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EYEWITNESS TRAVEL

TOP 10
CAIRO & THE NILE

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Spectacular tombs & pyramids


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Downtown LI Q S AR
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SHARIF

M OH A M M E D
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ABDEL
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MIDAN
MONEIM
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Mugamma MUSTAF
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Incredible Nile cruises


RIAD KAMEL
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Townhouse
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SQUARE
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Gallery
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Egyptian L NI
MIDAN
Mashrabiya TALAAT A L -Cosmopolitan
Museum Gallery Hotel 10 Unmissable museums
SHARIA
SHARIA

R HARB S
QA SH S HA R I A RUSHD
RIA A R IA
SHA Café
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SAB

Milestones in Egyptology
Riche RY
AR

SHA ABU
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RIA ALA
FA LA
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A L -B M Mohammed
U S TA
A L-

N Naguib
q SHAR 10 Thrilling outdoor activities
ARID

MIDAN AT-TA H R IR
IA
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A TAHRIR

10 Most fun places for children


10 Films set in Egypt
10 Best hotels for every budget
10 Restaurants, cafés & coffee shops
10 Insider tips for every visitor

YOUR GUIDE TO THE 10 BEST OF EVERYTHING


TOP 10
CAIRO &
THE NILE

ANDREW HUMPHREYS

EYEWITNESS TRAVEL
Contents

Left Smoking sheesha Centre Ibn Tulun Mosque, Cairo Right Tomb of Nakht, Tombs of the Nobles

Contents
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10
Reproduced by Colourscan, Singapore
Cairo & the Nile’s Highlights 6
Printed and bound in China by
Leo Paper Products Ltd. The Egyptian Museum 8
First published in Great Britain in 2009
by Dorling Kindersley Limited
The Pyramids of Giza 12
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL
A Penguin Company Mosque of Al-Azhar 14
11 12 13 14 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Karnak 16
Reprinted with revisions 2011
Copyright 2009, 2011 © Dorling
Kindersley Limited, London
Luxor Temple 20
All rights reserved. No part of this Temple of Hatshepsut 22
publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic, mechanical, Valley of the Kings 24
photocopying, recording or otherwise,
without the prior written permission of the Cruising the Nile 26
copyright owner.
A CIP catalogue record is available from the Temple of Philae 28
British Library.
ISBN 978 1 40536 100 2
Abu Simbel 30
Within each Top 10 list in this book, no Periods of Ancient
hierarchy of quality or popularity is implied.
All 10 are, in the editor’s opinion, Egyptian History 34
of roughly equal merit.
Ancient Egyptian Culture
and Myths 36
Temples 38
Milestones in Egyptology 40
The information in this DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide is checked regularly.
At the time of going to press there was major political upheaval in Cairo. Every effort has been
made to ensure that this book is as up-to-date as possible, but due to the rapidly changing
situation, some political information may have since altered. In addition, details such as telephone
numbers, opening hours, prices, gallery hanging arrangements and travel information are liable to
change. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of
this book, nor for any material on third party websites, and cannot guarantee that any website
address in this book will be a suitable source of travel information. We value the views and
suggestions of our readers very highly. Please write to: Publisher, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides,
Dorling Kindersley, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, Great Britain, or email: travelguides@dk.com.
Cover: Front – Photolibrary: age fotostock/Sylvain Grandadam main; DK Images: Rough Guides/Eddie Gerald
bl. Spine – DK Images: Eddie Gerald b. Back – DK Images: Eddie Gerald tc, tr; Jon Spaull tl.

2
Contents
Left Temple of Philae Centre View of Islamic Cairo Right Luxor Temple

Moments in Post- Beyond Cairo 90


Pharaonic History 42 Luxor 98
Islamic Architecture 44 Aswan and Lake Nasser 108
Museums 46
Streetsmart
Films Set in Egypt 48
Planning Your Trip 116
Historic Hotels 52
Getting There and Around 117
Souvenirs 54
Practical Information 118
Children’s Attractions 56
Etiquette 119
Egyptian Dishes 58
Things to Avoid 120
Restaurants 60
Security and Health 121
Festivals and Events 62
Shopping and Eating Tips 122
Icons of Popular Culture 64
Cruise Tips 123
Entertainment 66
Places to Stay 124
Around Cairo & the Nile Cruise Ships 133
Central Cairo 70 General Index 134
The Old City 82 Phrase Book 142

Left The Sphinx, Giza Right Felucca sailing on the Nile

Key to abbreviations 3
Adm admission charge
CAIRO &
THE NILE’S
TOP 10

CAIRO & THE NILE’S TOP 10


Cairo & the Nile’s
Highlights
6–7
The Egyptian Museum
8–11
The Pyramids of Giza
12–13
Mosque of Al-Azhar
14–15
Karnak
16–19
Luxor Temple
20–21
Temple of Hatshepsut
22–23
Valley of the Kings
24–25
Cruising the Nile
26–27
Temple of Philae
28–29
Abu Simbel
30–31
Top 10 of Everything
34–67
Cairo & the Nile’s Highlights
The Nile is synonymous with Egypt. Almost the entire population of the
country is crammed onto the narrow fertile plain fringing the river. It was so
during the ancient Egyptian era, when the temples and cities of the pharaohs
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

rarely strayed far from the life-sustaining area of the Nile’s banks. Today, the
best way to experience Egypt is to explore the Nile, from the awe-inspiring
Pyramids on the outskirts of the capital of Cairo in the north, to the
great temples in the far south of the country.

Egyptian
Museum !
This is one of the
world’s greatest
museums, not least
for the treasures in
the Tutankhamun
galleries, but for the
exhibits from every
period of ancient
Egyptian history. It has
@ The Pyramids of Giza
The only survivor of the Seven
been calculated that if a
visitor were to spend just
Wonders of the Ancient World, one minute at each item, it
the Great Pyramid and its two would take more than nine
companions are no less wondrous months to see everything
now than they were when they (see pp8–11).
were built four and a half
millennia ago (see pp12–13).

Mosque of Al-Azhar
In addition to the£
monuments of the pharaohs,
Egypt has an unrivalled wealth of
historic Islamic architecture
stretching back to the 7th century.
The Mosque of Al-Azhar in Cairo
is one of the jewels of this
heritage (see pp14–15).

$ Karnak
The mother of all ancient Egyptian temple
complexes, Karnak was the powerbase of
successive dynasties of pharaohs and the
priesthood at the zenith of ancient Egypt’s
military and artistic might (see pp16–19).

Luxor Temple
Once connected to %
Karnak by an avenue
of sphinxes, Luxor is
more modest in size
than Karnak, but was
built by two of the
greatest pharaohs,
Amenhotep III
and Ramses II
(see pp20–21).

6 Preceding pages Colossus of Ramses II, Abu Simbel


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Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


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^ Temple of Hatshepsut
Among the many monuments at
&$,52 
Luxor, the temple of Egypt’s only
female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, stands
6XH]
6DTTDUD out for its almost modernistic design of

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+HOZDQ ascending terraces (see pp22–3).
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& Valley
Kings
of the


%HQL6XHI  The treasures are long


gone from the tombs of
the pharaohs, but it is


possible to descend the


dimly-lit passageways to


 underground chambers
decorated with vivid
0LQ\D
scenes from the afterlife
(see pp24–5).
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 Cruising the Nile
4XV
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When Cleopatra romanced *
Caesar she did so on a cruise
down the Nile. It remains the
/X[RU most romantic and enjoyable way
to view Egypt (see pp26–7).
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(GIX


.RP2PER

$VZDQ
Abu Simbel
) This is perhaps
8FTUFSO
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the temple that best
.DOÃEVKD
symbolizes the grandeur
of ancient Egypt. The


Sun Temple is carved


out of a mountainside Temple of Philae
and fronted by four
-BLF
/BTTFS A mix of Egyptian and (
towering colossi Roman elements characterize
of its builder, this temple complex sited on a
Ramses II picturesque island in the middle
(see pp30–31). of the Nile (see pp28–9).

7
Egyptian Museum
All of ancient Egyptian history is here, from the earliest Pharaonic artefact
ever discovered to treasures from the era of Cleopatra, the last in a dynastic
sequence of divine kings and queens stretching over three millennia. It is said
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

that the museum displays more than 120,000 items, with at least that many
again stored away out of sight in the basement. The real crowd pleasers are
the treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb, but there are many hundreds of
other precious antiquities here of at least equal significance and beauty.

Top 10 Features
1 The Museum Building
£ Central Hall
The museum is on two
floors. On the lower floor
2 Auguste Mariette galleries are arranged in
3 Central Hall chronological order
4 Old Kingdom Galleries clockwise around a
5 New Kingdom Galleries central hall dedicated
6 Amarna Room to large statuary; this
Central hall
is also where you
7 Tutankhamun Galleries will find the
The museum fills up
8 The Royal Mummies Narmer Palette
fast and it is best to
9 Animal Mummies (see p10).
arrive early to beat
the worst of the 0 Ancient Egyptian
4 3
crowds. There is an Jewellery Rooms
extra charge to take
your camera inside.
! The Museum
Building
There is a café on Egypt’s first national
the ground floor museum of antiquities
overlooking the opened in 1863. It was
museum’s garden. rehoused in the current
pink, purpose-built premises
• Map F3 in 1902, which were
• Midan Tahrir, designed in Neo-Classical
Downtown, Cairo style by French architect
• 02 2578 2448 Marcel Dourgnon.
• Open 9am–6pm
• Adm £E60; Royal
Mummy Room adm
@ Auguste Mariette
The Egyptologist
£E100 Mariette, who discovered
the Serapeum at Saqqara
(see p40), was the founder
of the first national
museum of antiquities
in Egypt. His sarcophagus
rests in the garden in
front of the Egyptian $ Old Kingdom
Galleries
Museum (below). Immediately to the left
of the entrance hall, these
galleries contain artefacts
from the era of the
Pyramid builders. Particularly
beautiful are three slate
triads each depicting
Menkaure, builder of the
smallest of the Giza
pyramids, flanked by two
goddesses (above).

8 For highlights of ancient Egyptian history see pp34–5


% New Kingdom
Galleries ^ Amarna Room
Room 3 contains
This long gallery (see pieces from Amarna, the
exhibit left) is devoted to short-lived capital of the
the mightiest pharaohs, “heretic king” Akhenaten
including Tuthmosis III, (see pp35 & 107). His

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


Amenhotep II and daughter, Princess Meri-
Ramses II, during whose taten, is characterized by
rules Egypt expanded its an elongated face and full
borders south into what lips (below).
is now Sudan and north
to the Euphrates.
Key
Ground floor

First floor
7
6
0
5

& Tutankhamun
Galleries
Almost half of the upper
floor is devoted to some
of the vast number of
items excavated from
9 the tomb of Egypt’s
famed boy-king (left),
which range from
everyday items such
as gaming sets and
footstools to the giant
8 gilded shrines and
sarcophagi that fitted
one inside the other
* The Royal
Mummies
like Russian dolls.

The desiccated bodies of


Goodbye Tut
some of Egypt’s mightiest
rulers are displayed in two ( Animal Mummies
The ancient Egyptians A new Grand Egyptian
rooms on the upper floor mummified animals as Museum is currently
of the museum. Of the well as people. This room under construction
eleven royals present, the on the upper floor of the close to the Pyramids.
most famous are Seti I museum is full of animal When finished in late
and his son Ramses II, mummies, from cats, 2012 it will house
whose colossi adorn a mice and fish to many of the items
great many monuments crocodiles, sacred to currently displayed at
in Upper Egypt. the god Sobek. the existing Egyptian
Museum, including
) Ancient Egyptian
Jewellery Rooms
the treasures of
Tutankhamun. The
These two rooms contain museum on Tahrir
dazzling examples of Square will remain
royal jewellery from the open to the public as a
New Kingdom period collection of highlights,
(left). Many of these offering an introduction
items were discovered in to the ancient Egyptian
1939 at Tanis, an ancient world of the pharaohs.
site in the Delta region.

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 9


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Statue of Ka-Aper Centre Detail of Tutankhamun’s Lion Throne Right Detail of Narmer Palette

Egyptian Museum Masterpieces


known as Menes) wearing the
White Crown of Upper Egypt
and on the reverse, wearing
the Red Crown of Lower Egypt.
Historians interpret this to
represent the unification of the
two main tribes of Egypt under
one ruler, making Narmer the
founder of the 1st Dynasty and
first king of all Egypt. This is
when ancient Egypt started.

# Statue of Ka-Aper
Egyptian art is not usually
Statues of Prince Rahotep and Nofret associated with realism, but
so lifelike is this 5th-Dynasty

! Prince Rahotep and His


Wife Nofret
wooden statue of the plump
priest Ka-Aper that the workmen
Dominating Room 32 in the who discovered it at Saqqara in
Old Kingdom Galleries are the 1860 nicknamed him Sheikh
twin life-sized, limestone statues al-Balad (“Head of the Village”)
of two seated royals of the 4th because of the resemblance to
Dynasty. The pair lived four and their own headman. The eyes
a half millennia ago, but the are extraordinary and are
statues’ small details, such outlined in copper with
as the princess’s real whites of opaque quartz
fringe poking out from and rock crystals as pupils.
under her wig and her
elegant white dress, bring
them back to life. The $ Head of Nefertiti
The best-known bust
statues were discovered of Nefertiti is held by
by the museum’s founder, the Berlin Museum but
Mariette, at Meidum the unpainted quartzite
in 1871. sculpture displayed in
the Amarna Room of the

@ Narmer Palette Sculpture of the Egyptian Museum is


Dating from 3,000 BC, head of Nefertiti also a masterpiece.
the Narmer Palette has Although unfinished,
been called the “first historical it is a magnificent work and,
document in the world”. It is a in contrast to the almost gro-
flat plate of greenish stone tesque depictions of her husband,
carved with designs that on one Akhenaten, the queen is shown
side show King Narmer (also as a wholly human beauty.

10
% Statuette
(Cheops)
of Khufu peasants netting fish from
a boat, cattle being driven
Ironically, the only portrait past scribes recording their
of the builder of the famed number, a platoons of soldiers
Great Pyramid at Giza, the of different ethnicities.

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


4th-Dynasty king, Khufu, is a Together they offer an
tiny ivory statuette just 7 cm invaluable insight into the
(3 inches) high. It depicts the daily life of the humble
king sitting on his throne ancient Egyptian.
wearing a long robe and the
crown of Lower Egypt and
was found in a temple at ( Mask of Thuya
Discovered in 1905, the
Abydos in Middle Egypt. tomb of Yuya and Thuya
It now sits on its own in (see p40) has always been
a cabinet in Room 37. overshadowed by the discovery
of the tomb of their great-
Tutankhamun’s Lion
^ Throne
grandson, Tutankhamun. It
contained many beautiful
There are around 1,700 funerary artefacts including a
items in the galleries A Middle striking funerary mask of
devoted to the treasures of Kingdom model gilded plaster with inlaid
Tutankhamun. It is easy to glass and quartz.
be overwhelmed, but don’t miss
Fayoum Portraits
the Lion Throne. Its wooden
frame is wrapped in sheets ) In Room 14 on the first floor
of gold and silver inlaid with are these life-like portraits dating
semiprecious stones, faïence from the period of Roman rule
and coloured glass. On the back in Egypt (30 BC–395 AD). They
of the throne the young king sits represent some of the world’s
under the rays of Aten (the sun) earliest portraiture. Painted on
in a style derived from Amarna. wooden boards during the
subject’s lifetime, they were at
Tutankhamun’s Death
& Mask
death laid over the face of the
mummified corpse before it was
In a museum full of magnificence, placed into its sarcophagus.
the life-sized gold death mask of
Tutankhamun remains the show
stopper and the most famous
example of ancient Egyptian craft-
manship. It originally covered the
head of the mummy and is an
idealized portrait of the pharaoh.
The gold of the headdress is
interspersed with lapis lazuli and
topped by a cobra that spits at
the pharaoh’s enemies.

* Middle Kingdom Models


Several rooms on the west
wing of the upper floor contain
finely detailed models from the
11th Dynasty. These include A Fayoum portrait

Some of these items may be transferred to the new Grand Egyptian 11


Museum under construction at Giza, due to open in late 2012.
The Pyramids of Giza
Despite centuries of study, the Pyramids remain a mystery. There’s their age:
we are closer in time to the era of Jesus Christ than he was to the Pyramids.
There’s their size: for 4,000 years the Great Pyramid remained the tallest man-
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

made structure ever built. There’s the how: the Pyramids are precisely placed,
their sides aligning to true north with only 3/60th a degree of error, while
certain internal air shafts line up perfectly with celestial constellations. And, of
course, there’s the why: merely tombs for pharaohs or something much more?

Top 10 Features
1 Giza Plateau
2 The Sphinx
3 Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops)
4 Pyramid of Khafre (Chepren)
Sound and Light Show 5 Pyramid of Menkaure
Plan on spending at (Mycerinus)
least half a day at the 6 Solar Boat Museum
Pyramids, which are 7 Inside the Pyramids
best visited early in 8 Khafre’s Valley Temple
the morning before 9 Camel Rides
the heat and crowds
0 Sound and Light Show
become too
overwhelming.

There are plenty of


shops and cafés in
the small village
by the Sphinx.

• Map H2
• Sharia al-Ahram, Giza,
# Pyramid
(Cheops)
of Khufu

Giza Plateau Also known simply as the


12 km (8 miles) SW of
Cairo • 02 3383 8823
! Around 2600 BC the Great Pyramid, this is the
rocky Giza plateau (above) tallest and oldest of the trio.
• Bus 800, 900 from
became the burial ground It was built during the reign
Midan Tahrir • Giza
(necropolis) for Memphis, of Khufu (2589–2566 BC)
Plateau open 8am–5pm
then the capital of Egypt. In and originally stood 140 m
(until 6pm in summer);
less than a century during (460 ft) high and measured
Sound and Light Show:
the Old Kingdom three 230 m (750 ft) along its base.
6:30pm, 7:30pm (1 or 2
successive generations built These measurements are
hours later in summer) –
the three great Pyramids less now due to the removal
as schedules are subject
and associated structures. of the outer casing of stone.
to change, check at ticket
office near Sphinx,
The Sphinx
www.soundandlight.
com.eg • Giza Plateau
Its age is a point of @
contention, but the
£E80; Solar Boat
traditional view is that the
Museum £E50; Pyramid
Sphinx (right) was sculpted
of Khufu £E200; Pyramid
around 2500 BC by Khafre
of Khafre £E60; Pyramid
and that it is his face –
of Menkaure £E60
now minus a nose – that
fronts the leonine body. It
also once had a beard, and
parts of this are now in the
Egyptian Museum and
the British Museum.

12 Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com


$ Pyramid of Khafre
(Chephren) % Pyramid
Menkaure
of

Slightly smaller than (Mycerinus) 3


Khufu’s pyramid, the This pyramid’s base area
Pyramid of Khafre often is less than a quarter of
seems bigger by virtue of that of the other two, but 6

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


being sited on higher its temples are more 4
ground. Its summit retains elaborate. This is perhaps 2
the smooth limestone a sign of the waning 8 0
casing that originally power of the pharaoh as 5
covered the whole of well as a shift in priorities
the three pyramids. in funerary architecture.

^ Solar
Museum
Boat

A pod-shaped structure by
the Great Pyramid contains
a full-size ancient Egyptian
boat (above), recovered
from a pit sunk around
the pyramid. It may have
& Inside the
Pyramids
been intended to allow
the pharaoh to accompany
Entering the Pyramids the sun-god on his daily
involves ascending and journey across the
descending steeply- heavens, hence the name.
sloping, low-ceilinged
passageways, and is
not recommended for the Pyramid Evolution
claustrophobic. The first tombs were
( Camel Rides
Local entrepreneurs Khafre’s Valley
mastabas (low, flat-

offer camel rides near the * Temple


topped buildings). The
first pyramid, Djoser’s
Pyramids (above). The site Each pyramid was part of Stepped Pyramid at
is small enough that you a greater funerary complex Saqqara, was formed of
don’t need a ride but it can beginning with a valley six mastabas on top of
be fun. Be prepared to temple. The remains of each other. The first
haggle hard over the price. that of Khafre (below) are smooth-sided pyramid
near the Sphinx. (at Meidum on the edge
) Sound and
Light Show
of the Fayoum Oasis)
was achieved by filling
Every evening there are in the steps of a
two one-hour shows in stepped pyramid. The
which the history of next stage was purpose-
ancient Egypt is related built smooth-sided
by the “voice of the pyramids, prototyped
Sphinx” whilst lights play at Dahshur (see p91).
across the Pyramids.

