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The most famous remains of ancient Thebes is the rambling Karnak Temple. Within the temple, the Hypostyle Hall is a forest of massive columns, some 70-feet tall. The columns are covered in carvings detailing adventures of ancient kings. The columns were originally also covered in brilliant color, traces of which still remain in some areas.

 

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Take that Day Trip to Memphis

the colossal recumbent Ramesses II statue at Memphis, Egypt

the colossal recumbent Ramesses II statue at Memphis, Egypt

One of the most important cities of Ancient Egypt, Memphis was the capital of the unified country during the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods, which lasted about 1,000 years in the 3rd millennium BCE. (As a point of reference – the famous pyramids at Giza were built during the Old Kingdom.) The city was founded by Menes (or Narmer? it’s unclear, they may be one in the same), who united the country and became its first pharaoh.

Located at the head of the Nile delta in the north of the country, Memphis was a major port city and commercial and religious center and remained so, for thousands of years after the capital moved south to Thebes (Luxor today).

Alexander the Great took Egypt in 332BCE and made himself king in the great Temple of Ptah in Memphis. When he died 9 years later in Babylon, his body was brought to Memphis and later moved to Alexandria, the city he established on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. The location of his tomb is unknown today.

When Egypt became a Roman province in 30BCE, the commercial power of Memphis was eclipsed by Alexandria, which was more accessible to the rest of the empire.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century CE, the city’s status as religious center was finished and it descended into ruin.

the sphinx at Memphis, Egypt

the sphinx at Memphis, Egypt

Today, Memphis is an open-air museum with scattered remains, including numerous temples, palaces, statues and a sphinx. Memphis is about 12 miles south of Cairo and is usually visited in conjunction with Sakkara, the necropolis of Memphis and site of the Step Pyramid, less than 2 miles away. Most of our Egypt tours include a visit to Memphis.

Madam King: Hatshepsut of Egypt

Temple of Hatshepsut, near Luxor, Egypt

Temple of Hatshepsut, near Luxor, Egypt

Hatshepsut was the daughter of the early New Kingdom pharaoh Thutmose I and his queen. The only surviving son of Thutmose I was by a secondary wife. In terms of dynastic succession, this was not an ideal situation. Still, a son by a secondary wife, was better than a daughter by the queen. As was the custom, Hatshepsut married this son of a secondary wife, her 1/2 brother Thutmose II, and became his queen. Together, Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had one daughter, no sons. But Thutmose II did have a son with a lesser wife, just in the nick of time. When Thutmose II died, Queen Hatshepsut became regent for her infant stepson, Thutmose III. Continue reading

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Along the banks of the longest river on earth (or the 2nd longest, depending on who you ask), life proceeds much as it has for 8,000 years, at least. Until it was dammed in the early 19th century, the annual flooding of the river left rich silt in its wake and the fertile fields fed the country and exported wheat and other grains far beyond its borders. The cultural sophistication and political and economic power of the country’s ancient civilization can be directly linked to the river. Today, the river still provides almost all of the country’s water but dams control the flow and provide hydroelectric power.

 

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Karnak the Magnificent

What Luxor, Egypt attraction is the largest place of worship ever built?

It doesn’t take a wizard to proclaim the magnificence of Karnak Temple in Luxor. After the pyramids at Giza, it’s the 2nd most visited site in Egypt. It’s really a temple complex, with multiple temples added and embellished by a long series of pharaohs over the course of 2,000 years. It was known to the ancient Egyptians as The Most Sacred Place and is reputed to be the largest place of worship ever built anywhere.

Click to see Egypt tours that include visits to Karnak Temple. Continue reading

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Beautiful boxes inlaid with mother of pearl are a popular souvenir from our mystery country, and just one of countless items to be browsed in the streets of Khan el Khalili Bazaar. We recommend visiting with a guide and exploring beyond the touristy areas (where many products are made in China). A guide will help navigate the maze of small streets for a more authentic experience in this historical market and make sure you get what you pay for.

 

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This is the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple. It consists of 134 columns in an area of over 50,000 square feet. Most of the columns are 50 feet tall, but two rows of 6 columns flanking the central aisle are 80 feet tall and 30 feet in circumference. (!)
The hall was built around the 13th century BCE, an addition to the existing temple. Originally, a roof covered the hall, but it is long since open to the sky. (In architectural terms, a hypostyle indicates a space covered by a roof supported by columns.)

 

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