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

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

Upper Egypt: 5 Things to See & Do

Southern Egypt is called Upper Egypt because it’s upriver from northern (Lower) Egypt. The Nile is one of the rare rivers that flows northward, from central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.

Here are our suggestions of 5 things to see or do there:

KARNAK TEMPLE
Over 60 acres of colossal statues, obelisks, relief carvings of pharaonic adventures and pylon after pylon after pylon (10 in total) make up Karnak Temple. The Hypostyle Hall is Karnak’s most famous feature, where the central aisle is lined with 70-foot columns, backed on either side by a forest of 30-foot columns. It’s literally jaw dropping. Relief carvings cover the columns and traces of original paint are not hard to find, especially if you look up.

TEMPLE OF HATSHEPSUT
The mortuary temple of one of Ancient Egypt’s very few female pharaohs is located at the base of towering cliffs at Deir el-Bahri in the Theban necropolis, across the Nile from Luxor. It’s a stunning setting and the temple design is quite different from other Nile Valley temples.

VALLEY OF THE KINGS
A valley deep within the mountains on the west bank of the Nile, across from ancient Thebes (modern Luxor), holds the burial grounds of New Kingdom pharaohs, their families and members of the nobility. To date, over 60 tombs have been discovered in the Valley of the Kings. In many of the tombs, walls and ceilings are painted in scenes from the life of the tomb occupant, happy experiences to be carried into the afterlife, as well as prayers and spells. The way to the afterlife was treacherous; and tomb paintings envisioned a successful passage, with the help of various gods.

TEMPLE OF ISIS AT PHILAE
The temple of Isis, also known as Philae Temple, was originally located on Philae Island in the Nile. In the 1960s, Philae Island was largely submerged in the new Lake Nasser reservoir, so the temple was dismantled and moved to higher ground on Agilka Island. Nevertheless, the temple is still known as Philae.

FELUCCA RIDE
We don’t recommend swimming in the Nile. But a quiet sail on a traditional felucca will get you close enough to the water to dip your fingers.