13
Mosque of Al-Azhar
Al-Azhar was founded in AD 970 as the city’s main mosque and centre
of learning and to this day its institutions remain central to religious and
political life in Egypt. Al-Azhar University is still one of the most revered
centres of learning in the Sunni Islamic world, although teaching has long
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

since left the mosque and now takes place in several modern campuses
around the country. The mosque is a favourite venue for political
demonstrations, often of an anti-government nature, particularly following
noon prayers on a Friday.
Top 10 Features
1 Gate of the Barbers
2 The Madrassas
3 Courtyard
4 Prayer Hall
5 The Minarets
6 Midan al-Hussein
7 Khan al-Khalili
8 Beit Zeinab Khatoun and
View from the courtyard Beit al-Harawi
showing a minaret
9 Wikala of Al-Ghouri
Non-Muslims are 0 Mosque of Sayyidna
welcome to visit the al-Hussein
mosque but must be
dressed appropriately:
this means no shorts
or bare shoulders.
! Gate of the Barbers
Entrance to the
mosque is via a double-
Women must cover arched gate (below), dating
their hair with a scarf from the 15th century,
and everybody must where students traditionally
remove their shoes. had their heads shaved,

Avoid the mosque on


hence the name.
£ Courtyard
Al-Azhar Mosque
Friday afternoons has undergone a series
when the crowd is of enlargements and
often fired up by restorations throughout its
political speeches. history, and all styles and
periods of history are
There are plenty represented in its archi-
of cafés and coffee
tecture. The courtyard (sahn)
is one of the oldest parts
shops in the nearby
(main image). Its arcades
Khan al-Khalili area.
are carried on salvaged
pre-Islamic columns.
• Map J4
• Sharia al-Azhar, The Madrassas
Al-Hussein district, Cairo Inside the main gate @
• Open 7:30am–7:30pm are two madrassas (places
Mon–Thu & Sun; 7:30– of religious study) dating
11am, 3–5pm Fri. Official from the early 14th century
tourist visiting times: (right). The madrassa on
9am–5pm (until 6pm in the left is usually open and
summer); closed to has a beautiful ornate mihrab
visitors Fri noon prayers. (niche indicating the direction
of prayer towards Mecca).

14 For more on the etiquette of visiting mosques see p119


6.,

$ Prayer Hall
The large, carpeted
6$1
$ ' ,4
,<$ 7
0
alabaster-pillared prayer
hall has five aisles and a 6 6+$
5 ,$ $
transept that runs directly / $ =+ $5 /
+ $5 ,$ $
from the courtyard to the

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


mihrab (left). 3
1 2
9 5
% The Minarets
Al-Azhar has five imposing minarets. 4
Its three main minarets overlooking the 8
courtyard date, from north to south, from
AD 1340, 1469 and 1510.
^ Midan al-Hussein
This square, on
the opposite side of
the main road from
Al-Azhar mosque, is a
major gathering place,
particularly during
holidays, feast days and
saints days (moulids).

& Khan al-Khalili


Adjacent to Al-Azhar is
Cairo’s main souq area,
Khan al-Khalili (above). Its
( Wikala of Al-Ghouri
Just west of * Beit Zeinab
Khatoun and
maze of narrow, medieval
alleyways is crammed
Al-Azhar mosque is Beit al-Harawi with small stalls and
this 16th-century former To the east of Al-Azhar shops selling spices,
merchants’ hostel (wikala). mosque are two restored perfumes, gold and silver.
The beautifully restored Ottoman-era houses (beit),
structure now serves as showing the fine domestic
the venue for perform- architecture that once
City of Minarets
ances by a troupe of filled the city (below). The Cairo skyline bears
whirling dervishes. They are now used for a distinctive signature
hosting cultural events. composed of hundreds
Mosque of
) Sayyidna al-
of minarets. The most
beautiful of these,
Hussein largely dating from the
Just north of Al-Azhar is Mamluk period (1250–
the holiest mosque in 1517), have stonework
Egypt, which supposedly adorned with intricate
shelters one of the most decorative carving.
sacred relics of Islam – Many of the minarets
the head of Al-Hussein, can be climbed for
grandson of the Prophet superb views across
Mohammed. Non-Muslims the city rooftops.
are not allowed to enter.

15
Karnak
Even more so than the Pyramids of Giza, Karnak is Egypt’s most important
Pharaonic site. Throughout the Middle and New Kingdom eras, when ancient
Egypt was at its pinnacle, Karnak was the country’s powerbase. It was the
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

home of the gods and the seat of the pharaoh and the priestly ruling caste.
For over 1,300 years the complex was constantly expanded, and its scale is
immense, incorporating countless courts, halls and temples. Almost every
pharaoh of note has left their mark.

Top 10 Features
1 Avenue of Sphinxes
2 Precinct of Amun
3 Temple of Amun
4 Open-Air Museum
Pylon of the Temple 5 Temple of Khonsu
of Khonsu
6 Sacred Lake
Only a part of the 7 Cachette Court
vast site is accessible
8 Seventh and Eighth Pylons
to visitors and
9 Precinct of Montu
excavations are
still ongoing. 0 Sound and Light Show

There is little shade,


so be sure to wear
a hat and carry a
bottle of water.
Allow at least half
a day to explore,
if not longer.

There is a café by
the Sacred Lake
! Avenue of Sphinxes
The site is approached
selling tea, soft via a short avenue of
drinks and snacks. sphinxes (above) that
originally connected the
entrance pylon with a dock
• Map Z4
fed by a canal from the
• Sharia al-Karnak, 3 km
Nile. On the south side of
(2 miles) NE of Luxor
• Open 6am–5pm in
winter, 7am–6pm
Karnak is another partial
sphinx avenue, which once £ Temple of Amun
The heart of Karnak
connected with Luxor is the Temple of Amun
in summer
Temple (see pp20–21). (below), spanning thirteen
• General site adm £E65
centuries. The scale is vast,
• Open-Air Museum
adm £E25 (separate
ticket required, which
@ Precinct of Amun
The Karnak complex has
consisting of a succession
of pylons, courts, colonnades
three main compounds. The and chambers arranged along
must be bought before
grandest precinct, dedicated a central axis (see pp18–19).
entering the complex)
to Amun, lies at the centre,
• Sound and Light Show:
dominated by the huge
6:30pm, 7:45pm, 9pm
Temple of Amun. It contains
in winter; 8pm, 9.15pm,
a Sacred Lake and a
10:30pm in summer;
series of pylons arranged
£E100; languages vary,
perpendicular to the main
check details on www.
temple. The pylons lead to
soundandlight.com.eg
the adjacent Precinct of Mut,
which is closed to visitors.

16 For more on the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt see p37
Open-Air 9
Museum $
Situated within the 4
Precinct of Amun, the
museum contains a fine
collection of statuary 3
1

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


(right) and monuments
7
discovered during an 6
excavation of the Third 2
Pylon of the Temple of 8
Amun. A separate ticket is
required for the museum. 5

% Temple of Khonsu
This small temple in ^ Sacred Lake
Priests purified
the Precinct of Amun, themselves in the holy
dedicated to the son of water of the Sacred Lake
Amun, was mostly built (below) before performing
by Ramses II and IV. rituals in the temple.
Next to it is a smaller Nearby is a giant stone
temple to Opet, the scarab of Khepri, god of
hippopotamus goddess. the dawning sun.

* Seventh and
Eighth Pylons & Cachette Court
The Cachette Court
A succession of courts gets its name from the
and pylons runs south discovery of a hoard of
from the Cachette Court. some 900 stone statues
The first of these, the here, the finest of which
Seventh Pylon, is are now in the Luxor and
ascribed to Tuthmosis III, Cairo museums.
and two partial colossi of
( Precinct of Montu
The warrior god Montu
him sit in the courtyard
beyond. The well-preserved The Theban Triad
was the god of Karnak. His Eighth Pylon was probably The three dominant
precinct, north of that of constructed during the Egyptian gods in the
Amun, contains temples reign of Hatshepsut. area of Thebes (modern-
to both Montu and Amun. day Luxor) were Amun,
Both temples are currently the all-powerful god to
closed to the public. whom Karnak is
dedicated, his consort
Sound and
Light Show ) Mut and their son
Khonsu. Together they
A dramatized history of form the Theban triad.
Karnak is related three Mut was said to swallow
times nightly with an the sun in the evening
accompanying light (sunset) and to give
show (right). It is viewed birth to it again in the
from a grandstand morning (sunrise).
beside the Sacred Lake.

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 17


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Carving inside the Great Festival Temple Right Wall carving on the Great Hypostyle Hall

Karnak: Temple of Amun


! First Pylon
The massive First Pylon makes
leads to a hall lined with pillars in
the form of Ramses III, the last
a suitably magnificent entrance pharaoh to wield any substantial
to Karnak. At 130 m (416 ft) in power in Egypt.
width, it is the largest pylon in
Egypt. Look up to the right and
in the doorjamb it is possible to
make out inscriptions of Karnak’s
vital statistics and the distances
to other temples in Upper Egypt,
carved by Napoleonic surveyors.

@ Shrine of Seti II
Immediately inside the First Temple of Ramses III
Pylon on the left is the Shrine
of Seti II. It is composed of three
small chapels for the placing of % Great Hypostyle Hall
Karnak’s stunning Hypostyle
the sacred barques (boats) of Hall is a forest of 134 immense
Amun, Mut and Khonsu. They columns, set out in rows. Each of
each have niches at the rear that the central 12 columns is 21 m
would once have contained (69 ft) tall and it takes six adults
statues of the deities. with outstretched arms to encircle
each column. The immense hall

# Colossus of Ramses II
Ramses II was the great
would originally have been roofed
and peopled with statues.
warrior pharaoh who built some
of ancient Egypt’s most
spectacular monuments, ^ Obelisks of Hatshepsut
Two rose-granite obelisks,
including the Ramesseum 27 m (89 ft) high were erected
(see p100) and the Sun by Hatshepsut. Only one
Temple at Abu Simbel (see stands, defaced and wrapped
pp30–31). His imposing around by a wall, an act of
pink-granite statue, with revenge by her long-
one of his daughters at his frustrated successor to the
feet, stands in front of the throne, Tuthmosis III. Smashed
Second Pylon. sections of the obelisk’s twin
lie around the temple.

$ Temple of Ramses III


This is a miniature
& Great Festival Temple
version of Ramses III’s grand Built by Tuthmosis III, the
temple at Medinat Habu Great Festival Temple has
(see p100). Two colossi Colossus of unusual tent pole-shaped
flank the entrance, which Ramses II columns whose capitals

18
Key Pharaohs who
Ruled from Karnak
The Temple Priests
Ancient Egyptian priests, such as those of Karnak,
1 Tuthmosis I were known as “hem-netjer”, literally “servants of the
2 Hatshepsut god or goddess”, responsible for performing the daily

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


3 Tuthmosis III rituals that regulated the workings of the universe.
4 Amenhotep III The high priest was responsible for the honouring of
5 Tutankhamun the god within its shrine. Twice daily the “cult” statue
6 Horemheb was bathed and clothed before receiving offerings of
7 Ramses I food and drink. Incense was burnt and holy water from
8 Seti I the Sacred Lake scattered to show the purity of the
9 Ramses II offerings. Priests were not necessarily wholly religious –
0 Ramses III some were teachers; others attended to the economic
organization of the temple. Although the Temple of
Amun was the residence of the god, it also included
workshops, libraries and administrative areas.

Statue of Amun
The god Amun became
the most powerful of
gods during the New
Kingdom era when he
was depicted as a human. Relief depicting the god Thoth in the Temple of Amun

have blue and white chevrons. colonnades of several shrines


Saints painted on some columns dedicated to lesser gods. These
are evidence of the hall’s use as a were where the general populace,
church during early Christian times. who were excluded from the
Precinct of Amun, came to have

* Botanical Garden
On the east side of the Great
their petitions transmitted to
the great Theban gods via
Festival Temple is a roofless intermediary deities.
enclosure known as the Botanical
Garden for its painted reliefs of
plants and animals. Beside this is ) Lateran Obelisk
Behind the Hearing Ear
a small roofed chamber from the chapels is a pedestal on which
time of Alexander the Great, once stood Egypt’s tallest obelisk
who is shown in relief standing (31 m/102 ft). It was completed
before Amun and other deities. in the reign of Tuthmosis IV. Some
1,700 years later the Byzantine

( Chapels of the Hearing Ear


Straddling the main temple’s
Emperor Constantius II (r. AD 337–
361) had the obelisk moved to
enclosure wall at the rear of the Rome, where it still stands in the
complex are the ruined halls and Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano.

19
Luxor Temple
Set close to the bank of the Nile and in the centre of the modern town, Luxor
Temple is quite literally unmissable. It is an elegant, compact complex, as unlike
Karnak, it is largely the work of a single pharaoh, Amenhotep III, with just a
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

few additions made during the reign of Ramses II. The site was occupied by
a Roman camp in the 3rd century AD but was subsequently abandoned and
became engulfed in silt and sand on top of which a village was built. It
remained thus until the late 19th century when excavations began.

Top 10 Features
1 Avenue of Sphinxes
2 Obelisk
3 First Pylon
4 Court of Ramses II
5 Abu al-Haggag Mosque
6 Colonnade of Amenhotep III
7 Court of Amenhotep III
8 Hypostyle Hall
9 Roman Paintings
Obelisk in front of the 0 Inner Sanctum
main pylon

Impressive by day,
Luxor Temple is
also supremely
atmospheric by night
when it is beautifully
lit. Aim to visit late in
the afternoon, then
stay until dusk. £ First Pylon
The entrance is a 24-m
(79-ft) high pylon (main
There are no image), added by Ramses II,
refreshments sold on which serves as a poster for
site but water sellers his achievements. It is
congregate around
the entrance to the
! Avenue of Sphinxes
Leading to the temple
decorated with scenes of
his military triumphs, such
temple, and there are is a procession of sphinxes as the Battle of Qadesh.
(above) that once ran from
several cafés on the
Corniche nearby.
here to the Precinct of Mut
at Karnak. Almost all of the $ Court of Ramses II
Beyond the pylon, this
route was deeply buried court has a double row of
• Map Y2 under the modern town but papyrus-bud columns,
• Corniche al-Nil, Luxor is slowly being uncovered. interspersed with more
• Open 6am–9pm (until statues of Ramses II (below).
10pm in summer)
• General site adm £E50 @ Obelisk
Standing before the
temple’s main pylon are
two seated colossi of
Ramses II and a pink
granite obelisk. The obelisk
was originally one of a pair
but the other was removed
in the early 19th century
and re-erected in the Place
de la Concorde, Paris, as a
gift to France.

20 For more information on the gods and goddesses of


ancient Egypt see p37
0
9
% Abu al-Haggag
Mosque
8
Perched on top of the 7
colonnade of the Court
of Ramses is this much
rebuilt 13th-century

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


mosque (left) dedicated 6
to Luxor’s patron saint.
It is all that is left of the
village that was cleared
to reveal the temple in
4
the 1880s.

5
3 3
2
1
Colonnade of
^ Amenhotep III
Guarded by more giant
statues of Ramses II, the
original part of the
temple begins with a
majestic avenue of
14 columns (below). The
walls here depict the
annual Opet Festival.

* Hypostyle Hall
The southern side of & Court of
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep’s fine court This court is noted for its
merges into a hypostyle double rows of towering
hall with 32 more papyrus papyrus-bundle columns.
columns. Between the In 1989 a cache of 22
last two columns to the New Kingdom statues
left of the central aisle is was discovered here, and
a Roman altar dedicated they are now on display The Opet Festival
to Emperor Constantine. in the Luxor Museum. Once a year during
the flood season,
Roman Paintings
Beyond the Hypostyle ( the Festival of Opet
celebrated the
Hall are a series of small pharaoh’s rebirth as
antechambers. In the first the son of Amun.
of these the Romans Images of the Theban
plastered over the Triad (see p17) were
Pharaonic reliefs, covering carried from Karnak on
them with imperial cult boats (barques) to
paintings (right). Luxor Temple. Luxor
stages a recreation
) Inner Sanctum
The heart of the temple is the Sanctuary of the
of the festival in
November each year
Sacred Barque, where Amun’s barque ended its (check dates with the
journey from Karnak during the annual Opet Festival. tourist office on 095
Beyond this is a small damaged sanctuary that once 2373 294).
housed a golden statue of Amun.

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Temple of Hatshepsut
This is the most intriguing of the temples and tombs on Luxor’s West Bank,
partly due to the breathtaking spectacle it presents – a series of sweeping
terraces set against a vertiginous mountain backdrop – and partly because
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

the temple was built for the only woman to reign over Egypt as pharaoh.
When her husband Tuthmosis II died young, Hatshepsut became regent to
her step-son Tuthmosis III, later usurping him altogether to take the crown
for herself. She reigned from 1473 until 1458 BC.

Top 10 Features
1 Courtyard Approach
2 Courtyard Colonnade
3 Lower Terrace
4 Chapel of Anubis
5 Reliefs of Punt Expedition
6 Birth Colonnade
7 Chapel of Hathor
Head of Hatshepsut 8 Statues of Hatshepsut
9 Upper Terrace
The West Bank
0 Temple of Montuhotep
becomes extremely
hot and there is
hardly any shade at ! Courtyard Approach
Missing from the
Hatshepsut’s temple, reconstructed temple is the
so visit as early in avenue of sphinxes and the
the day as possible gardens planted with myrrh
when the sun is trees; only the stumps of
still low. two 3,500-year-old trees
remain near the site barriers.
There is a handful of
pricey stalls selling
water, soft drinks and
@ Courtyard
Colonnade £ Lower Terrace
Reached by a
biscuits near the The lowest of the temple’s processional ramp, the
entrance to the
colonnades depicts scenes Lower Terrace would, like
of fish and birds being the Courtyard below, once
temple site.
caught in nets and the have been planted with
queen’s two great obelisks trees. Vast and bare, the
• Map V2 being transported from interest for visitors now lies
• 2 km (1 mile) NE of Aswan to Karnak. in the colonnades at the
the West Bank ticket rear and their carved reliefs.
kiosk, Luxor
• Open 6am–5pm $ Chapel of Anubis
On the Lower Terrrace, this chapel has brightly
(until 6pm in summer) coloured murals, including a relief of Tuthmosis III making
• General site adm £E35 offerings to the sun god Ra-Harakhty (below).

22 For more information on the gods and goddesses of


ancient Egypt see p37
08
Reliefs of 9
Punt Expedition % 7
Splendid reliefs (right)
depict Hatshepsut’s 5 6 4
journey on a trading
expedition to the Land

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


of Punt (present day
Somalia), meeting
with the king and 3
queen of Punt and
returning with
lavish goods.
2
1
Birth Colonnade
^ Scenes along the
Birth Colonnade delicately
portray the divine birth of
Hatshepsut, a sequence
designed to legitimize
the queen’s claim to
the throne.

& Chapel of Hathor


This chapel is noted
Statues of for its Hathor-headed
* Hatshepsut columns (above). At the
The columns of the portico back, there is a carved
around the Upper Terrace relief of Hathor in the
were decorated with form of a cow licking
statues of Hatshepsut Hatshepsut’s hand.
represented as a male king
with a beard (left). Most She Reigned
were destroyed but some
have been reconstructed.
When?
While having the
Upper Terrace outward appearance
On this level ( of a precise science,
(right), there are more much about Egyptology
reliefs, including is best guesswork.
oarsmen rowing the Precise dates of the
royal barque. At the Egyptian dynasties
rear is the Sanctuary and of individual
of Amun, dug into the reigns are still the
cliff behind the temple. subject of much
scholarly debate,

) Temple of Montuhotep
The prototype for Hatshepsut’s temple is the
and details such as
these can vary
earlier Temple of Montuhotep II, which lies in ruins quite significantly
immediately adjacent to the north. Montuhotep was between sources.
the first pharaoh to choose to be buried at Thebes.

23
Valley of the Kings
During the greatest period of ancient Egyptian history almost every pharaoh was
buried here in tombs hewn into the rock and decorated with extraordinary art. To
date, 63 tombs have been discovered and there may still be more to come,
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

making this the richest archaeological site on earth. The numbers assigned to the
tombs (given here in brackets) represent the order in which they were discovered,
but a better way to approach the valley is to visit the tombs in the order in which
they were constructed, as they are presented here. In this way it is possible to
witness the flowering and eventual decline of ancient Egyptian tomb art.
Top 10 Features
1 Tomb of Tuthmosis III (No.34)
2 Tomb of Amenhotep II (No.35)
3 Tomb of Tutankhamun (No.62)
4 Tomb of Horemheb (No.57)
View of the entrance to the 5 Tomb of Ramses I (No.16)
Valley of the Kings
6 Tomb of Seti I (No.17)
Begin at the Visitors’ 7 Tomb of Merneptah (No.8)
Centre, which has an
8 Tomb of Ramses III (No.11)
excellent scale model
9 Tomb of Ramses IV (No.2)
of the valley. The
tombs are opened in 0 Tomb of Ramses VI (No.9)
rotation, with around
12 accessible at any
one time; six tombs
is about as many as
most people can visit
in one trip.
£ Tutankhamun (No.62)
This is a very small tomb
There is a basic café– (main image), but it is one of
restaurant selling the most visited thanks to
Tuthmosis III (No.34) the story of its discovery by
water, soft drinks
and snacks at the
! Tuthmosis III was one Howard Carter (see opposite).
entrance to the valley. of the first pharaohs to be All of the treasures have been
buried in the valley. His removed and visitors must
tomb is at the furthest end, be content with seeing the
• Map U2
burrowed high into the king’s mummy, which lies
• 2 km (1 mile) N of
mountainside in an attempt inside a gilded coffin.
the West Bank ticket
to thwart thieves. The tomb
kiosk, Luxor
decorations from this
• Open 6am–4pm (until
period are very crude, with
5pm in summer)
figures rendered as stick
• www.valleyofthekings.
people (above).
org
• For any three tombs
adm £E80; @ Amenhotep II (No.35)
This is one of the
Tutankhamun’s tomb
deepest tombs in the
adm £E100;
Tomb of Ramses VI
valley, with 90 steps
leading down to the various $ Horemheb (No.57)
The introduction of bas-
adm £E50
chambers. Amenhotep II relief in this tomb, in which
ruled immediately after figures are carved out before
Tuthmosis III and this painting, shows an advance
tomb has similarly basic in tomb art (above). Not all
wall paintings, as well as figures are finished and it is
containing Amenhotep’s fascinating to see the work in
sarcophagus. various stages of completion.

