taking now!
4 seasons travel inc
Virtuoso Specialist in the Art of Travel
18 marseilles st ste 1B
San Juan PR 00907