24
9

7
0 3

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


2 4
Ramses I (No.16) 8 56
% Ramses I ruled only for a single year and his
tomb is correspondingly modest in size. It has the
shortest entrance corridor in the valley leading to a
small burial chamber. However, the colours of the
tomb paintings remain particularly vibrant (above).
1

^ Seti I (No.17)
If you visit only one
tomb, it should be this
one – the longest, deepest
and most lavishly decorated
tomb in the valley. The
vaulted burial chamber
boasts a beautiful ceiling,
showing the constellations
surrounded by a line-up
of deities (below).

* Ramses III (No.11) Merneptah (No.8)


This is also known as & One of the many
the “Tomb of the Harpists” sons of Ramses II,
after the bas-relief of two Merneptah’s tomb almost
musicians. Unusually for equals that of Seti I for
a royal tomb, its colourful grandeur. This is the first
reliefs include scenes of tomb in which the axis is
everyday Egyptian life. completely straight, Wonderful Things
terminating in a tomb Archaeologist Howard
( Ramses IV (No.2)
Ramses III was
chamber containing the
pharaoh’s magnificent
Carter had been digging
in the Valley of the Kings
the last of the great granite sarcophagus. for five seasons. His
pharaohs. The quality of backer Lord Carnarvon
the craftsmanship in the was on the point of
tomb of his successor is stopping the funding
noticeably poorer than when on 4 November
those that came before. 1922 Carter discovered
some steps. Three weeks
Ramses VI (No.9)
This tomb has very ) later the pair broke
through a second sealed
dense decoration (right), door that allowed Carter
representing sacred texts to peer through into an
and imagery, central to undisturbed tomb.
which is the voyage of Asked by Carnarvon if
the sun god Ra through he could see anything,
the underworld and his Carter replied, “Yes,
victorious reemergence wonderful things”.
in the morning.

For more information on the pharaohs of ancient Egypt 25


see pp34–5
Cruising the Nile
After disembarking their ocean liner at Alexandria, the 19th-century tourist
would board a train for Cairo where they would hire a boat at the port of
Bulaq. They would then make their way in a leisurely fashion down the Nile
stopping off at each archaeological site along the way. The journey would
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

take about 10 days, ending at Aswan, where a cataract rendered any further
progress south impossible. That same journey cannot be made today, but a
four- or seven-day cruise stopping at the major monuments of Upper
(southern) Egypt remains by far the best way to experience the country.

Top 10 Features
1 The Route
2 The Itinerary
3 The Boats
4 Feluccas
5 Steamers
A flotilla of feluccas on the
Nile at Luxor 6 Dahabiyyas
7 Life On Board
The number and
8 Life on the Nile
variety of boats is
overwhelming and it
9 Death on the Nile
is advisable to do 0 Cruising Lake Nasser
some research before
booking. Itineraries
are generally the
same and the differ-
ences between
cruisers lie in the
quality of service and
facilities on board.

All meals are usually


included in the cost
! The Route
Since the 1980s boats @ The Itinerary
As well as the sites at
of the package but no longer sail through Luxor and Aswan, cruises all
alcoholic drinks are Middle Egypt. All departures stop at Esna, Edfu and
put on a tab that has
are from Luxor, taking Kom Ombo, each of which
three days to reach Aswan has a Pharaonic temple.
to be settled at the
and then turning around to Full-day excursions are
end of the cruise.
make the return journey. typically offered to Abu
Simbel on Lake Nasser.
# The Boats
There are over 300 cruise boats on the Nile (below),
varying in size from those with just a handful of cabins to
vessels capable of carrying several hundred people. Nearly
all have air-conditioned cabins with en-suite bathrooms.

26 For more information on the temples of Esna, Edfu and


Kom Ombo see pp39 & 107
$ Feluccas
The cheapest way % Steamers
These were the boats
of sailing the Nile is to that cruised the Nile
charter one of the in the early years of the
small single-sailed 20th century. Now
boats that scud about meticulously restored,

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


the river (left). These they provide a more
are hired in Aswan, characterful, though still
usually for a three-day, affordable, option than
two-night journey to the standard Nile cruiser.
Edfu. Sleeping
arrangements are a
blanket and you bring ^ Dahabiyyas
The most exclusive
your own provisions. option is a berth on a
dahabiyya (below), a
newly-built replica of the
twin-sail boat that used
to cruise the Nile in the
19th century. Each carries
between 5 and 20 people
in five-star comfort.

& Life On Board


Most cruise packages
include an Egyptologist,
who delivers lectures on
ancient Egyptian history
and acts as a guide on
visits to the monuments.
Life on the Nile Parties and folkloric
Part of the appeal * events are organized as
of a cruise is the evening entertainment.
opportunity to observe
rural life on the shores Thomas Cook
of the river (right) –
water buffalo bathing
& Son
in the shallows, villagers The popularization of
at work in the cane Nile cruising, and of
fields and an abundance mass tourism to Egypt,
of water birds. is largely due to John
Mason Cook, son of

( Death on the Nile


Agatha Christie’s ) Cruising
Nasser
Lake Thomas Cook. In the
1880s Cooks Ltd began
1937 murder mystery is As an alternative to the tours to Egypt and
recommended reading on Nile cruise, a number of invested heavily in the
a Nile cruise as it takes boats cruise Lake Nasser, country’s infrastructure
place on board a Nile sailing from moorings at and marketing. They had
steamer and at the the High Dam, south of a network of “tourist
Pharaonic sites of Upper Aswan, to the great stations” along the Nile
Egypt. It was written in Temple of Abu Simbel, offering conveniences
part during a stay at and stopping at several from hotels to post
Aswan’s Old Cataract little-visited desert offices to doctors.
Hotel (see pp53 &131). temples en route.

For more information on boats and cruise operators on 27


the Nile see p133
Temple of Philae
Philae is the most picturesque of all Egypt’s temples, thanks to its site – it sits
on a Nile island reached by small motor launch. This Ptolemaic (Graeco-
Roman) era temple is devoted to Isis, whose cult was to survive into early
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Christian times. After the building of the Aswan Dam (1898–1902), the
island’s temples were submerged for a part of each year. With the building
of the High Dam (1969–71), the temples were relocated to nearby Agilika
Island, which was landscaped to match the original site.

Top 10 Features
1 Kiosk of Nectanebo
2 Colonnaded Courtyard
3 Temple of Isis
4 The Sanctuary
5 The Birth House
Tourist boat arriving at
Philae from Aswan 6 The Osiris Rooms
7 Hadrian’s Gate
If you are not
8 Temple of Hathor
travelling as part of
a group, you can
9 Kiosk of Trajan
negotiate a taxi or 0 Sound and Light Show
rent a bicycle from
Aswan to the Shallal
dock, which is where
the boats to Philae
depart from.

There is nowhere to
buy food and drink £ Temple of Isis
The centrepiece of Philae
on the island so, at is this beautiful, small temple
the very least, bring built over several hundred
bottled water. years by Ptolemaic and
Roman rulers (main image
and below). It is fronted by
• Map C5
• Agilika Island, S
! Kiosk of Nectanebo
Boats drop visitors an ancient Egyptian pylon
of Aswan
at a double stairway that and two stone lions.
• Reached by taxi (or
leads up to the Kiosk of
bicycle) from Aswan
Nectanebo (above), a
• Open 7am–4pm (until
small structure erected
5pm in summer)
during the 4th century BC
• Sound and Light
that acts as a gateway
Show: 6:30pm, 7:45pm,
to the site.
9pm in winter; 8pm,
9:15pm, 10:30pm
in summer
@ Colonnaded
Courtyard
• Languages vary, so
Beyond the kiosk is an
check schedules on
elongated courtyard flanked
www.soundandlight.
by colonnades. The west
com.eg
• General site adm £E50
colonnade (to the left) has
columns on which every $ The Sanctuary
Beyond a second pylon,
• Sound and Light Show
capital is different and a a hypostyle hall leads to
£E75
rear wall punctuated by vestibules that culminate in
windows overlooking the the innermost holy sanctuary,
water. The east colonnade containing a stone pedestal
is interrupted by a series of that once supported the
ruined structures. goddess Isis’s barque.

28 The Graeco-Romans were also known as the Ptolemies, after


the founder of the dynasty, Ptolemy I
% The Birth House
The colonnaded Birth 6
5
House (left) is where the
pharaohs legitimized
7 3
their rule as mortal
descendants of Horus by 8

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


taking part in rituals
celebrating the god’s 4
birth. At the bottom of
the rear wall are scenes 2 9
of Isis giving birth to
Horus in the marshes. 1

^ The Osiris Rooms


If the caretaker can be
persuaded to unlock the
way (with a tip), some
upper rooms with reliefs
depicting the resurrection
of Osiris after his
dismemberment by Seth
(see p37) can be visited.

& Hadrian’s Gate


West of the temple is
a small vestibule dedicated
by the Roman emperor,
inscribed with the date
24 August AD 394. Above
the lintel, Hadrian is
* Temple of Hathor
East of the main
depicted presenting
himself before a pantheon
building is a small, ruinous of ancient Egyptian deities.
temple, which still has
two columns topped with
Hathor heads, as well as The Cult of Isis
a fine relief depicting Isis was the goddess of
musicians with the dwarf magic, and no ancient
god Bess playing a harp. Egyptian cult lasted
longer or spread further

( Kiosk of Trajan
This imposing kiosk ) Sound
Show
and Light than hers. She became
identified with women,
(below) was built around Of all Egypt’s sound and sex and purity, and
AD 100 by the Roman light shows, the one at Isis worship spread
emperor Trajan and served Philae is the best (above). throughout the Roman
as a royal landing for the It consists of a one-hour empire, with her cult
temple. It combines floodlit tour through the temples appearing as
Roman architecture with ruins and is a highly far as what is now
Pharaonic detailing. atmospheric experience. Hungary. For the first
two centuries of
Christianity’s history,
Isis was Christianity’s
main rival. It is possible
that Christianity’s cult of
the Virgin was nurtured
as a way of winning
over Isis worshippers.

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 29


Abu Simbel
Carved out of a mountainside in the 13th century BC, Ramses II’s stupendous
Sun Temple at Abu Simbel was dedicated to three of Egypt’s pre-eminent
deities – Amun of Thebes, Ptah of Memphis and Ra-Harakhty of Heliopolis,
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

but it is principally a monument to the might of the pharaoh. Located at the


southernmost tip of ancient Egypt’s borders, the four colossal statues of
Ramses that front the temple gaze towards enemy territory as a warning
to any who might approach.

Top 10 Features
1 Lake Nasser
2 Visitors’ Centre
3 The Colossi
4 Statue of Ra-Harakhty
5 Hypostyle Hall Reliefs
6 Ramses Pillars
Entrance to the Temple 7 Inner Sanctuary
of Hathor
8 The Sun Ceremony
Abu Simbel is offered 9 Temple of Hathor
as an optional extra
0 Sound and Light Show
on most Nile cruises.
Alternatively, most
hotels in Aswan
organize excursions
by minibus, which
generally leave at
4:30am and return
on the same day.

There are small


shops and cafés
in the town of ! Lake Nasser
Abu Simbel, a
Lake Nasser was
formed with the completion £ The Colossi
Ramses II had his
20-minute walk
of the High Dam in 1971. temple adorned with four
from the temples. The water stretches south gigantic colossi fashioned
of the dam for nearly in his likeness (main image).
• Map B6 500 km (300 miles) into Each of the complete
• Lake Nasser, 280 km Sudan. With a surface area seated figures (one lost its
(174 miles) S of Aswan of 6,000 sq km (3,700 sq upper torso in an earthquake
• Site open 7am–4pm miles) the lake is the in 27 BC) is more than
(until 5pm in summer) world’s largest reservoir. 20 m (65 ft) in height.
• Sound and Light
Show: 6pm, 7pm,
8pm (2 hours later @ Visitors’ Centre
Like Philae, $ Statue of
Ra-Harakhty
in summer) the temples at Abu Above the entrance
• www.soundandlight. Simbel were rescued to the temple is
com.eg from the rising a statue of the
• General site adm waters of Lake falcon-headed sun
£E100 Nasser. The Visitors’ god Ra-Harakhty
• Sound and Light Show Centre contains an (left). At the top
£E75 exhibition telling of the temple are
the story of the the remains of a
move, with diagrams, frieze of baboons
photographs worshipping the
and models. rising sun.

30 For more information on Lake Nasser see pp108–13


78

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


% Hypostyle Hall Reliefs
The southern wall of the Hypostyle Hall depicts
5
6
the Battle of Qadesh (c.1275 BC) (above), in which
the pharaoh leads his army in a defeat of the Hittites
on the River Orontes in what is now Syria. 3 343 3 9

^ Ramses Pillars
The Hypostyle
Hall has twin rows of
four pillars fronted by
10-m (33-ft) statues
of Ramses in Osiride
form carrying crook
and flail (above).

& Inner Sanctuary


A second pillared hall
leads to a sanctuary at
( Temple of Hathor The Sun Ceremony
Beside the Sun Temple * The Sun Temple
the rear of the temple,
where there are four
is a temple dedicated to is aligned so that on statues representing
the goddess Hathor, built 22 February and on Ptah, Ramses II, Amun-
by Ramses II to honour 22 October every year Ra and Ra-Harakhty.
his wife Nefertari (below). (traditionally considered
The façade alternates Ramses’ birthday
colossi of the pharaoh and coronation date, Rescue by
and his queen. Inside is respectively), the first UNESCO
a hypostyle hall with rays of the rising sun In the 1960s, as the
Hathor-headed pillars. illuminate the sanctuary rising waters of Lake
cult statues of Amun-Ra, Nasser threatened to
Ra-Harakhty and Ramses engulf the temples at
II, while Ptah stays in Abu Simbel, UNESCO
shadow (see p62). engineers cut them from
the mountain in sections
) Sound
Show
and Light and reassembled the
pieces to front an
Set to music, this artificial mountain 210 m
impressive show (700 ft) behind and 65 m
includes projections onto (213 ft) above their
the temples showing original position.
how they once looked.

31
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Tuthmosis III Centre First Intermediate Period fresco Right Early Dynastic ivory carving

Periods of Ancient Egyptian History


! Early Dynastic Period
(3100–2890 BC)
kings. The weakening of
centralized power led to
There is evidence of human the establishment of
activity in the Western local dynasties, notably
Desert as far back as at Herakleopolis in the
8000 BC, but what we regard Fayoum Oasis and
as ancient Egypt began in Thebes in the south.
3100 BC with the unification
of Upper (southern) and
Lower (northern) Egypt by $ Middle Kingdom
(2055–1650 BC)
King Narmer (also known The powerful warlord
as Menes), who created Montuhotep II conquered
a capital at Memphis. the north to reunite the
Middle Kingdom country with Thebes

@ Old Kingdom
(2686–2181 BC)
statuette (modern-day Luxor) as its
new capital, which grew
Also known as the Age of into a major metropolis.
the Pyramids, successive Across the river, the first tombs
dynasties of kings raised a and funerary temples were
chain of pyramids, the greatest constructed at the foot of
of which were the trio at Giza the Theban Hills on the
(see pp12–13). Subsequently, west bank of the Nile.
poor harvests depleted the royal
coffers, which led to a decline
in royal power, signified by a %
Second Intermediate
Period (1650–1550 BC)
decrease in the size of pyramids. Migrants from lands north of
Egypt, referred to as Hyksos,

£ First Intermediate Period


(2181–2055 BC)
assumed control and allied with
Nubia to dominate southern
During this unstable period of Egypt. The country became
ancient Egyptian history there subject to intermittent civil war.
were numerous ephemeral

^ New Kingdom
(1550–1069 BC)
With the reunification of north
and south and the expulsion of
the Hyksos, Egypt entered a
Golden Age, expanding its rule
into Asia Minor and as far as the
Euphrates. Captured treasures
enriched the royal powerbase at
Karnak, seat of the mightiest
Old Kingdom relief with Egyptian scribes pharaohs including Ramses II.

34 Preceding pages Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahri in Thebes


& Third Intermediate Period
(1069–715 BC)
Top 10 Kings and
Queens of
The New Kingdom gave way to
Ancient Egypt
four centuries of disunity and
foreign infiltration, with Egypt ! Narmer (c.3100 BC)

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


The king who started
again divided into north (ruled
30 dynasties of ancient
from Tanis in the Delta) and Egyptian royalty.
south (ruled by the priests of
Karnak) and subject to invasion
by Libyans and Nubians.
@ Djoser (2667–2648 BC)
Djoser’s architect Imhotep
built the Step Pyramid at
Saqqara, the world’s oldest
* The Late Period began with
Late Period (747–332 BC) stone monument.

the Assyrian invasion of


Egypt, followed by the
£ Khufu (2589–2566 BC)
A ruthless pharaoh, but
celebrated as the builder of
Persians in 525 BC.
the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The Persians ruled for
200 years interrupted
only by the short-lived $ Montuhotep II
(2055–2004 BC)
30th Dynasty of Reunited Egypt to initiate
the Middle Kingdom.
Egyptian pharaohs
(380–343 BC), the last
native rulers until the % Ahmose
(1550–1525 BC)
Revolution of 1952. Defeated the Hyksos to
reunite Egypt once again
and start the greatest period
( Graeco-Roman
Period (332–30 BC)
of Pharaonic history.

In 332 BC the
Macedonian king ^ Hatshepsut
(1473–1458 BC)
Alexander the Great Late Period Egypt’s only woman pharaoh
sarcophagus and builder of a striking
“liberated” Egypt
mortuary temple at Thebes.
from the Persians
and founded his new capital,
Alexandria, on the Mediterranean. & Tuthmosis III
(1479–1425 BC)
He was succeeded by his trusted A military genius whose
victories expanded the
general Ptolemy, who founded a
Egyptian empire to its
dynasty that ruled for 275 years furthest extents.
ending with the dramatic death
of the last of the Ptolemies,
Cleopatra VII, lover of Julius
* Akhenaten
(1352–1336 BC)
Labelled as the “Heretic
Caesar and Marc Antony.
King” due to his attempts
to embrace monotheism.

) After the Pharaohs


With the defeat and suicide
( Ramses II
of Cleopatra in 30 BC, Egypt (1279–1213 BC)
Ramses II’s 66-year reign saw
became part of the Roman
royal construction on a huge
empire. It remained under the scale, notably at Abu Simbel.
rule of Rome, followed by that of
Constantinople, capital of the
Eastern Roman empire, until the
) Cleopatra (51–30 BC)
Cleopatra VII’s death
brought to an end 3,070 years
arrival of conquering Arab
of ancient Egyptian history.
armies in AD 640.

For a note on the perils of dating ancient Egyptian 35


history see p23
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Temple of Dendara, near Qena Right Tomb painting of a scene from the Book of the Dead

Ancient Egyptian Culture and Myths


$ The Mortuary Temple
In addition to the local cult
temples, each pharaoh also built
a mortuary temple to serve as a
place where, following his death,
offerings could be made for his
soul. In the Old and Middle
Kingdoms the temples were
Cartonnage depicting the goddess Maat attached to tombs but by around
1500 BC the tombs were separate

! Religious Life
For the ancient Egyptians,
and hidden away to foil robbers.

the universe was composed of


dualities – fertile and barren, life % Burial Traditions
The ancient Egyptians
and death, order and chaos – believed in an eternal after-
held in a state of equilibrium by life and they developed a
the goddess Maat. To maintain complex funerary cult aimed
this balance they built enormous at maintaining their life after
temples dedicated to the gods. death. This involved preserving
the body through a process of

@ Hieroglyphs
Hieroglyph means “sacred
mummification. The tombs of
the deceased were also stocked
carved letter” and refers to the with everything that might be
beautiful pictorial script needed in the afterlife.
used by the ancient
Egyptians. Hieroglyphs
can convey complex ^ Mummification
The earliest mummies
information. They can be were probably accidental.
read right to left, left to True mummification began
right or top to bottom. in the Fourth Dynasty.
Special priests first

£ The Cult Temple


At the centre of every
removed the internal
organs, which were stored
settlement was a cult in canopic jars, except for
temple. These temples Hieroglyphs the heart, which remained
served as a storehouse of in place to be weighed in
divine power, maintained by the the afterlife. Then the corpse was
priests. The temple was also an dried out and wrapped in linen.
economic and political centre
employing large numbers of
the local community and &
Tomb Paintings
As a guarantee against a
serving as a town hall, medical successful journey into the
centre and college. afterlife, ritual images and texts

36
were used to decorate the tomb. Top 10 Gods and
These included scenes from the
Book of the Dead, which
Goddesses
contained instructions to help
the deceased to pass safely
! Amun
Powerful Theban deity

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


whose cult centre was at
through obstacles in the afterlife. Karnak. When combined with
Ra as Amun-Ra, he became

* Mythology
Ancient Egyptian religion
king of the gods.

was a complex belief system @ Anubis


Jackal-headed god of
involving a great number of embalmers and guardian of
deities originally based on aspects the Underworld.
of the natural world. Over time
different localities developed
many and varied myths relating
£ Hathor
Goddess of love, pleasure
and beauty, who is often
to their own deities. represented as a cow.

( The Creation Myth


In the beginning there was
$ Horus
Usually represented with
the head of a falcon, Horus is
nothing but the sea of chaos,
the god with whom all living
named Nun. Then Atum thought pharaohs were identified.
himself into being, sneezing to
create Shu and Tefnut. Shu and
Tefnut gave birth to two children:
% Isis
Daughter of Geb, god of
Geb, the earth, and Nut, the sky, the Earth, and of Nut, Isis is
the goddess of magic, whose
who in turn gave birth to the stars. cult centre was at Philae.

) Osiris and Isis


Osiris was murdered by his
^ Nut
Goddess of the sky and a
symbol of resurrection and
jealous brother Seth, who cut up
rebirth, Nut was pictured as
the body scattering it all over arched on her toes with her
Egypt. Osiris’s wife Isis collected fingertips over the earth.
up the pieces and put him back
together again as the first
mummy. Brought back to life,
& Osiris
God of the Underworld
who granted all life, including
Osiris became lord and judge the fertile flooding of the
of the dead. Nile River.

* Ra
Pre-eminent form of the
sun god, portrayed as a
falcon-headed figure with the
sun’s disc resting on his head.

( Seth
The god of the desert,
storms and chaos is depicted
with the head of an unknown
creature with a curved snout
and square ears.

) Thoth
Ibis-headed god of
wisdom and patron of scribes.
Tomb painting of the gods Osiris and Atum

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 37


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Detail of a relief in Medinat Habu Right Temple of Seti I, Abydos

Temples
# Medinat Habu
Second in size only to
Karnak, Medinat Habu was built
by Ramses III in Thebes. It is
dominated by the vast mortuary
temple of Ramses III, modelled
on Ramses II’s Ramesseum. The
complex also includes the remains
Statues of Ramses II as Osiris, Ramesseum of Ramses’s royal paIace. Often
overlooked by tourists, this

! Ramesseum
Ramses II, ruler of Egypt in
magnificent and haunting structure
is definitely worth a visit (see p100).
the 19th Dynasty, built his
mortuary temple, the
Ramesseum, on the west bank $ Temple of Horus, Edfu
Situated between Luxor and
of the Nile at Thebes as a Aswan, the Temple of Horus at
statement of his everlasting Edfu dates from 237 BC, when
greatness and to impress his Egypt was ruled by the successors
subjects. Although there is very of Alexander the Great. These
little left standing of the huge rulers copied earlier temples,
complex, what remains is still preserving the architectural
striking. It once had an 18-m traditions of their Pharaonic
(60-ft) high colossus of Ramses, predecessors, as can be seen in
parts of which now lie scattered this vast structure, the most intact
around the site (see p100). of all Egypt’s temples (see p107).

@ Temple of Seti I, Abydos


Built during Seti I’s reign
(1294–1279 BC), this is one of
the most intact temples in
Egypt and has some of the
finest decoration and bas-reliefs,
many of which have retained
their original colour. It is
situated in Abydos, which was
once a huge walled town and
the cult centre of Osiris (god of
the dead) and was regarded as
the holiest of Egyptian towns
in Pharaonic times. Due to its
distance from the main
tourist centres, it is a less
visited site (see p107). Temple of Horus at Edfu

38
* Temple of Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut was Egypt’s
only female pharaoh and her
mortuary temple at Deir al-Bahri
in Thebes was designed by her

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


architect Senenmut in the
18th Dynasty. Partly hewn out of
rock, it rises from the desert
plain in a series of striking
terraces. It is extraordinary in
appearance and unlike any other
Detail of carved ceiling, Temple of Dendara surviving ancient Egyptian
structure (see pp22–3).

% Dendara
Due to its location a little
( Philae
off the normal tourist trail near Centre of the cult of Isis,
Qena, Dendara receives far Philae is a comparatively late
fewer visitors than it deserves. temple complex, dating from the
Like the temple at Edfu, the Graeco-Roman period. It is a
temple at Dendara dates from favourite with visitors thanks to a
the Graeco-Roman era. Dedicated beautiful location on its own
to the goddess Hathor, it is island in the Nile (see pp28–9).
remarkably well preserved and
imitates typical Pharaonic temple
architecture (see p107). ) Abu Simbel
Ramses II (1279–1213 BC)
built the spectacular Sun Temple

^ As well as being Egypt’s


Karnak at Abu Simbel. Due to the four
colossi carved in his image that
most magnificent temple front the temple, he is the most
complex, Karnak is also one of famous of all pharaohs, with
Egypt’s oldest Pharaonic sites. It the exception perhaps of
started with humble beginnings Tutankhamun (see pp30–31).
during the 11th Dynasty, and was
added to and expanded by every 4HQD

pharaoh over the course of 4XV


1,300 years until the 20th Dynasty.


It contains many different courts, /X[RU
halls and temples. At the heart of  %DUUDPL\DK
/
JMF
the vast complex lies the Temple 

of Amun, dedicated to the king of 8FTUFSO%FTFSU
6LOVLODK
-JCZBO

gods (see pp16–19).




& Luxor Temple


Begun by Amenhotep III in
$VZDQ

the 18th Dynasty and added to


.DOÃEVKD
by Ramses II in the 19th -BLF/BTTFS
#VIBZSBU/êŃJS

Dynasty, Luxor Temple is a




perfect example of ancient


Egyptian temple architecture. 7RVKND

Located in the centre of modern


Luxor town, it is easily
 NJMFT  LN 
accessible (see pp20–21).

39
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Engraving of Auguste Mariette’s discovery of the Serapeum at Saqqara

Milestones in Egyptology
the discovery of the Serapeum,
the burial place of the sacred
Apis bulls.

$ The Deir al-Bahri Cache


(1881)
The search for a stray goat led
Ahmed Abdel Rassul down a shaft
and into a chamber filled with
sarcophagi. He kept the find quiet
and for years his family leaked
antiquities onto the market. When
finally rumbled, officials took
Painting of Belzoni at a temple entrance possession of the cache, which
included the bodies of Ramses II

! The Great Belzoni


Born in Padua, Italy, Giovanni
and III and Tuthmosis I–III.

Battista Belzoni (1778–1823)


toured Europe as a circus % The Karnak Cachette
(1903)
strongman. Arriving in Egypt he Workmen excavating in front of
was employed by the British the Seventh Pylon at Karnak
consul to collect antiquities. He uncovered fragments of a colossal
discovered several tombs at statue of Seti I. As they removed
Thebes, including that of Seti I. these, other statues could be
seen. Some 751 items were

@ Decoding the Rosetta


Stone (1822)
eventually recovered, the largest
find of statues ever made.
Discovered in 1799, this
fragment from a large stele
contained a decree written in two ^ Yuya and Thuya (1905)
The first decade of the
hieroglyphic scripts and in Greek. 20th century was a bumper time
Through a comparison of the for discoveries in the Valley of
texts, Frenchman Jean-François the Kings, notably American
Champollion was able to decipher Theodore Davies’ discovery of
ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. the treasure-filled tomb of Yuya
and Thuya, the parents of Queen

£ Mariette and the


Serapeum (1851)
Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III.

Frenchman Auguste Mariette


was one of the first Egyptologists. & The Thutmose Gallery
(1912)
Spotting a half-buried sphinx at Archaeologists digging at Tell
Saqqara he commenced al-Amarna (see p107) found a
excavations that ultimately led to ruined house identified as

40
belonging to the sculptor Thutmose Top 10 Treasures
in the 14th century BC. It was
found to contain sculptures
Outside Egypt
carved in a variety of stones. ! The Rosetta Stone
Handed over by the French

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


to the British as a spoil of war
* The Tomb of Tutankhamun
(1922)
in 1801, this now resides in
the British Museum, London.
This is the greatest archaeological
find ever: a complete, undisturbed
burial of a New Kingdom pharaoh,
@ The Zodiac Ceiling
This ceiling from the
temple at Dendara is housed
containing treasures to fill a in the Louvre in Paris.
whole museum. For more on the
finding of the tomb see page 25.
£ Bust of Nefertiti
Discovered at Abydos, this
beautiful bust is displayed at
( The Luxor Statue Cache
(1989)
the Altes Museum in Berlin.

One of the greatest finds of


recent years was the discovery $ Sarcophagus of Seti I
Removed from the Valley
of a large group of statues of the Kings by Belzoni, this is
beneath a court at Luxor Temple. now at the John Soane’s
Museum in London.
Dating from the New Kingdom
era, these include some of the
finest examples of Pharaonic art % Temple of Dendur
Given to the USA in thanks
ever found. for its financial contribution to
the saving of Abu Simbel, this
is on display at the Metropolian
) Underwater Discoveries
off Alexandria (1990s–
Museum in New York.

present)
Since the early 1990s two teams
^ The Great Sphinx’s
Beard from Giza
of divers headed by two French Fragments are in both the
Egyptian Museum, Cairo and
archaeologists have been diving the British Museum, London.
off Alexandria. They have identified
stone blocks that once made up
the Pharos Lighthouse, one of
& Statue of Ramses II
The superb collection of
the lost Seven Wonders of Egyptology in Italy’s Turin
Museum includes a statue
the ancient world, and have of a youthful Ramses II.
discovered submerged ruins
marking the site of Cleopatra’s
palace and temple complex.
* Alabaster Statue of
King Pepi II
The Brooklyn Museum in New
York possesses an alabaster
statue of King Pepi II.

( Statue of Hemiunnu
This statue of the Great
Pyramid architect is held by
the Roemer–Pelizaeus Museum
in Hildesheim, Germany.

) Menkaure
Queen
and his

The Museum of Fine Arts in


Boston has a statue of the
pyramid builder and his queen.
Howard Carter at the coffin of Tutankhamun

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 41


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Suez Canal opening celebration, 1869

Moments in Post-Pharaonic History


! AD 323: The Christian Era
After the defeat of Cleopatra
power to seize control of Egypt
in 1250. Fearsome warriors
in 30 BC Egypt became a known for their horsemanship,
province of Rome. Following the Mamluks extended
the conversion of Emperor their rule as far north as
Constantine, Christianity Turkey. With the spoils
spread throughout the of war they endowed
empire and became the Cairo with a legacy of
official religion in Egypt in monumental architecture.
AD 323, where its followers
were known as Copts.
However, due to theological % 1516: The Ottomans
From their capital
differences, Copts were of Constantinople the
mercilessly persecuted by Bust of Emperor Ottoman Turks challenged
the imperial authorities. Constantine Mamluk power, scoring
a decisive victory in

@ 640: The Arrival of Islam


Following the teachings of
1516. The following year the
Ottomans entered Cairo to take
the Prophet Mohammed, the control of Egypt.
armies of Islam entered Egypt
and marched on the fortress of
Babylon-in-Egypt near Memphis ^ 1798: Napoleon’s Invasion
In 1798 an army led by
in AD 640. It surrendered and Napoleon Bonaparte invaded
beside it the Arabs founded the Egypt and scored a victory in
city of Fustat, forerunner of Cairo. the Battle of the Pyramids. This
was short-lived as Napoleon’s

£ 969: The Fatimids


Egypt became a province of
fleet was subsequently destroyed
in the Battle of the Nile by a British
a vast Islamic empire ruled first Navy led by Admiral Nelson.
from Damascus (by the Umayyad
Dynasty), then from Baghdad
(by the Abbasid Dynasty). In
AD 969 Egypt was seized by the
Fatimids from Tunisia. They built
a new walled city, which they
called Al-Qahira (“The Victorious”),
a name later corrupted by
European merchants to “Cairo”.

$ 1250: The Mamluks


Originally slaves brought
from the Caucasus to Egypt, the
Mamluks accumulated enough Painting depicting the Battle of the Pyramids

42
Top 10 Rulers
of Egypt
! Amr ibn al-As
(c. 583–664)

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


The leader of the Islamic army
that conquered Egypt.

@ Salah ad-Din
(c. 1138–93)
Mohammed Ali Sultan of Egypt and conqueror
of Jerusalem, better known in
the west as Saladin.

& 1805: Mohammed Ali


Into the power vacuum left
£ Baybars (1223–77)
by the French stepped Mohammed A Mamluk ruler who
Ali, an Albanian mercenary, who ended the Crusader presence
in the Holy Land.
defeated forces of Ottomans and
Mamluks to seize control of Egypt
in 1805. Once in power, he sought $ Suleyman the Great
(1494–1566)
to modernize Egypt, promoting The greatest of Ottoman
industrialization and reform. rulers, whose domains also
included Egypt.

* 1882: The British in Egypt


The modernization of Egypt, % Mohammed
(1769–1849)
Ali

which included the introduction An Albanian mercenary who


of railways and the building of founded a ruling dynasty of
about 150 years, transforming
the Suez Canal in 1869, resulted Egypt from medieval state to
in huge national debt. In 1882 modern nation.
Egyptian army officers staged a
revolt. This was quashed by the
British army, which subsequently
^ Khedive Ismail
(1830–95)
A descendent of Mohammed
occupied the country. Ali who built a new, European-
style Cairo.

( 1952: Revolution
During the first half of the & King Farouk (1920–65)
This puppet king was
20th century Egyptian resentment
controlled by the British and
over British occupation grew. In sent into exile after the 1952
January 1952 on “Black Saturday” Revolution (see p65).
European businesses in Cairo
were torched by rampaging
mobs. On 23 July a group called
* Gamal Abdel Nasser
(1918–70)
A socialist president who took
the Free Officers, led by Gamal on the forces of Britain, France
Abdel Nasser, seized power in a and Israel in the Suez Crisis of
bloodless coup. 1956, and won (see p65).

) 1979: Peace with Israel ( Anwar Sadat (1918–81)


Sadat sued for peace with
Egypt fought Israel in 1948, Israel and was assassinated
1967 and 1973. The first two wars by Islamic extremists in 1981.
ended in Egyptian defeat, but in
1973 there were military gains,
paving the way for peace talks
) Hosni Mubarak (b.1928)
Mubarak was in power for
30 years before anti-government
that ended in the signing of the protests overthrew him in 2011.
Camp David peace treaty in 1979.

43
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left The Mamluk mosque of Sultan Hassan, Cairo Right Mashrabiya in Islamic Cairo

Islamic Architecture
! The Mosque
Egypt’s oldest mosque, the
Mosque of Amr (see p84), was
built in AD 640. Architectural
styles developed rapidly under
successive early Islamic dynasties
to peak under the Mamluks
(1250–1516), when craftsmen
from all over the Near East were
brought to Egypt to build for A mihrab with inlaid marble
vainglorious sultans, with often
remarkable results that rival
Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals. $ Domestic Architecture
Private houses (beit) owed
their design to climatic and social

@ One of the greatest


Domes and Minarets conditions. They were inward-
looking for privacy, with rooms
achievements of Cairo’s medieval arranged around a central
artisans was the decorative courtyard. Small windows, large
carving of stone surfaces, seen airy rooms, shady arcades,
at its best on the city’s myriad fountains and rooftop “wind
minarets and, particularly, its catchers” that channelled cool
domes. Developed under the breezes kept the houses cool.
Mamluks, the decoration of
domes became an increasingly
sophisticated art culminating in % Mashrabiya
These are wooden-lattice
mesmerizing interwoven patterns screens. Long before glass
of geometric and floral designs. became common, mashrabiya
was used to cover windows,

£ Madrassa
A madrassa is a Koranic
either externally or internally. The
screens allowed the women of
school, where law and theology the house to observe without
are taught. Historically, themselves being seen.
mosques and madrassas
have often been housed
in the same building. ^
Wikala
Also known as a
A mosque tends to caravanserai, this is the
incorporate teaching forerunner of the
rooms or has iwans – modern hotel. From
large arched spaces early Islamic times it
arranged around a provided lodgings to
central courtyard, the merchant caravans
in which lessons that brought goods
are given. The carved dome of a mosque to medieval Egypt.

44
& Sabil-Kuttab
Public fountains (sabils) are
Top 10 Islamic
Monuments
a typical element of Islamic
architecture – some no more
than a tap and a trough, some
! Mosque of Ibn Tulun
It is worth visiting this,

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


one of the oldest mosques
grand like the Sabil-Kuttab of in Egypt, for its unique
Abdel Rahman Katkhuda in Cairo minaret (see p84).
(see p87). The kuttab was an
open loggia or gallery where
teachings of the Koran took place.
@ Mosque of Al-Azhar
Egypt’s most important
mosque consists of a
catalogue of architectural

* Just like the pharaohs


Mausoelum styles, from the 10th to the
19th century (see pp14–15).
before them, Egypt’s medieval
sultans sought to glorify £ Beit al-Sihaymi
There are fine examples
themselves in death by building of mashrabiya in this former
funerary complexes of mosques merchant’s house (see p87).
and madrassas beside a domed
tomb chamber. Some of the best
examples of these are in Cairo’s
$ Mosque
Hassan
of Sultan

The courtyard of this majestic


Northern Cemetery (see p85). 13th-century mosque served
as a madrassa with four

( Inlaid Marble
Intricate designs using
soaring iwans (see p85).

different coloured pieces of % Mosque


Qaitbey
of Sultan
marble often decorate the walls This mosque in Cairo’s
or ceilings of Egypt’s mosques, Northern Cemetery has a very
madrassas and mausoleums, as fine carved stone dome.
well as the mihrab, the alcove-
like niche that indicates the ^ Gayer-Anderson
Museum
Muslims’ direction of prayer. This old house boasts
impressive mashrabiya-
screened galleries (see p46).

& Mosque
Pasha
of Suleyman

Beautiful inlaid marble and


woodwork can be seen in this
Ottoman mosque (see p86).

* Madrassa-Mausoleum
of Qalaoun
Brightly painted woodwork in a mosque Qalaoun’s great edifice has
some fine inlaid marble

) Woodwork
Wooden ceilings in the
decoration (see p87).

prayer halls of mosques were ( Wikala of Al-Ghouri


This is the most impressive
often carved with intricate wikala in Cairo (see p15).
geometric patterns and painted
in rich colours. Doors were also
often inlaid with pieces of ivory.
) Manial Palace
This 19th-century royal
Fine examples of this can be residence built in traditional
Islamic style has beautiful
seen at the Museum of Islamic painted ceilings (see p72).
Art in Cairo (see pp46 and 74).

45
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Egyptian Museum Right Coptic Museum

Museums
! Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Egypt’s principal museum
The rooms themselves are
exquisite and are decorated in
sits just off Cairo’s central a variety of styles, including
square, Midan Tahrir, and Turkish, Persian, Damascene
beside the Nile. Along with the and even Chinese. d Map H6
Pyramids, this is the city’s • Sharia Ibn Tulun • 02 2364 7822
must-see sight. You need to • Open 9am–4pm • Adm £E35
allow at least half a day to see
the highlights, which include
the treasures of Tutankhamun, # Museum
Cairo
of Islamic Art,

mummies of pharaohs and This museum, devoted to


three millennias’ worth of 7th–19th-century arts and crafts,
statues, but it is really worth holds some stunning exhibits,
returning for a second visit as many of which originate in the
there is too much to take in at mosques and old houses of
one go (see pp8–11). Cairo’s medieval quarters. There
are wonderful examples of huge

@ Gayer-Anderson
Museum, Cairo
carved doors, etched silverware,
mosaic floors and mashrabiya
Abutting the magnificent Ibn (wooden-lattice) screens, as well
Tulun Mosque (see p84), this as old Korans and manuscripts
unusual museum – named for its from around the Islamic world.
former owner, British Army Often overlooked by visitors, this
officer Major John Gayer- museum is definitely worth
Anderson – is composed of two seeing (see p74).
adjoining 16th-century houses
that were refurbished by the
major and filled with antiquities, $ Coptic Museum, Cairo
Treasures from the
artworks and Oriental artefacts. 300 years between the end
of the worship of pagan gods
and the birth of Islam are
displayed in this beautiful two-
storey museum at the heart of
Coptic Cairo. Some exhibits
demonstrate the link between
the old gods of Egypt and early
Christianity, notably the
transformation of the ancient
Egyptian ankh symbol into the
cross. There are also finely
woven textiles on display, for
which the Copts were once
Bust of Nefertiti, Gayer-Anderson Museum famous (see p84).

46
a painted Graeco-Roman mummy
and some green faïence panels
from the tomb of Djoser (see p94).

* Luxor Museum

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


Although this museum is far
smaller than Cairo’s Egyptian
Museum, the exhibits are better
displayed and labelled. Many
Funerary slab, Graeco-Roman Museum pieces were discovered locally
and mostly date from the New

% Graeco-Roman
Alexandria
Museum, Kingdom era, notably refined
statuary, treasures from
This revered museum exhibits a Tutankhamun’s tomb and some
fascinating collection relating to fascinating items from the reign
the Ptolemaic era – the three of Akhenaten (see p99).
centuries spanning around
300–30 BC, from the time of
Alexander the Great to Cleopatra. ( Mummification
Luxor
Museum,

It also has exhibits covering the This is a small museum devoted


Roman period up until the Arab to the subject of death and the
conquest in AD 640. Highlights afterlife. Exhibits explain the
include some superb mosaics processes of mummification and
and a giant Apis bull in basalt include tools used for the
from the time of Hadrian, found mummification process. Also
at the Serapeum, the site of displayed are the well-preserved
classical Alexandria’s main mummy of a 21st-Dynasty high
temple (see p95). priest of Amun, and a host of
mummified animals, as well as

^ Alexandria
Museum
National some painted coffins (see p99).

Inaugurated in 2003 and housed


in a villa that formerly contained
the US Consulate, this museum
combines chronologically
arranged collections from the
Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic
periods. There are also some
19th-century examples of
glassware, weaponry and
jewellery, as well as a few items Ethnography room, Nubia Museum
of statuary recovered from the
seabed in recent times. All
exhibits are beautifully presented ) Nubia Museum, Aswan
The Nubians are a dark-
and well labelled (see p95). skinned people whose lands have
historically straddled the Egyptian–

& Imhotep Museum, Saqqara


Opened in 2006, this museum
Sudanese border. They have their
own distinctive arts and crafts and
displays finds from the site of architecture, as well as a millennia-
Saqqara. The prize exhibits include long history, all of which are
a coffin belonging to the architect celebrated in this purpose-built
for whom the museum is named, museum in Aswan (see p109).

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 47


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Film version of Death on the Nile Right Poster for the lavish 1963 film, Cleopatra

Films Set in Egypt


! The Spy Who Loved Me
In this 1977 James Bond
1,000 crew members, and Taylor
was paid a then record-breaking
adventure the requisite foreign million-dollar fee.
exoticism appears in scenes at
the Pyramids, Cairo’s superb
Gayer-Anderson Museum and % The Mummy
The ancient Egyptian dead
Karnak. The magnificent temple can’t seem to stay still, judging
of Ramses II at Abu Simbel by the incredible number of
becomes the fictional field mummy movies. The best is still
headquarters of MI6 containing the poignant 1932 original with
M’s office, conference rooms Boris Karloff in the title role. It
and Q’s laboratory. was released just a decade after
the opening of the tomb of

@ Ruby Cairo
Largely ignored by cinema
Tutankhamun unleashed the
supposed “curse of the pharaoh”.
audiences, this 1993 film has
Four Weddings and a Funeral star
Andie MacDowell investigating ^ The English Patient
Much of the action in the
the mystery of her husband’s 1996 multi-Oscar-winning film is
death and enlisting the aid of set in Cairo and Egypt’s Western
dashing aid worker Liam Neeson. Desert, which was shot in Venice
But the real star is Cairo, where and Tunisia, respectively. The
much of the action takes place. central character of Count Laszlo
de Almásy is based on a real

£ Lawrence of Arabia
David Lean’s 1962 epic has
character, a Hungarian desert
explorer and spy for Germany
many scenes that are set in during World War II.
Egypt, which is where the real-
life Lawrence worked for a time,
at British Army HQ in Cairo.
Although all the Egyptian scenes
were actually shot in other
countries, they look authentic.

$ Cleopatra
As famous for the on-set
romance between its two stars,
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard
Burton, as for the on-screen story,
the 1963 “most expensive movie
ever made” almost bankrupted
20th Century Fox. It used
79 sets, 26,000 costumes and David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia

48 For stars of the Egyptian cinema see pp64–5


& The Yacoubian Building
Few Egyptian films ever get
Top 10 Egypt Must-
Reads
an international release, but after
being the biggest box office hit
of 2006 in Egypt, The Yacoubian
! The Cairo Trilogy
An epic work following the

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


fortunes of a family in 1930s
Building screened around the Cairo by Nobel Laureate
world. This is a fabulous tale of Naguib Mahfouz (see p64).
the intersecting lives of the
residents of an apartment block
in Downtown Cairo that doubles
@ The Map of Love
Novel by Anglo-Egyptian
Ahdaf Soueif, shortlisted for
as a deft and often scathing the Booker Prize in 1999.
critque of life in Egypt today.
£ The Cairo House
The fascinating story of a
* Indiana Jones and the
Raiders of the Lost Ark privileged Egyptian family
falling foul of the Revolution
The first, and best, of the Indiana by Samia Serageldin.
Jones films, released in 1981,
sees the whip-wielding
archaeologist on the trail of the
$ AtheThousand
Nile
Miles Up

Ark of the Covenant, which is Magnificent early travel writing


by Amelia Edwards, who in
discovered at the remains of 1873–4 sailed in a dahabiyya
Tanis, an ancient Egyptian capital from Cairo to Abu Simbel.
in the Delta region of Egypt.
Egypt: How A Lost
However, as often happens, all
of the scenes set in Egypt were
% Civilization Was
Rediscovered
actually shot in the studio or Informative account by
in Tunisia. Joyce Tyldesley of the
development of Egyptology.

( Death on the Nile


The 1978 big-screen ^ Moon Tiger
Booker Prize-winning
treatment of Christie’s murder novel by Penelope Lively
mystery didn’t stint on the about a doomed love affair in
budget, flying cast and crew to Egypt during World War II.
Egypt to film at Karnak, Abu
Simbel, the Pyramids and the & Taxi
Fictionalized short
Old Cataract hotel in Aswan. conversations with Cairo taxi
It looks luscious, with an all- drivers by Khaled al-Khamissi
star cast headed by Peter that paint a portrait of Egypt.
Ustinov struggling not to be
overshadowed by the scenery. * The Yacoubian
Building
Alaa Al-Aswany’s massive

) OSS 117: Cairo, Nest


of Spies
international bestseller and a
movie blockbuster (see left).
A hit French comedy that
screened worldwide in 2008 ( The Arabian
Nightmare
featuring OSS 117, a Gallic super- Bizarre fantasy set in the
spy, who is a cross between 007 Cairo of the Mamluks by
and Austin Powers. Set in 1955, British author Robert Irwin.
OS 117 is dispatched to Egypt
with a simple mission: “Make ) Death on the Nile
Agatha Christie’s best-
the Middle East safe.” Joyous known murder mystery.
nonsense ensues.

49
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Windsor Hotel, Cairo Right Cecil Hotel, Alexandria

Historic Hotels
! Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo
Shepheard’s of Cairo was
headquarters of a government
department and the residence of
once the world’s most famous a Levantine magnate. It is now an
hotel. Founded in 1841, it was elegant Marriott hotel (see p125).
famed for its terrace, which
overlooked one of the city’s
busiest streets, and a clientele # Windsor Hotel, Cairo
Built in the early 20th
that ranged from royalty to Noël century, this has previously
Coward and Lawrence of Arabia. been a royal bathhouse and
It was burnt down in the riots of British officers’ club. As a hotel
the Egyptian Revolution in 1952 it passed into the hands of the
and is commemorated by a plaque current owners in the 1950s and
at the new Shepheard Hotel built not a thing has been changed
in 1957 on the Corniche. d Map since – furniture and fittings all
E4 • Corniche al-Nil, Cairo • 020 2792 remain the same, including what
1000 • www.shepheard-hotel.com is believed to be the oldest
working lift in Egypt (see p127).

@ Cairo Marriott
In 1869, when the French
$ Cosmopolitan, Cairo
Empress Eugénie visited Egypt This fine old Art Nouveau
for the opening of the Suez hotel is on a backstreet in central
Canal, she was accommodated Cairo with a lovely entranceway
in a specially constructed palace with original tiling and a revolving
set among extensive gardens. wooden door. The lobby boasts
This later became a hotel, stained glass and an old open lift.
then in turn a hospital, the There are original wooden floors,
dark wood furniture and curving
balconies, but the rooms are a
little unloved. The prices are
relatively cheap (see p126).

% Mena House Oberoi, Giza


A former royal hunting lodge
at the Pyramids was transformed
into a hotel by an English couple
in 1869. In its time it has hosted
every emperor, king and
president who has visited Egypt.
Franklin Roosevelt, Winston
Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek
hammered out the final plans for
victory over Germany here
Cairo Marriott during World War II (see p125).

52 Preceding pages Interior view of the Tomb of Sennefer, Tombs of


the Nobles, Luxor
^ Cecil Hotel, Alexandria
Occupying a prime position
on Alexandria’s seafront with
sweeping views of the harbour,
the Cecil was built in 1929.

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


Author Somerset Maugham
stayed here, as did Winston
Churchill and Chicago gangster
Al Capone. The British Secret
Service kept a suite here for
their operations in World War II
and the hotel was immortalized
in Lawrence Durrell’s novels The
Alexandria Quartet (see p128).
Winter Palace, Luxor

& Across the square from the


Metropole, Alexandria

( Old Winter Palace, Luxor


Cecil, the Metropole also boasts a Built in 1886 on a prime site
great location and is of a similar fronting the Nile and facing the
vintage. Downstairs is the fine Theban Hills of the West Bank,
1920s Trianon Café, with high the Winter Palace’s heyday was
ceilings, original painted wall in 1922 when the world’s media
frescoes and a still popular flocked to Luxor in the wake of
patisserie section (see p128). the discovery of Tutankhamun’s
tomb. The hotel had to put up

* Al-Salamlek, Alexandria
At the extreme east of
tents in the garden to meet the
demand for beds (see p129).
Alexandria in Montazah is a
former royal summer residence
constructed in a Florentine style ) Old Cataract, Aswan
Built in 1899, the Old Cataract
and set in beautiful grounds by sits on a granite bluff overlooking
the sea. A modest outbuilding, a rocky stretch of the Nile – the
known as the Salamlek, has cataract for which the hotel is
been converted into a luxury named. It’s a spectacular view,
hotel, with rooms opulently enjoyed by writer Agatha Christie,
furnished in stylish period who stayed here on more than
fashion (see p128). one occasion (see p131).

Old Cataract, Aswan

Vote for your favourite hotel on traveldk.com 53


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left A glittering array of jewellery Right Colourful spices

Souvenirs
! Papyrus
The papyrus sold % Egyptian Cotton
Cotton as a crop was
throughout Egypt is actually introduced into Egypt in the
dried banana leaf, printed 19th century and almost ever
with designs copied from since Egypt has been renowned
ancient Egyptian tomb and for the quality of its cotton
temple paintings. It costs goods, especially sheets and
only a few Egyptian pounds. towels. Much of the best cotton
Real hand-painted papyrus is is exported and what you find
sold only at specialist galleries locally is often inferior. However,
such as Dr Ragab’s Papyrus certain shops at the malls and
Institute in Cairo (see p55). hotels sell top-quality goods.

@ Perfume
Egypt produces many Sheesha
^ Jewellery
Egyptians buy large
of the essences used by pipe quantities of gold and silver
international perfumiers. as traditionally many feel it’s
Undiluted essence can be bought safer than putting their money in
by the ounce in Cairo’s Khan al- the banks. Precious metals are
Khalili souq. Here shops sold by the gram in the souqs;
duplicate famous fragrances on with jewellery a percentage is
request or sell cheap imitations. then added to the price for the
You can also buy essential oils workmanship. A favourite
such as rose or jasmine. souvenir is a cartouche with
hieroglyphs.

£ Brass and Copperware


The souqs are full of stalls
& Carpets and Rugs
piled high with items made Unlike Turkey, Morocco or
locally, from brass candlesticks Iran, Egypt is not a major carpet-
and coffee sets to huge wagon making nation and the work is
wheel-sized copper trays and generally inferior to that in those
crescent moons for the tops of
minarets. Prices are very cheap,
although the quality does vary.

$ Sheesha Pipes
Every Egyptian coffee house
is filled with men smoking
sheesha pipes, the Middle
Eastern waterpipe. You’ll find
them in any souq, but the
greatest selection is found in
Cairo’s Khan al-Khalili (see p83). Beautifully patterned inlaid boxes

54 For tips on shopping see p122


Top 10 Places
to Shop
! Khan al-Khalili
Cairo’s main souq, but

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


not a place to go if you like to
browse in peace (see p82).

@ Dr Ragab’s Papyrus
Institute
Art gallery in Cairo that sells
some of the best hand-painted
papyrus in Egypt. d Map D6
• Corniche al-Nil, Giza, Cairo

# First Residence Mall


An opulent mall for the
best shopping in Cairo. d Map
Alabaster trinkets and brass and copperware K2 • 35 Sharia al-Giza, Giza, Cairo

countries. Rugs and tapestries


are woven from coarse wool
$ Tentmakers’ Souq
Cairo’s only remaining
or camel hair, typically in beige covered market where you
can find beautiful handcrafted
and brown. Colourful picture appliqué work. d Map H4
rugs depicting rural scenes are • Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah, Cairo
produced at the Ramses Wissa
Wassef Art Centre (see right). % Zamalek
A district of Cairo home
to several good jewellery and
* Spices
Spices are widely sold in the
homeware boutiques (see p72).

souqs. They are fresher and of


better quality than the packaged
^ Ramses Wissa Wassef
Art Centre
variety sold in the West, especially The handwoven, beautifully
crafted tapestries for sale
cinnamon, cumin and dukkah, here are unique works of art.
which is a blend of spices. d Map B2 • Harrania Village,
Saqqara Road, Al-Haram, Giza

( Pharaonic Memorabilia
The sheer number of kitsch & Attarine
A district in central
Pharaonic souvenirs is over- Alexandria renowned for its
whelming: alabaster pyramids, antique shops – just don’t
plastic replicas of Tutankhamun’s expect any bargains. d Map S2
death mask, Nefertiti dresses
and many others. It is possible * Aswan Souq
The best souq in Egypt
to find some attractive small- outside Cairo, especially for
scale reproductions of ancient spices (see p108).
Egyptian statuary, and the tiny
blue-painted scarabs are fun. ( At the Hotel
Prices are marked up but
quality is generally assured at
) Inlay Work
Among the most attractive
shops at the better hotels.

items produced in Egypt are


wooden boxes inlaid with slivers
) Onboard
Ship
Your Cruise

of bone, ivory or mother-of-pearl. Most cruise ships have a


small shop onboard with a
Hardwood backgammon boards cross-section of local goods.
are also often inlaid in this way.

For more on shopping in Cairo see p76 55


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Al-Azhar Park Right Aquarium in the Fish Gardens

Children’s Attractions in Cairo


! Egyptian Museum
Children of all ages enjoy £ Fish Gardens
Officially known as the
this museum. Besides the Gabalaya Gardens, this is a small
Tutankhamun treasures, which public park on the island of
are always popular, children find Zamalek, adorned with tall palm
the Mummy Room fascinating, trees and grassy hillocks. The
and in particular the collection of hillocks cover cave-like rooms that
animal mummies that include contain large aquariums with fish
bandaged cats, monkeys and and turtles. d Map D2 • Sharia Geziret
even a crocodile. Youngsters also al-Wusta, Zamalek, Cairo • 02 2735 1606
enjoy the large collection of • Open 8:30am–4:40pm • Adm
Middle Kingdom models on the
first floor, which may look like
toys but were believed by the $ Al-Azhar Park
A well-tended modern park
ancient Egyptians to come to life on the eastern edge of the city,
in the afterlife (see pp8–11). Al-Azhar is very popular with
families and children, thanks to

@ Giza Zoo
The zoo was founded in 1891
its wide-open spaces, grassy
hills and ornamental lake. There
and has a central feature of twin is an excellent children’s play
hills connected by a bridge area, which includes climbing
designed by Gustave Eiffel. A frames, walkways and swings,
maze of pathways loops around as well as cafés and snack
animal enclosures and it’s possible shops. d Map J4–5 • Sharia Salah
to take part in feeding sessions. Salem, Cairo • 02 2510 3868 • Open
Avoid Fridays when it gets 9am–2am in summer, 9am–midnight in
overcrowded. The First Residence winter • www.alazharpark.com • Adm
Mall across the road has a café
with good ice creams. d Map K3
• Sharia al-Giza, Giza, Cairo • 02 3570 % Felucca Rides
Feluccas – the small boats
1552 • Open 8:30am–5:30pm • Adm with triangular-shaped sails –
can be hired by the hour from
landings just in front of the
Shepheard’s Hotel and the Four
Seasons Nile Plaza (see p125).
They seat eight people and cost
about £E80 per hour plus £E10
tip, although this is negotiable.
Pack a picnic and eat out on the
river while watching the sun go
down over the city. If the kids
dip their hands in the water, make
A goat in Giza Zoo sure they wash them afterwards.

56
( DrVillage
Ragab’s Pharaonic

This educational theme park


recreates life in ancient Egypt
using about 100 actors. Board a

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


boat for a tour that includes
visits to ancient houses, a
temple and a walk-through
replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb
complete with treasure. Children
can have their photograph taken
in Pharaonic costume. There are
also several museums, as well
as a bazaar, playground and
An acrobat at the National Circus cafeteria. d Map K6 • 3 Sharia Bahr
al-Azam, Giza, Cairo • 02 3568 8601
• Open 9am–9pm in summer, 9am–6pm
^ Housed in a purpose-built
National Circus
in winter • www.pharaonicvillage.com
structure beside the Nile, the • Adm (children under 4 yrs free)
circus operates year round. All
the performers are Egyptian
and include jugglers, acrobats, ) Dream Park
Egypt’s largest amusement
tightrope walkers, lion- and tiger- park is a 30-minute car journey
tamers, magicians and trained from central Cairo. It contains
dogs. The show lasts just over a large variety of fairground
two hours. d Map H1 • Sharia al-Nil, rides, including a roller coaster,
Agouza, Cairo • Shows daily (except a log flume ride, go-karts and
Wed) at 9pm (one hour earlier in bumper cars. In addition, it has
winter) • Adm the usual videogame arcades
and themed restaurant areas.
d Map H1 • Al-Wahat Road, 6th
& Diwan Bookshop
Cairo’s best bookshop has October City, 20 km (12 miles) SW of
a small but excellent dedicated central Cairo • 02 3855 3191 • www.
children’s section with books dreamparkegypt.com • Adm
for all ages in both English and
Arabic. Look out for titles that Bulaq Ramses
S H A R IA

K Station H
IS
are set in Egypt such as the 26 UBRI
JUL
Y L-
GE

beautifully illustrated The Day of


A
G AM A L

I A
AR
R
BE

SH
Ahmed’s Secret. The story follows
TO
AL - N I L

OC
AB D AL

KUBRI 6 SHA
RIA
Ahmed through the streets of MIDAN A L - AZ H
SHA

Opera AR
TAH R I R
-N AS S

RNICHE

R IA

Sadat
Cairo as he delivers butane gas
IG
ER

A S H AL

AL- Q

to customers (see p75).


CO

SAL E
RI
-M -K

ALA
AL A AL

Garden
SALAH
A
I
AR

City SH As-Sayyida
Nile

Zeinab

* Many children are just as


The Pyramids of Giza
AN - NAS S E R

IA

Sayyida
S HARIA

AR

Zeinab
SH
R i ve r

spellbound by the Pyramids as


SIK

25 km S H AR IA TA R
M A G R A AL - U I Q
KE

(15 miles) YU N
TH

adults. The opportunity to go


ABD

A
AL - N I

DI
D
M

inside some pyramids and SH AR IA S AL


HE
LE

AH SA
SH
L

LW

City of
ICHE
G A MA

AR

AN

descend the passageways to the the Dead


IA A

20 km
CO R N

Coptic Cairo
IN A L-S

(12 miles)
buried chambers is particularly
A

Mar A
ARI

Girgis D IM
QA
exciting, as well as the horse
Y

IA M I S R A L -
SH

RA

SHAR

and camel rides (see pp12–13). 1 miles 0 km 1

57
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Fuul Centre Taamiya Right Mahalabiya

Egyptian Dishes
! Fuul
The most popular streetfood
snack in Egypt, fuul is a paste
of mashed broad (fava) beans
flavoured with garlic and olive oil.
It is ladelled out of large copper
pots, often into pockets of pitta
bread and typically sold as an
inexpensive takeaway sandwich.
Creatively presented kofta and lamb kebabs

@ Another Egyptian streetfood $ Shawarma


Taamiya

staple, known elsewhere as Like the Turkish doner kebab,


falafel, taamiya is made with shawarma is a large cone of
mashed fava beans and parsley pressed lamb or chicken that
(instead of chickpeas, which is rotated vertically in front
are used elsewhere around the of a flame grill. As the meat
Mediterranean). It is made in the is cooked it is sliced off and
shape of flat discs rather than mixed on a griddle with chopped
round balls and is typically eaten tomato, onion and parsley before
as a sandwich with salad. being rolled in a large disc of
flatbread and wrapped in foil

£ Koshari
A mix of rice, brown lentils
to take away.

and macaroni topped with fried


onions and a spicy tomato sauce, % Kofta and Kebab
Flame-grilled chunks of lamb
koshari is normally eaten in (kebab) and spiced minced meat
dedicated koshari restaurants made into a sausage and grilled
that serve the dish exclusively. on a skewer (kofta) are a
favourite Egyptian meal. It is
typically eaten with a simple
chopped tomato and cucumber
salad and a disc of flatbread.

^ Molokhiya
Hard to like on first encounter,
this is a soup made from mallow
leaves. Green in colour, it has a
thick, viscous texture. Egyptians
eat it with meat such as rabbit or
lamb. Fatimid Sultan Hakim found
the dish so unappetizing that he
Koshari had it banned in the 11th century.

58
& Pigeon
A traditional delicacy,
Top 10 Egyptian
Drinks
pigeons (hamaam) are bred
throughout Egypt in conical
pigeon towers. They are stuffed
! Limoon
A refreshing summer drink

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


of squeezed lemon juice, water
with seasoned rice or, even and sugar, served with ice.
better, bulgur wheat (freek)
before being grilled or baked.
@ Sahlab
A winter drink made from
the starch in the ground bulb
* Desserts
Egyptian desserts are quite
of an orchid, mixed with milk,
sugar and rosewater, then
light. Mahalabiya is a delicate garnished with chopped
rosewater-flavoured ground rice pistachios and cinnamon.
dessert, topped with toasted
nuts and cinnamon. Um Ali is £ Karkade
A drink that can be served
similar to the English bread and either hot or cold, made from
butter pudding but is less soft the boiled, dried leaves of the
and spongy as it is made with hibiscus plant, with sugar
local dry breads. Roz bi laban is added to taste.
rice pudding, which is always
served cold. $ Yansoon
An anise tea said to be
effective against colds.

% Fresh Fruit Juices


Juice stalls are common
throughout Egypt, serving
juices from pomegranate or
orange to guava or mango.

^ Sugarcane Juice
Even more popular (it’s
cheaper) than fruit juice is
A selection of baklava sugarcane juice (asab). The
cane is ground up and served

( Baklava
Egyptians are big fans of the
as a milky green liquid.

sticky, syrup-drenched, nut-filled & Tea


Tea (shai) is served strong
filo pastries known collectively and extremely sweet. For
as baklava. There are numerous Western-style tea ask for “shai
different kinds such as konafa, lipton”, made with a teabag.
which has a cream base and a
crunchy vermicelli pastry crust * Coffee
Traditional qahwa (coffee)
and basbousa, made of semolina is a Turkish-style coffee,
pastry soaked in honey and served sweet. For Western
topped with hazelnuts. coffee ask for “nescaf”.

) Fiteer ( Stella
Local Egyptian beer, a low-
Fiteer is a light, flaky multi- strength lager, is called Stella.
layered bread made from dough
stretched paper thin and folded
several times. It is served stuffed
) Mineral Water
Drinking bottled water
with minced meat or cheese or is recommended. Available
throughout the country, a 1.5
just plain, brushed with samneh litre bottle costs about £E3.
(ghee) or dusted with icing sugar.

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 59


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Felfela, Cairo Right White & Blue, Alexandria

Restaurants
! Abu al-Sid, Cairo
It is often said that Egyptian # Buddha Bar, Cairo
Sumptuous, striking and
cooking is a domestic cuisine, hip, Buddha Bar sets the standard
not especially suited to a high- for cool in Cairo. The split-level
class restaurant. Abu al-Sid restaurant is presided over by a
proves otherwise. This is a very giant smiling Buddha, while the
fashionable restaurant, decorated impressive outdoor terrace offers
in an Oriental style with hanging stunning Nile views. Asian fusion
lamps and brass tables, which food and the best sushi in town
has single-handedly made dining are on the menu, and a dazzling
out on traditional delicacies cocktail list aids the transition
fashionable. Specialities include from dining to dancing. The
stuffed pigeon and molokhiya Buddha’s signature ambient
with rabbit (see p79). music gives way to live DJs
later in the evening (see p79).

$ Felfela, Cairo
A long-standing favourite
with tourists as well as locals,
Felfela specializes in inexpensive
Egyptian street fare served in
fun surroundings consisting of
tree-trunk tables, aquariums of
tropical fish and terrapins, and
twittering birds in cages. This is
Aqua at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo the perfect restaurant to sample
traditional staples such as fuul,
taamiya and grilled pigeon. Try
@ Aqua at the Four Seasons
Nile Plaza, Cairo the hosniya, which is fuul with
Much of the best dining in Egypt egg and cream baked in the
is at the many five-star hotels. oven (see p79).
Those that stand out are the
Four Seasons establishments,
particularly Cairo’s Four Seasons % Osmanly at the Kempinski
Nile Hotel, Cairo
at the Nile Plaza (see p125), This Turkish restaurant features
which boasts four excellent a menu that’s both innovative
dining options, including Aqua, and authentic. It’s a welcoming,
a superb seafood restaurant with modestly sized, uncluttered
splendid views of the Nile and space perfect for a leisurely
an excellent sushi bar. At the feast. The wine cellar is well
entrance there is an impressive stocked and, uniquely in Cairo,
aquarium with exotic, brightly- all foreign wines can be ordered
coloured fish (see p79). by the glass (see pp79 & 125).

60 For information on Egyptian dishes see pp58–9


( 1886 Restaurant at the
Old Winter Palace, Luxor
For all its many other attractions,
the restaurants in Luxor are
rarely particularly memorable.

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


The exception is in the dining
room of the grand Old Winter
Palace hotel, where French
classic dishes are served in
elegant old-world surroundings.
Watch the sun go down behind
1886 Restaurant, Old Winter Palace, Luxor the Valley of the Kings on the
Nile-facing front terrace before

^ LaHoused
Bodega, Cairo
on the first floor of
dinner. Formal dress must be
worn (see pp53 & 106).
a belle époque apartment block
with high-ceilinged rooms, the
Bodega is a stylish restaurant, ) 1902 Restaurant at the
Old Cataract, Aswan
bar and cocktail lounge popular Like its near-neighbour Luxor,
with Cairo’s city slickers. Its Aswan offers few treats for
Aperitivo bar serves superb gourmets. Food is basic café
Italian cuisine, while the lounge fare in most establishments. The
menu revolves around well- exception is the house restaurant
prepared and impeccably fresh at the venerable Old Cataract
Mediterranean dishes (see p79). hotel. Here the menu is comprised
of excellent Continental European

& White & Blue, Alexandria


Alexandria is renowned for
standard fare and local fish
specialities. Best of all is the
its many fine fish restaurants, dining hall itself – a sumptuous
but what makes this restaurant Moorish fantasy with red and
particularly special is its location, white arches and fine mashrabiya
elevated above a small beach (see pp53 & 131).
and overlooking the fishing fleet
gathered in the harbour. The fare
is simple but very fresh and
satisfying. Guests choose their
own fish from a chiller cabinet
and wait while it’s fried, baked
or grilled. The entrance to the
restaurant is just opposite
Fort Qaitbey. d Map S1 • Greek Club,
Sharia Bahary • 03 480 2690 • £££££

* Al-Borg, Port Said


Al-Borg is a simple family
restaurant on the beach that
prepares only the freshest seafood,
including a great local variation on
bouillabaisse. The portions are
huge and prices are inexpensive.
d Map B1 • Sharia Tahr al-Bahr, Al-Arab
• 066 332 3442 • Closed dinner • ££££ 1902 Restaurant at the Old Cataract, Aswan

For a key to price categories see pp79 & 89 61


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Pharaoh’s Rally Right The sun illuminating the statue of Ramses II at Abu Simbel

Festivals and Events


! Ramadan
Ramadan is the Islamic month # Pharaoh’s Rally
Taking place every October,
of fasting. During daylight hours this is a gruelling week-long,
observant Muslims must not eat, 3,100-km (1,900-mile) motor
drink or smoke. The fast is broken vehicle race (including cars and
at sunset with iftar (breakfast), a motor bikes) through the Egyptian
meal usually enjoyed with all the desert, with the Pyramids as both
family. Although tempers can be starting and finishing point.
frayed during the day (especially Major car manufacturers and
when Ramadan falls during competitors come from all over
summer heat), it is a festive time the world to compete.
with many people out on the
streets until the early hours of the
morning. The celebrations peak $ Cairo International
Film Festival
with Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast An often chaotic and
to mark Ramadan’s end. disorganized celebration of local
and international film takes place

@ Sun Festival of Ramses II


On 22 February and 22
in November or December every
year in various cinemas across
October every year, the sun the capital. It is usually attended
penetrates 55 m (180 ft) into the by a bevy of Arab world and
innermost chamber of the Sun international film stars. The
Temple of Ramses II at Abu festival is hugely popular with
Simbel. It illuminates three of local Egyptians because the
the quartet of statues of seated festival screenings’ censorship
gods that lie deep in the laws are relaxed and international
innermost chamber (see p31). films are screened uncut.

Worshippers praying during Ramadan at the Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo

62
* Moulid of Abu al-Haggag
This festival honours Luxor’s
patron saint, whose mosque sits
on top of Luxor Temple (see p21).
Giant floats travel through the

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


densely packed streets, and there
is drumming, ritualistic stick fights
and horse races. The moulid
occurs the month before Ramadan
and so the date changes each year.

( Cairo International
Book Fair
Taking place every January or
Celebrations of the Prophet’s Birthday February, this is the biggest
cultural event on the Egyptian

% The Prophet’s Birthday


Also known as the Moulid
calendar, attracting publishers,
authors and buyers from all over
an-Nabi, this major holiday the world. Crowds turn up for the
celebrates the birth of the events programme of talks,
Prophet Mohammed. The streets reading, debates and lectures, and
burst into colour and noise. Like for the many stalls selling every-
all Islamic holy days, it follows thing from DVDs to streetfood.
the Islamic calendar, which is
about 11 days shorter than the
Western calendar. As a result, ) International
Marathon
Egyptian

Islamic holidays move forward Every January or February, when


every year compared with the it is about as cool as it ever gets
Western calendar. in Upper Egypt, this marathon is
held on the West Bank at Luxor.

^ Moulid of Al-Hussein
A moulid is a saint-
The start and finishing point is
the Temple of Hatshepsut.
worshipping festival taking the
form of riotous street parties,
complete with chanting, dancing,
music, fairground rides and
sideshows. It lasts several days,
culminating in the Leyla Kebira,
meaning “Big Night”. One of the
largest is focused on the Mosque
of Al-Hussein in Islamic Cairo.

& Eid al-Adha


This is a commemoration of
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice
his son as an act of obedience to
God. During the two-day holiday
Muslims slaughter a sheep or
goat and distribute the meat
among the poor. It is also a time
for visiting family and friends,
and for exchanging gifts. International Luxor Marathon

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 63


Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left King Farouk Right Fifi Abdou

Icons of Popular Culture


! Umm Kulsum
It is impossible to overstate
servant who nevertheless
managed to produce more than
the significance of Umm Kulsum, 30 novels as well as many short
the Arab world’s greatest ever stories and plays. In 1988 he
singer. Until she retired in 1972, became the first and only Arab to
she was the voice of the nation win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
for more than 30 years, and
when she died in 1975 her
funeral in Cairo drew two million $ Abdel Halim Hafez
Dubbed the “Dark
mourners out onto the streets. Nightingale”, Hafez (1929–77), was
one of the most popular Egyptian

@ Fifi Abdou
This much loved national
singers and actors not only in
Egypt but throughout the Middle
icon is renowned for her cheeky East from the 1950s to the 1970s.
and earthy belly dancing Like Um Kolsum, his music is
routines. Now too old to dance, still played on the radio daily.
Abdou has forged a successful
career as a TV and film actress,
usually playing the role of a % Adel Imam
Possibly Egypt’s most popular
“woman of the people”. film and stage actor, Imam has
been a star on screen since the

£ Naguib Mahfouz
Arguably the greatest 20th-
early 1960s. He has appeared in
more than 100 films, primarily as
century writer of the Arab world, a comedian. He shows no sign
Mahfouz was a life-long civil of decline and continues to secure
major roles in box-office hits.

^ Egypt’s Awakening
Mahmoud Mokhtar (1891–
1934) is considered the father of
modern Egyptian sculpture. His
most iconic work, Egypt’s
Awakening, which depicts a
peasant woman lifting her veil
with one hand as she rests the
other on a sphinx, stands near
Cairo University in Giza.

& Gamal Abdel Nasser


Following Egypt’s Revolution
in 1952 (see p43), Nasser (1918–
70) became a figurehead not just
Naguib Mahfouz for Egypt and the Arab World,

64
but for many African nations Top 10 International
struggling to emerge from
decades of colonial rule. Although
Pyramids
his policies and achievements
are now subject to debate, he
! The
Paris
Louvre Pyramid,

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


Architect IM Pei’s startling
remains, nearly 40 years after 1989 reworked entrance to
his death, adored by millions. France’s major museum.

@ The Luxor, Las Vegas


A luxury hotel and casino
in the form of a vast black
pyramid, opened in 1993.

£ Raffles, Dubai
A pyramid-shaped hotel,
linked to an ancient Egypt-
themed shopping mall.

$ The New Great


Pyramid, Dessau
Not yet built, a huge pyramid
that will house the cremated
remains of millions in Germany.

Gamal Abdel Nasser


% Transamerica
San Francisco
Pyramid,

A landmark 1970s skyscraper


* The Pyramids
The pyramids are the most in the form of an elongated
48-storey pyramid.
recognizable symbols of Egypt
and, if a controversial law is
passed, they will be confined to ^ The Bosnian Pyramid,
Visoko
Egypt. Since 2008 officials have Not a pyramid apparently but “a
been working to make it illegal to cruel hoax on an unsuspecting
public” according to debunkers.
produce replicas or sell images
of the Pyramids outside Egypt.
& The Great American
Pyramid, Memphis,
Tennessee
( Omar Sharif
Possibly the only Egyptian A multi-purpose arena modelled
on the Great Pyramid at Giza.
other than Tutankhamun whose
face is instantly recognized around
the world, thanks to roles in * The Gympie Pyramid,
Queensland, Australia
major international films such as Built by ancient Egyptians,
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Incas or Italian immigrants –
the debate rages on!
Doctor Zhivago (1965), Sharif is
back in Egypt appearing on TV
and making Arabic-language films. ( Ryugyong
Pyongyang
Hotel,

An unfinished pyramidal hotel


in North Korea, labelled “The
) Crowned in 1937, Farouk was
King Farouk
Worst Building in the History
of Mankind”.
the last proper king of Egypt. His
reign was brought to an end by
the 1952 Revolution. He has
) Funerary Pyramids
Fashionable in the 18th–
remained a subject of fascination 19th centuries, one of the finest
pyramid mausoleums is at
largely for his marriages, his Blickling Park, Norfolk, England.
lavish lifestyle and corrupt regime.

65
Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10

Left Cairo Opera House Centre A belly dancer entertains Right A cinema film poster

Entertainment
! Coffee Houses
Egypt’s traditional coffee $ Bars
Islam prohibits alcohol, but
houses (qahwa) are a million the choice of whether to observe
miles from Starbucks. The coffee this prohibition is left to the
comes in just two varieties – individual. Beer and wine are
with sugar and without – and is served in many restaurants, and
secondary to socializing, watching major cities have bars although
football, playing backgammon they tend to be hidden away
and smoking sheesha pipes. from the public gaze. Any tourist
They are the equivalent of the hotel will also have a bar.
English pub or French corner café.

@ Egyptian cinema is the


Cinema % Arabic Music
Cairo’s Opera House (see
p75) and Alexandria’s Sayed
Hollywood of the Arab world, Darwish Theatre stage many live
producing hundreds of films performances of Arabic classical
each year. Egypt’s many cinemas music. In Islamic Cairo, particu-
tend mostly to show local films, larly during Ramadan, there are
but the multi-screen venues in often music evenings at the Beit
the modern malls also show Zeinab Khatoun and Beit
subtitled imports. al-Sihaymi (see pp14–15 & 87).

£ Belly Dancing
Many hotels in Egypt have a ^ Spectator Sports
Football reigns supreme in
nightclub at which belly dancers Egypt. Top teams in the domestic
perform. Pyramids Road (Sharia leagues are Zamalek and Al-Ahly,
al-Ahram), which runs from Giza both in Cairo. Games are played
to the Pyramids, also has several on Fridays and watched in coffee
nightclubs featuring belly dancing. houses throughout Egypt.

A captivating performance by whirling dervishes

66
Top 10 Egyptian
Playlist
! Umm Kulsum Inta Omri
A 45-minute track by the

Cairo & the Nile’s Top 10


Arab world’s greatest ever
singer (see p64).

@ Abdel Halim Hafez


Banat al-Yom
A soundtrack to old black and
A traditional coffee house
white movies starring Egypt’s
beloved crooner (see p64).

& Folkloric Performances


The most unusual and
£ Amr Diab Best Of
compelling folkloric performance The brightest Egyptian
is given by the Whirling Dervishes, pop talent of the last 20 years.
who can be seen at the Wikala Meshit
al-Ghouri in Cairo (see p77). $ Ruby
Wara Ehsasy
Some hotels in Luxor and Aswan Second album by the much
put on folkloric shows. talked about young singer,
thanks to her provocative
lyrics and videos.
* Rock, Pop and Jazz
Al-Sawy Culture Wheel in
% Mohammed Mounir
Cairo has live music several Taam al-Bayoot
times a week by young, local Album by a ground-breaking
bands, and the Cairo Jazz Club singer, who combines Arabic
pop with his Nubian roots.
hosts regular live jazz (see p75).
Foreign cultural centres such as Yaho
the British Council and the ^ Hakim
Arabic shaabi (street-pop)
Alliance Française sometimes that launched the singer on
sponsor gigs, details of which can an international career.
be found in the local press.
& Ahmed
Zaqma
Adaweyah

( There’s a vibrant local art


Art Galleries One of the pioneers of the
shaabi sound, renowned for
mixing pop with social
scene in Cairo, with up to a
commentary: the title of this
dozen small galleries hosting album means “crowded”.
regularly changing and well
attended exhibitions. The best
of the galleries are Downtown
* Ali Hassan Kuban
Walk Like a Nubian
and in Zamalek (see p75). Nubian music isn’t listened to
much in Egypt but Kuban
(who died in 2001) enjoys a

) Sound and Light Shows


Every major site in Egypt
big international following.

presents a sound and light show


once the sun goes down. The
( Shaban Abdel Rahim
Ana Bakrah Israel
A former dry cleaner whose
monument is illuminated by political lyrics made him a
coloured floodlights while a huge star in the late 1990s.
recorded voice narrates snippets
Batwanese
of history and mythology. The
narration often leaves something
) Warda
Beek
A hugely loved and respected
to be desired but it’s worth grande dame of the pop scene.
revisiting the sites by moonlight.

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 67


AROUND
CAIRO &
THE NILE
Central Cairo

CAIRO & THE NILE’S TOP 10


70–79
The Old City
82–89
Beyond Cairo
90–95
Luxor
98–107
Aswan and
Lake Nasser
108–113
Around Cairo – Central Cairo

Left View of Cairo Opera House from Rhoda Island Right Detail of the façade of the Manial Palace

Central Cairo

U NTIL THE MIDDLE OF THE 19TH CENTURY Cairo was a walled medieval
city, with a street plan largely unaltered since the time of the Fatimids
(see p42). This changed with the rule of Khedive Ismail (1863–79), who had
been educated in France and wanted to reshape his capital into a modern
and smart city similar to Paris. Rather than try to impose order on the
existing city, he created an entirely new city with tree-lined boulevards,
squares and fine European architecture on the flood plain between the
medieval walls and the Nile. This remains the heart of central Cairo and is,
for the most part, compact enough to explore on foot. Since then the city has
crossed the Nile to the
Sights west bank and spread
1 Egyptian Museum 6 Manial Palace all the way to the foot
2 Downtown 7 Bulaq of the Pyramids, as well
3 Cairo Opera House 8 Mahmoud Khalil as extending far to
Complex Museum
4 Cairo Tower 9 The Nile the north and the
5 Zamalek 0 The Pyramids south in a series
of modern suburbs.
RA U
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NP(UNIVERSIT Y BRIDGE) Zeinab
PLOHV 
1 miles 0 km 1 Cairo Tower

70 Preceding pages Detail of columns of the temple at Kom Ombo,


near Aswan
! Egyptian Museum
Right at the heart of the £ Cairo Opera House
Complex
modern city, on Midan Tahrir Cairo’s original opera house
(Cairo’s main, traffic-choked was built in 1869 for the
square), is the country’s main opening of the Suez Canal

Around Cairo – Central Cairo


museum. It’s one of the top and was located Downtown
museums in the world, on what is still known as
thanks to an unequalled Midan Opera. It burnt to
collection of artefacts the ground in 1971 and it
from ancient Egypt, was only in 1988 that the
ranging from small pieces city finally got its new
of delicate jewellery to opera house, a stunning,
towering colossi of the modernist update on
pharaohs and the Islamic architecture,
Tutankhamun Galleries. designed and funded by
It is advisable to arrive the Japanese. It sits in
early to avoid the crowds A statue in front of the beautifully landscaped
and to allow as much Egyptian Museum grounds, which also
time as possible to see house the impressive
the exhibits (see pp8–11). Museum of Modern Egyptian
Art (see p75). d Map D–E4
• Opera House: Sharia at-Tahrir, Gezira,
@ Downtown
This is the 19th-century city 02 2739 0144, www.cairo opera.org
created by Ismail. It stretches • Museum of Modern Art: Cairo Opera
east of the Egyptian Museum House Grounds, Gezira, 02 2736 6667,
and is centred on two main open 9am–2pm, 5–9pm Tue–Sun,
intersecting streets: Sharia Talaat www.modernartmuseum.gov.eg, Adm
Harb and Sharia Qasr al-Nil. Both
are busy shopping streets, lined
with storefronts displaying gaudy $ Cairo Tower
For the best city views visit
clothing and shoes. Some of the this 1962 tower on the island of
architecture (see p73, Walk in Gezira, where a lift takes you
“Paris on the Nile”) is beautiful, 185 m (610 ft) up to a viewing
much of it in an Italianate style, platform. The panorama stretches
but it is very dilapidated as in from the cliffs of the Muqattam
recent times all investment and Hills, which constrain the city’s
growth has been concentrated spread to the east, all the way
in the suburbs. west to the Pyramids, which
mark the point at which
Cairo meets the desert.
The best time to go up
the tower is at sunset,
when millions of lights
twinkle into life and the
evening call to prayer
sounds out below from
a thousand or more
mosques. d Map E4
• Sharia Hadayek al-Zuhreya,
Gezira • 02 2736 5112 • Open
9am–1am in summer, 8am–
Midan Talaat Harb, Downtown midnight in winter • Adm

71
% Zamalek
The island in the middle of
Garden City
South of Midan Tahrir, Garden City
the Nile, just across from central is one of the most tranquil parts
Cairo, is known as Gezira (which of central Cairo. It was created in
is the Arabic word for “island”). the early 20th century by the
Around Cairo – Central Cairo

Occupying its northern half is the British as a garden suburb with


smart neighbourhood of Zamalek. curving, tree-lined streets meant
It has always been an enclave to evoke the country lanes of
England. It is home to several
enjoyed by privileged European
embassies, including the British,
residents and wealthy Egyptian Canadian and American.
families. The main street, Sharia
26th July, is the location of the
city’s best pizza restaurant, Maison
Thomas (see p78); the only real & Bulaq
Once the port of the Mamluk
Continental-style café, Simonds sultans, these days Bulaq is best
(see p78); the best bookshop, known for the pandemonium of
Diwan (see p75); and, in the back its souqs, which sell second-
streets, countless small fashion hand clothes and endless reams
boutiques and galleries. of cloth, as well as hardware, car
parts and food. Not for the faint-
hearted, this is another face of
Cairo, bustling and un-touristy,
yet hidden among the narrow
alleys is the serenely perfect
Mosque of Sinan Pasha. d Map F2

* Mahmoud Khalil Museum


Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil
(1876–1953) was a politician and
patron of the arts. He bequeathed
View of a street in Zamalek his grand riverside home and the
superb collection of sculpture

^ Manial Palace
The other island in the centre
and mostly French Impressionist
and Post-Impressionist paintings
of the Nile, a little way south of it contained to the state. Here
Gezira, is Rhoda, worth visiting hang works by Corot, Ingres,
for the Manial Palace, which sits Millet, Monet, Pissaro, Toulouse-
near the northern tip. Built by Lautrec and Sisley. d Map D5
Prince Mohammed Ali, uncle of • 1 Sharia Kafour, off Sharia al-Giza,
King Farouk, between 1899 and Dokki • 02 3748 2142 • Open 10am–6pm
1929, it is a monument to excess Tue–Sun • www.mkm.gov.eg • Adm
and eccentric taste. Five pavilions
are decorated in a variety of
Islamic styles, including Moorish,
Ottoman Turkish, Persian and
Syrian. There is also a grotesque
hunting museum that features
hundreds of mounted ibex heads,
as well as a hermaphrodite goat.
d Map E6 • Sharia al-Saray, Rhoda
• 02 2368 7495 • Open 9am–4:30pm
daily • Adm Mahmoud Khalil Museum

72
A Morning Walk in
“Paris on the Nile”
Beginning your walk at
Midan Tahrir, walk north
up Sharia Talaat Harb and

Around Cairo – Central Cairo


stop at Felfela Takeaway
(No. 15) (see p78) for a
breakfast of fuul sandwiches.
Ahead is Midan Talaat
Harb, named for the
nationalist banker whose
statue stands in the
middle of the square.
Here on the left-hand
side, golden Art Nouveau
mosaics glitter around the
entrance of Groppi, a
Pedestrian promenade by the Nile patisserie and chocolatier
in business on this site
since 1925. Continue up
( The Nile
The Nile is the heart of Cairo,
Sharia Talaat Harb, passing
on the right El Abd bakery
bisecting the city. On the east (No. 25) (see p77), makers
bank, the riverside Corniche of the best baklava and
al-Nil is one of the city’s main other Egyptian pastries in
north–south roads, making a town. Cross the busy
junction with Sharia Abd
walk beside the river anything Al-Khaliq Sarwat and on
but peaceful. However, over on the left, No. 34 is the
Gezira, a pedestrian promenade Yacoubian Building,
runs along the water’s edge. The immortalized in the book
best way to experience the river and film of the same name
(see p49). The name is
is to take a ride in a felucca, one above the doorway in the
of the small triangular-sailed boats entrance hall. Across the
used on the Nile since antiquity. road is the Art Deco
They can be hired by the hour at Cinema Metro, which
landing stages in front of the opened in 1939 screening
Gone With the Wind. Leave
Semiramis and Four Seasons Sharia Talaat Harb and
Nile Plaza hotels (see p125). head east along Sharia
Adly to pass the Babylonian-
styled Shaar Hashamaim
) The Pyramids
Half a century ago the Synagogue, evidence of
Egypt’s one-time large
Pyramids were a daytrip out and influential Jewish
of Cairo. Now the city stretches community. Bearing right
out to the paws of the Sphinx. at the next junction leads
In a taxi on empty roads, from down to pretty Midan
central Cairo to the Pyramids on Mustafa Kamel; turn right
again into Sharia Qasr al-
Giza Plateau, takes 15 minutes. Nil. Soon you reemerge at
The roads are rarely empty, Midan Talaat Harb, at which
however, and the journey more point head south down
often takes about an hour. It is Sharia Talaat Harb for lunch
worth the extra time in the car at Café Riche (No. 17)
(see p75), where the 1952
as there is more to see than Revolution was supposedly
just the Pyramids, including plotted, and which serves a
subsidiary temples, the Solar good simple lunch.
Boat Museum and the Sphinx.

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 73


Around Cairo – Central Cairo

Left Abdeen Palace Museum Right Islamic Ceramics Museum

More Cairo Museums


! Post Office Museum
Stamps and Egypt’s oldest ^ Abdeen Palace Museum
A former royal palace, this
postboxes are displayed here. museum houses silverware and
d Map H3 • Midan Ataba • 02 2391 0011 chinaware. d Map G4 • Sharia Abd
• Open 10am–2pm Sat–Thu • Adm al-Raziq, Abdeen • 02 2391 0130 • Open
9am–3pm Sat–Thu • Adm

@ Umm Kulsum Museum


A museum dedicated to the
& Islamic Ceramics Museum
diva (see p64) exhibits her dresses, A 1920s villa used by Nasser
letters, press clippings and has a as an office now houses historic
recordings archive. d Map L6 ceramics from Egypt, Iran,
• Sharia al-Malik Salih, Rhoda • 02 2363 Morocco and Andalucia. d Map D2
1537 • Open 9am–4pm • Adm • Sharia al-Gezira, Zamalek • 02 2737
3298 • Open 10am–2pm, 5–9pm
• www.icm.gov.eg • Adm
£ Mahmoud
Museum
Mokhtar

Many works by Egypt’s most


famous sculptor (see p64) are * Textiles Museum
Rare textiles from Pharaonic
shown in this museum, which to Ottoman times are on show.
doubles as the artist’s mausoleum. d Map J3 • Sharia al-Muizz il-Din Allah
d Map D4 • Sharia at-Tahrir, Gezira • 02 2786 5227 • Open 9am–3pm daily
• 02 2735 2519 • Open 9am–2pm, (9am–2pm, 3–7pm in winter) • Adm
5–9pm Tue–Sun • Adm

$ Adjacent to the Ramses train


Railway Museum ( Ethnological Museum
This museum is dedicated
to Egyptian daily life, with a
station is a hall with model trains, diorama of the opening of the
signalling devices and the private Suez Canal. d Map F5 • 109 Al-Qasr
royal carriages of some of Egypt’s al-Ainy • Open 9am–2:30pm Sat–Wed
former rulers. d Map G1 • Midan • www.egs-online.org • Adm
Ramses • 02 2576 3793 • Open
8am–2pm Tue–Sun • Adm
) Agricultural
I
H I LM

Museum
R i ve r N i l e

M E D IA
A H S HA R

% Museum of
Islamic Art SHA
RIA
SH
A R I A AS
-S
Ramses
Station
AB
T I YA R AM
SES
Several museums
on this site cover
SHARIA

26
JU
Mubarak
This is a superb Bedouin traditions,
CORN

LY
IA
AR

Nasser
SH
G AM AL

Ataba
museum of Islamic
ICHE

the High Dam,


A B D AL

decorative arts (see Mohammed


Naguib mummified animals
SHAR
AL-NIL

Opera
- NA S S

p46). d Map H4 • Midan and much else.


IA AL-
ER

Sadat
QALA

Bab al-Khalq • 02 2390 d Map H1 • Sharia Nadi


A S LIG
-M K H A
A
RI
le

AL AL-
Ni

9930 • Open 9am–4pm al-Seid, Doqqi • 02 3337


IA
er

AR

SH
Riv

Sat–Thu, 9–11am, 2–4pm 1 km


Sayyida
Zeinab
2933 • Open 9am–2pm
Fri • Adm (0.6 miles) Tue–Sun • Adm

74 For information on the main Cairo museums see p46


Around Cairo – Central Cairo
Left Cairo Opera House Right Al-Sawy Culture Wheel

Art and Culture Venues


! Mashrabiya Gallery
This gallery hosts regularly ^ Diwan Bookshop
Cairo’s best English-language
changing exhibitions of local and bookshop sells DVDs and CDs too.
foreign artists. d Map F3 • 8 Sharia d Map D2 • 159 Sharia 26th July, Zamalek
Champollion • 02 2578 4494 • Open • 02 2736 2598 • Open 9am–11:30pm
11am–8pm Sat–Thu

@ Cairo’s most adventurous


Townhouse Gallery & Cairo Opera House
The city’s main venue for
opera, dance and classical music
independent gallery shows the has several performance
works of some of the city’s best spaces, including an open-air
artists. d Map F3 • 10 Sharia Nabrawy, amphitheatre (see p71).
off Sharia Bassiouni • 02 2576 8086 • Open
10am–2pm, 6–9pm Sat–Wed, 6–9pm Fri
• www.thetownhousegallery.com * Museum of Modern
Egyptian Art
The 400 pieces on display in this

£ The best venue in Cairo to


Al-Sawy Culture Wheel museum in the Cairo Opera
House Grounds include work by
catch live music has local bands the major figures of Egyptian art
and artists performing at least a from the 20th century. Look out in
couple of nights a week. particular for the work of Mahmoud
d Map D2 • 1 Sharia 26th July, Zamalek Said (1897–1964) (see p71).
• 02 2736 6178 • www.culturewheel.com

$ A small venue famous for


Makan ( Arabic Music Institute
The institute houses a sound
archive of oriental music, a
its Tuesday and Wednesday folk museum devoted to composer
music nights. d Map F5 • 1 Sharia Abdel Wahab and a concert
Saad Zaghloul, Mounira • 02 2792 0878 space. d Map F3 • Sharia Ramses, just
north of Sharia 26th July • 02 2574 3373
• Open 10am–2:30pm Sat–Thu
% Cairo’s live jazz
Cairo Jazz Club
• www.cairoopera.org/
I
H I LM

club has bands arab_music.aspx • Adm


R i ve r N i l e

M E D IA
A H S HA R

taking the stage four SH


A R I A AS
Ramses
Station
-S AB
to six nights a week, T I YA R IA
S HAAM S E S
R
) Café Riche
SHARIA

Mubarak
CORN

performing mainly Nasser


Somewhat of a
G AM AL

Ataba
ICHE

jazz, but also some national monument,


A B D AL

blues and oriental this historic café is a


A L- N I L

Mohammed
Naguib
- NA S S

MIDAN
music. d Map H1 • 197 TAHRIR haunt of intellectuals,
SHAR
ER

Sadat
A S LIG

Opera
Sharia 26th July, Agouza
IA A

writers and artists.


-M K H A
RI
L- QA
le

AL AL-
Ni

• 02 3345 9939 • Open d Map F4 • 17 Sharia


LA A
IA
er

AR

SH
Riv

5pm–3am • www. Sayyida


Zeinab
Talaat Harb • 02 2392 9793
cairojazzclub.com • Open 10am–midnight

75
Around Cairo – Central Cairo

Left Heba Linens Right Bedouin-style jewellery at Nomad

Places to Shop
! Nomad
Nomad specializes in Bedouin- ^ Sound of Cairo
(Sot al-Qahira)
style jewellery, traditional crafts, This is probably the best shop
and clothes – a great shop for for Arabic music, classical or
unique gifts. d Map E2 • Cairo Marriott, pop, and has an extensive stock.
16 Sharia Saraya al-Gezira, Zamalek (also Look for a white-painted frontage
at 14 Sharia Saraya al-Gezira, Zamalek) with red Arabic lettering.
d Map F3 • 3 Sharia al-Borsa al-Gedida,
off Sharia Qasr al-Nil, Downtown
@ This boutique sells the work
Azza Fahmy Boutique

of Egypt’s best-known jeweller,


Azza Fahmy, whose stylish & Bashayer
This shop sells all things
pieces consist of traditional oriental, including ceramics, carved
elements and motifs with a wooden items, copper lamps,
contemporary twist. d Map D1 leather bags and rich fabrics. Doqqi
• 15C Sharia Taha Hussein, cnr of Sharia is a 10-minute taxi ride from Midan
Mohammed Marashli, Zamalek Tahrir. d 58 Sharia Mosaddeq, Doqqi

£ Heba Linens
This is the shop for excellent- * AlBeautifully
Qahira
crafted goods,
quality Egyptian cotton goods, from clothes to furnishings,
including sheets and towels. incorporating traditional Arabic
d Map E1 • Second Floor, Arcadia Mall, and modern Egyptian elements.
Corniche al-Nil, Boulaq (other branches d Map D1 • 6 Sharia Bahgat Ali, Zamalek
in the Semiramis Hotel and the Four
Seasons First Residence)
( Oum El Dounia
This is a treasure-trove of

$ And Company
This store is full of quality
handicrafts from all over Egypt
and Nubia, with a Francophone
cottons, beautiful artworks, ambiance. d Map F4 • 1st Floor,
ceramics and gifts. d Map D1 • 3A 3 Sharia Talaat Harb, Downtown
Sharia Baghat Ali, Zamalek
I

) Sharia Al-Qalaa
H I LM
R i ve r N i l e

M E D IA
A H S HA R

% Lehnert &
Landrock SHA
RIA
SH
A R I A AS
-S AB
Ramses
Station
T I YA
R AM
SES
This street has at
least a dozen shops
SHARIA

26
JU
Mubarak
A large selection LY
that sell traditional
IA
AR

Nasser
G AM AL

Ataba
SH

of prints of historic musical instruments,


COR
A B D AL

such as the oud (lute).


N IC H E

black and white


- NA S S

SHAR

Opera Sadat
images of Egypt 1 km Mohammed Many of the street’s
IA A
ER

AL-N

Naguib
A S LIG

(0.6 miles)
can be found in this cafés are musicians’
L- QA
-M K H A
IL

RI
le

LA A
AL AL-

haunts. d Map H3–5


Ni

downtown bookshop.
IA
er

AR

SH
Riv

d Map G3 • 44 Sharia Sayyida


Zeinab
• Sharia Al-Qalaa, off Midan
Sherif, Downtown Ataba, Downtown

76
Around Cairo – Central Cairo
Left Smoking sheesha Centre Pastries at El-Abd Right Feluccas on the Nile

Unmissable Experiences
! Drifting in a Felucca
After a hard day’s sightseeing ^ Smoking Sheesha
Once the preserve of adult
there’s no better way to unwind males, now everyone smokes
than by drifting on the Nile in sheesha. You can smoke one
your own private boat. For at any coffee house, but you
information about where to may prefer the more hygienic
hire a felucca see p73. surroundings of a hotel coffee
house or upmarket restaurant
such as Abu al-Sid (see p79).
@ Hearing the Muezzins’
Chorus at Dusk
You can’t fail to hear the
muezzins’ haunting dusk chorus & Whirling Dervishes
On Monday, Wednesday and
every evening, but to hear a Saturday evenings, the Wikala
particularly memorable rendition, al-Ghouri hosts the Al Tanoura Sufi
be at the top of the Cairo Tower dancers, some of whom can spin
as the sun goes down (see p71). for over 30 minutes. Arrive by
6:30pm for a free ticket (see p15).

£ Friday Prayers Downtown


About the only time that
* Friday Afternoon Football
the chaos of Downtown Cairo at a Coffee House
quietens is at noon every Friday For an electric atmosphere, take
for prayers. The traffic is brought a seat at any busy coffee house
to a standstill as devout Muslims on a Friday afternoon during the
roll their prayer mats out in the local football season (August–
street and prostrate themselves. May), particularly the coffee
houses at the top end of Sharia
Talaat Harb. d Map F–G3 • Sharia
$ Pastries from El-Abd
This bakery is probably the Talaat Harb, Downtown
most popular shop in all of Cairo.
Squeeze yourself in and order a
quarter kilo of baklava or konafa. ( AtheBeer in the Garden of
Cairo Marriott
d Map F3 • 25 Sharia Talaat Harb, The lovely garden café at this
Downtown hotel is a great place in central
Cairo for a beer after a day’s
sightseeing (see p125).
% Late-night Pizza at
Maison Thomas
Cairo truly does not sleep. People
are out on the streets chatting ) ADancing
Night at a Belly-
Club
and socializing until the early Sheherazade on Sharia Alfy Bey
hours. Many food places are is a notorious belly-dancing club
open way beyond midnight, if not which makes for a colourful and
24 hours, including this pizzeria memorable night out. d Map G3
and deli in Zamalek (see p78). • 1 Sharia Alfy Bey, Downtown

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 77


Around Cairo – Central Cairo

Left Maison Thomas Centre Abou Tarek Koshari Right A coffee at Cilantro

Cafés and Streetfood


! Felfela Takeaway
This is a favourite stop-off ^ Cilantro
This is a smart coffee house
for fuul and taamiya sandwiches, chain, which also serves cakes
as well as chicken and lamb and sandwiches and has Wi-Fi
shawarma. d Map F4 • 15 Sharia and local English-language
Talaat Harb, Downtown • £ newspapers and magazines.
d Map F4 • 31 Sharia Mohammed
Mahmoud, just off Midan Tahrir,
@ Abou Tarek Koshari
The king of koshari has been Downtown • 02 2792 4572 • ££
in business since 1950 and this
is Cairo’s biggest and smartest
koshari outlet. A very filling meal & Simonds
This is the closest to an
costs only a couple of Egyptian authentic Italian espresso bar in
pounds. d Map F3 • 16 Sharia Maarouf, Cairo. d Map D2 • 112 Sharia 26th July,
cnr of Sharia Champollion, Downtown Zamalek • 02 2735 9436 • £
• 02 2577 5935 • £

£ This is a good koshari with


Koshari al-Tahrir * Mandarin Khadeer
Refreshing and delicious
fruit sorbets and ice creams
several branches in Downtown. are the main attraction of this
d Map F4 • Midan Falaki, E of Midan Zamalek institution, but there are
Tahrir; Sharia Abdel Khalik Sarwat, just plenty of sticky pastries on offer
W of Sharia Talaat Harb • £ as well. d Map D1 • 17 Sharia Shagarat
al-Dor, Zamalek • £

$ Reputedly in business since


Maison Thomas

( Akher Saa
1929, this is still the best pizza This popular fuul and
restaurant in Cairo. Take away or taamiya takeaway also has a sit-
eat on the premises in a European- down restaurant area. d Map G3
style deli interior. Hot and cold • 8 Sharia Alfy Bey, Downtown • Open
sandwiches are also available. 24 hours daily • £
d Map E2 • 157 Sharia
I

26th July, Zamalek


H I LM

) Gad
R i ve r N i l e

M E D IA
A H S HA R

• 02 2735 7057 • Open


COR N IC H E AL-N

SH
A R I A AS
Ramses
Station
This is another
-S
24 hours daily • ££
AB S
Mubarak
T I YA
RA MSE takeaway with a sit-
SHARIA

down restaurant
IA
AR
IL
G AM AL

SH

% Fatatri Pizza Nasser Ataba attached, and it


A B D AL

at-Tahrir Opera
Mohammed
Naguib has a particularly
- NA S S

SHAR

This restaurant serves extensive menu.


ER

Sadat
IA A
A S LIG

both savoury and d Map F3 • 13 Sharia


-M K H A
L- Q
RI
le

A LA A

sweet fiteer. d Map F4


AL AL-
Ni

26th July, Downtown


IA
er

Sayyida
AR

SH
Riv

Zeinab
• Sharia at-Tahrir • Open • 02 2576 3353 • Open
24 hours daily • £ 24 hours daily • ££

78 For information on Egyptian dishes see pp58–9


Price Categories
For a two-course meal £ under £E30
for one with a soft ££ £E30–60
drink and including £££ £E60–120
service. ££££ £E120–250
£££££ over £E250

Around Cairo – Central Cairo


Above Floor 10 at the Kempinski Nile Hotel

Restaurants
! Abu al-Sid
One of Cairo’s most ^ Floor 10 at the Kempinski
Nile Hotel
fashionable restaurants has a This restaurant, in a top hotel
menu of Egyptian classics. Alcohol (see p125), has an adjacent
is served, as is sheesha (see champagne balcony. It is open
p60). d Map D2 • 157 Sharia 26th July, for dinner only. d Map E1 • Corniche
Zamalek • 02 2735 9640 • ££££ al-Nil, 12 Sharia Ahmed Ragheb, Garden
City • 02 2798 0000 • £££££

@ Aqua at the Four Seasons


Nile Plaza
& L’Aubergine
Dine at one of Cairo’s top hotels One of the few restaurants
(see p125), where the seafood in Egypt to cater for vegetarians
menu includes cashew nut- is this small eatery with an upstairs
encrusted John Dory (see p60). bar and a downstairs dining area.
d Map E5 • Four Seasons at the Nile The menu changes regularly.
Plaza, 1089 Corniche al-Nil, Garden City d Map D2 • 5 Sharia Sayed al-Bakri,
• 02 2791 6900 • Closed lunch • £££££ Zamalek • 02 2738 0080 • £££

£ Buddha Bar
With an exceptional Nile-side * Taboula
Serving the best Lebanese
setting, sublime Asian food and food in the city, this charming
great music, this is the coolest basement restaurant is warmly
place in Cairo (see p60). d Map E5 inviting. Alcohol is served.
• Sofitel el-Gezira, 3 Sharia el-Thawra d Map E5 • 1 Sharia Latin American,
Council, Gezira • 02 2737 3737 • ££££ Garden City • 02 2624 5722 • £££

$ Felfela
Felfela is treasured for its ( Abu Shakra
This popular chain serves
bric-a-brac decor and menu of charcoal-grilled meat for
Egyptian staples (see p60). takeaway or a sit-down meal.
d Map F4 • 15 Sharia Hoda Sharaawi, d Map F5 • 69 Sharia Qasr al-Ainy,
Downtown • 02 2392 Downtown
I

2751 • ££ • 02 2531 6111 • £££


H I LM
R i ve r N i l e

M E D IA
A H S HA R

Ramses
SH
AR IA A
S-S
Station

% This smart
La Bodega SES

) Andrea
ABT
SHA I YA R AM
RIA
SHARIA

26
JU Mubarak
LY
This open-air
IA
AR

Nasser
G AM AL

SH
COR

restaurant serves Ataba garden restaurant


NICH
A B D AL

Mohammed
international dishes Naguib near the Pyramids
E AL-NIL

Opera
- NA S S

MIDAN
SHAR

hard to find elsewhere TAHRIR serves grilled chicken


ER

Sadat
IA A

in Cairo (see p61).


A S LIG

and freshly baked


-M K H A
L- QA
RI
le

AL AL-
Ni

d Map E2 • 157 Sharia bread. d Map H2


LA
IA

A
er

AR

SH
Riv

26th July, Zamalek 10 km Sayyida • 59–60 Marioutiya Canal,


(6 miles) Zeinab
• 02 2735 0543 • ££££ Giza • 02 3383 1133 • £££

Recommend your favourite restauarnt on traveldk.com 79


Around Cairo – The Old City

Left Mosque of Amr Right Al-Azhar Park

The Old City

A ROMAN FORTRESS ORIGINALLY STOOD ON THE SITE OF CAIRO. Known as


Babylon-in-Egypt, it guarded a Nile crossing on the route to the ancient
Egyptian capital of Memphis (see p91). This was surrendered to the invading
armies of Islam in AD 640, who set up camp next door. The camp was made
permanent and was expanded north by successive Arab dynasties, culminating
in the walled city of Al-Qahira in 969, or Cairo. It is this area, from Babylon in
the south, now known as Coptic Cairo or Old Cairo, to the northern gates of
Al-Qahira, now known as Islamic Cairo, that make up the venerable core of
today’s city, representing almost 1,400 years of continuously inhabited
history – a mere fraction of
the age of the Pyramids,
but certainly worth a
few days of exploration.

A view of Islamic Cairo


ID
B

Ataba
AR

T SA
H

KUBRI
AT

PO R

6 OCTOBER
AL A
AL-NIL

IA T

SHA
R IA

R IA
SHA

AL-
AR

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3 The Citadel Zeinab


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the Dead
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0 Northern Cemetery Mar


A

Girgis
1 miles 0 km 1

82 Preceding pages View from the courtyard of Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo


! Islamic Cairo
Stretching several miles along
a north–south axis in the east of
Cairo, this part of the city retains
its medieval street pattern. The

Around Cairo – The Old City


main streets are being restored,
but most neighbourhoods remain
ramshackle, housing a way of life
largely unchanged in centuries.
Streets are studded with several
hundred monuments, from
Ottoman-era fountains to splendid
Mamluk palace complexes, most
of which are accessible to
visitors (see p87). At the heart of
it all is Khan al-Khalili souq and Mosque of Suleyman Pasha in the Citadel
Al-Azhar Mosque (see pp14–15).

@ This is Cairo’s chaotic and


Khan al-Khalili # The Citadel
Overlooking the city from a
rocky spur of the Muqattam
vibrant bazaar area, parts of which Hills, the Citadel is a sizeable
date back to the 16th century. Its fortress, which from its founding
covered passageways, stone gates in the 12th century, served as the
and labyrinthine alleys still have a royal residence and barracks until
wholly medieval feel. The trade the late 19th century. Its earliest
in spices, brightly coloured cloth, parts date back to the reign of
perfumes, gold and silver bears the ruler Salah ad-Din (Saladin),
little relation to the Western depart- but over the course of its history
ment store or supermarket. Of it was reorganized and enlarged
course, you have to haggle – you on numerous occasions. There
will pay over the odds if you don’t are three mosques to visit, as
– but it’s all part of the theatre. well as former palace buildings
d Map J3 • Most shops closed Sun am and museums (see p86).
d Map J6 • Sharia Salah Salem
• Open 8am–5pm • Adm

$ Al-Azhar Park
This beautiful park opened
to great acclaim in 2004. It has a
tall grassy hill at one end that
slopes down to an artificial lake
at the other end. It is landscaped
in classical Islamic fashion with
water features and flower beds,
but also has an amphitheatre,
children’s play area, a fine
restaurant (see p89) and cafés.
The views over Islamic Cairo are
superb. d Map J4–5 • Sharia Salah
Salem • 02 2510 3868 • Open 9am–2am
in summer (until midnight in winter)
Khan al-Khalili • www.alazharpark.com • Adm

83
The Copts
Before the arrival of Islam, Egypt
& Mosque of Amr
Egypt’s oldest mosque was
was Christian and its people were founded by Amr Ibn al-As, the
known as Copts. When the Arab Arab general who conquered
army occupied Egypt in AD 640, Egypt for Islam in AD 640.
Around Cairo – The Old City

its leader Amr instructed his Although it has been altered


people to take good care of the many times since and doubled in
Copts, for the Prophet himself size in 827, the Mosque of Amr
had given orders for them to do
today represents the beginnings
so. Today Copts make up
10 per cent of the nation. of Islam in Egypt. It remains a
very simple and humble structure.
Behind the mosque, which is just

% Coptic Cairo
The heart of the district of
a few minutes’ walk north of
Coptic Cairo, the surrounding
Cairo’s Coptic Christian community hard-mud wasteland is the site
centres on the Roman fortress of of Fustat, the first Arab city in
Babylon. The ancient gate towers Egypt. d Map M5 • Sharia Mar Girgis
of the former fortress provide • Closed for midday prayers Fri
access to a sunken compound
(evidence that the street level
has risen over the centuries), * Mosque of Ibn Tulun
Successive Arab dynasties
containing the Coptic Museum, expanded the original city of
numerous churches, a synagogue Fustat north. One of these was
and several cemeteries (see p88). the Tulunid dynasty (AD 868–905),
d Map M6 • www.coptic-cairo.com founded by Ibn Tulun, who was
sent to Egypt to govern on behalf

^ Coptic Museum
Founded in 1908, the museum
of the Abbasids of Baghdad. His
splendid mosque echoes those
houses an absorbing collection of his homeland of Iraq in its
representing a key period in world unique (for Egypt) minaret, which
history, when the old gods were has a staircase spiralling around
being replaced by Christianity. It the outside of the tower. It is
is housed in a beautiful building, possible to climb the minaret to
with exquisite painted ceilings and admire the view, not least of the
mashrabiya windows. The Old mosque’s great courtyard with its
Wing gives access to a Roman elegant arcades and fine central
tower known as the Water Gate. ablutions fountain. Next to the
d Map M6 • Sharia Mar Girgis • 02 2362 mosque is the Gayer-Anderson
8766 • Open 9am–4pm (5pm in summer) Museum (see p46). d Map G6 • Sharia
• www.copticmuseum.gov.eg • Adm Abdel Meguid • Open 8am–5pm daily

View from inside the courtyard of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun

84
A Stroll up the
Main Street of
Medieval Cairo
Take a taxi to “Al-Hussein”.

Around Cairo – The Old City


You will be let out beside
Al-Azhar Mosque; walk to
a footbridge over the road,
cross and take the side
street immediately in front,
from where you emerge
Interior of the Mosque of Sultan Hassan onto Sharia al-Muiz li-Din
Allah, the main street of
medieval Cairo. You can buy
( Mosque of Sultan Hassan
After Al-Azhar (see pp14–15),
spices, silver, gold, brass
or copper ware at the many
the other essential mosque to stalls that line the street in
visit is that of Sultan Hassan. Khan al-Khalili. Continue
Begun in 1356, its size rivals the up the street, to find, one
great cathedrals of Europe. It is next to the other, the
Madrassa–Mausoleum of
entered through a soaring portal Qalaoun, the Mosque of
with a stalactite hood, which an-Nasir Mohammed and
leads to a simple but impressive the Madrassa of Sultan
courtyard with four massive Barquq. These are three
arched recesses. The sultan lies splendid monuments from
the Mamluk era, all of which
at rest in his tomb chamber, to can be visited (see p87).
the right of the prayer niche. The A short distance ahead,
neighbouring mosque, Al-Rifai, the road divides at a small
although similar in scale to Sultan building with big grilled
Hassan, was built over 500 years windows on the right-hand
side: this is the Sabil-
later. d Map H5 • Midan Salah ad-Din Kuttab of Abdel Rahman
• Open 8am–4:30pm (closed for midday Kathkuda (see p87). Bear
prayers Fri) • Adm left and continue, passing
the small Mosque of Al-
Aqmar (see p87), then take
) Northern Cemetery
A lack of space caused
Darb al-Asfur on the right
to visit a fine old merchant’s
Cairo’s medieval rulers to build house, Beit al-Sihaymi
their funerary monuments (see p87), where you can
outside the city walls in the have tea in the courtyard.
desert. Here they created some Return to Sharia al-Muiz
li-Din Allah. After a short
of Cairo’s finest medieval time the road widens
monuments, from modest single- into a piazza beside the
chambered tombs to palatial walls of the Mosque of
complexes with multiple courts, Al-Hakim (see p87), built
minarets and domes. Less by a Fatimid sultan. The
mosque abuts the
exalted personages chose to be Northern Walls of the
buried here also, beside their original city of Al-Qahira;
rulers. Over the centuries the you can access the
homeless have moved into the ramparts via the nearby
tombs to the point today where gates (see p87). Return
the way you came, treating
the cemetery is a vibrant and yourself to lunch at the
living neighbourhood, usually Naguib Mahfouz Café in
referred to as the City of the Khan al-Khalili (see p89).
Dead. d Map Q3–6

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 85


Around Cairo – The Old City

Left The Citadel walls Right Mosque of Mohammed Ali

The Citadel
! Mosque of Mohammed Ali
Built between 1824 and ^ Military Museum
The Citadel’s main building
1848, this grand Turkish-style houses a collection of ceremonial
mosque continues to dominate uniforms and arms, as well as a
the Cairo skyline. Mohammed large-scale model of the fortress.
Ali is buried in a white marble
cenotaph just inside the entrance.
& Mosque
Pasha
of Suleyman

@ Mosque of Sultan al-Nasir


This low-rise building behind
This small 16th-century mosque
was built in a Turkish style soon
the Mohammed Ali Mosque is after the Ottoman takeover of
more than 500 years older than Egypt. The underside of its dome
its neighbour, dating back to is beautifully decorated.
1318–35. Its ribbed minarets
have beautiful Persian tiling.
* The Walls
The walls were begun by

£ Gawhara Palace
South of the Mohammed Ali
Salah Al-Din and expanded by his
nephew A-Kamil. It is possible to
Mosque, this small palace is vist the interiors of some towers.
decorated in a French style and
its rooms contain displays of
19th-century furniture and dress. ( Carriage Museum
This building (currently closed)
decorated with a row of horse-

$ Until 1952 the Citadel was a


Citadel Prison Museum heads houses six royal carriages,
the largest of which was given to
British army barracks. You can the Khedive Ismail by Napoleon IIII.
peep into the cells where
prisoners were once detained in
this museum. The most famous ) The Terraces
The views from the terraces
detainee was Anwar Sadat, who by the Mohammed Ali Mosque
later became president of Egypt across Cairo to the Pyramids are
(1970–1981) but who was spectacular on a clear day.
arrested for revolutionary activities.
DI D
AL- GA
B AB
IA
AR
SH

% This single-room museum


Police Museum Lower
Enclosure
Northern
covers some of Egypt’s most Enclosure
SHARIA SA

sensational crimes, including


those of Raya and Sakina,
M
LE
LAH AD-D

Southern
SA

Alexandrian sisters who were Enclosure


H
LA

serial killers and who murdered


SA
IN

IA
AR

30 women before being captured


SH

and executed in 1921.

86 For general background information about the Citadel see p84


Around Cairo – The Old City
Left Mausoleum of Qalaoun Centre Mosque of Al-Aqmar Right Sabil-Kuttab of Abdel Katkhuda

More Islamic Monuments


! Madrassa–Mausoleum
Sultan Qalaoun
of
^ Beit al-Sihaymi
Visit this restored house to
Built in just 13 months in 1284–5, see how a wealthy merchant lived
this grand complex marries scale in the 18th century. It is also the
with fantastic detailing, particularly venue for free weekly concerts
in the sultan’s mausoleum. d Map of Arabic music, every Sunday
J3 • Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah at 8pm. d Map J3 • 19 Darb al-Asfur,
off Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah • Open
9am–5pm • Adm
@ Mosque of al-Nasir
Mohammed
This mosque, built during the
reign of Al-Nasir Mohammed & Mosque of Al-Hakim
The Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim
(1293–1340), a son of Qalaoun, is bi-Amr Allah (996–1021) was
noteworthy for its minaret, which infamous for his strange laws
has fabulously intricate, lace-like and random acts of violence. His
decoration in a Moorish style. mosque is noted for its odd
d Map J3 • Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah pepper-pot minarets. d Map J3
• Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah

£ This grand religious school


Madrassa of Sultan Barquq

* Northern Walls
was completed in 1386. It is The northern walls date from
possible to go up to the roof and 1087 and are the most complete
ascend the minaret. d Map J3 part of the fortifications that once
• Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah encircled Al-Qahira. They include
two gates via which you can
ascend to the ramparts. d Map J3
$ Sabil-Kuttab of Abdel
Rahman Katkhuda • Sharia al-Galai • Adm
This graceful Ottoman structure
was a charitable institution
funded by a nobleman. The sabil ( Mosque, Madrassa and
Mausoleum of Al-Ghouri
(public fountain) was on the The striped twin buildings of this
ground floor, while the kuttab complex were built in 1505 by the
(primary school) was upstairs. last Mamluk sultan Al-Ghouri.
d Map J3 • Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah d Map J4 • Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah
• Open 9am–5pm • Adm

% This pretty mosque


Mosque of Al-Aqmar

) Bab Zuweyla
supposedly gets its name (“the This is one of the original
moonlit”) from the way its masonry gates of the city of Qahira. Its
would shine in the moonlight. It two minarets were added later –
is one of the oldest buildings in they can be ascended for marvel-
the area, dating back to 1125. lous views over Islamic Cairo.
d Map J3 • Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah d Map J4 • Sharia Ahmed Mahir • Adm

For more information on Islamic Cairo see pp82–5 87


Around Cairo – The Old City

Left An Orthodox cemetery Centre Church of St Barbara Right Hanging Church

Coptic Cairo
! Hanging Church
Suspended above the ^ Church of the Virgin
This small 18th-century
compound’s Water Gate (see p84), church is notable for several fine
parts of this church may date icons. d Map M6 • Open 9am–4pm
back to the 4th century. Look out
for the black thirteenth pillar
supporting the pulpit, representing & Church of St Barbara
This lovely 11th-century
Judas. d Map M6 • Open 9am–5pm. church, dedicated to a 3rd-
Coptic mass: 8am Fri, 7am Sun century saint who was executed
for preaching Christianity, houses

@ Roman Towers
The main entrance to the
some fine icons, although the
most precious items were
Coptic Cairo compound is removed to the Coptic
between the two circular towers Museum (see p84). d Map M6
of Babylon’s western gate. The • Open 8am–8pm
righthand tower is in ruins, while
the other forms the base of the
Church of St George. d Map M6 * Ben Ezra Synagogue
Originally a church sold to
pay off taxes, this building

£ This is the only round church


Church of St George became a synagogue in AD 882.
In the 1990s it was extensively
in Egypt, built that way because and lavishly restored. d Map M6
it sits on one of the original • Open 9am–4pm
fortress gate towers. The current
church dates to 1904, replacing a
10th-century church destroyed by ( The Cemeteries
East of the Coptic Museum
fire. d Map M6 • Open 8:30am–4pm and churches are three conjoined
cemeteries still used by people

$ Convent of St George
Although still a working
of the Greek Orthodox, Greek
Catholic and Coptic faiths. Many
nunnery, several rooms are open of the tombs are marked with
to visitors, including a medieval statues and mausolea. d Map M5–6
hall and a chapel with a casket
claimed to contain relics of St
George. d Map M6 • Open 9am–4pm ) Nilometer
Near Coptic Cairo, cut into
the bedrock at the southern tip

% Sunk below street level, this


Church of St Sergius of Rhoda, this was used to record
the rising of the Nile water by the
5th-century church is Egypt’s ancient Egyptians. Its present
oldest. Steps descend to a form dates to the 9th century
crypt where the Holy Family is and is decorated with Koranic
supposed to have taken shelter. verses. d Map L6 • Sharia al-Malik
d Map M6 • Open 8am–4pm Salih, Rhoda • Open 9am–5pm • Adm

88 For general background information on Coptic Cairo see pp84–5


Price Categories
For a two-course meal £ under £E30
for one with a soft ££ £E30–60
drink and including £££ £E60–120
service. ££££ £E120–250
£££££ over £E250

Around Cairo – The Old City


Above Fishawi’s

Cafés and Restaurants


! Fishawi’s
Cairo’s oldest and most ^ Al-Dahan
Serving some of the best
famed coffee house fills a narrow basic kofta and kebabs in Midan
alley in Khan al-Khalili. It claims al-Hussein, Al-Dahan can be
never to have closed in over found underneath the Al-Hussein
200 years. d Map J4 • Midan al- Hotel. d Map J4 • Midan al-Hussein,
Hussein • 02 2590 6755 • £ entered from the passage that leads to
Fishawi’s coffee house • ££

@ Egyptian Pancake House


This popular eatery serves
& Lakeside Café
fiteer topped with your choice of This pleasant café occupying
cheese, egg, tomato and ground several pavilions and a courtyard
meat. For dessert, choose from overlooking a man-made lake in
raisins, coconut and icing sugar. Al-Azhar Park serves light
d Map J4 • Midan al-Hussein • ££ Oriental meals and snacks.
d Map J4 • Al-Azhar Park, Sharia Salah
Salem • 02 2510 9162 • £££
£ Providing air-conditioned
Naguib Mahfouz Café

tranquility in the middle of Khan


al-Khalili, this café with copper- * Gad
A branch of the popular fuul
top tables serves mainly and taamiya chain that has
sandwiches and refreshing cold restaurants all over Cairo (see
drinks. d Map J3 • 5 Siqqet al-Badestan p78). d Map J4 • Sharia al-Azhar, near
• 02 2590 3788 • ££ Al-Azhar mosque • ££

$ Khan al-Khalili Restaurant


Adjacent to and under the ( Abu Bassem Grill
This restaurant serves great
same management as the Naguib kebabs and meze and has an
Mahfouz Café, this restaurant outside area, while diners inside
serves international and Egyptian can enjoy the restaurant’s
dishes, notably grilled meats. medieval interior. d Map J4
d Map J3 • 5 Siqqet al-Badestan • 2 Zuqqaq al-Gahini, Midan al-Hussein
• 02 2590 3788 • ££££ • 02 2593 7935 • ££

% Citadel View Studio Misr


In a grand faux-Mamluk ) Rifai
This humble eatery at which
building, and with commanding diners sit at tables laid out in the
views over Islamic Cairo and the street is regarded by many
Al-Azhar Park, this restaurant Cairenes as the city’s best kebab
serves grilled meats and meze. restaurant. d Map G5 • Sharia al-
It has a terrace for alfresco Barrani (opposite the Sayyida Zeinab
eating too. d Map J4 • Al-Azhar Park, mosque), Midan Sayyida Zeinab • Closed
Sharia Salah Salem • 02 2510 9150 • ££££ lunch • ££

For information about Egyptian dishes see pp58–9 89


Beyond Cairo

Left View across the Suez Canal from Port Said Right Red Pyramid, Dahsur

Beyond Cairo

C AIRO LIES JUST SOUTH OF THE POINT AT WHICH THE NILE DIVIDES into two
main branches that create a fertile fan between them, known as the
Delta, spreading north to the Mediterranean. This is an area in which life has
flourished throughout history. The apex of the Delta was the site of the first
great imperial city of ancient Egypt, Memphis, which has now almost
completely vanished. We get some intimation of its glory and vastness
thanks to the city’s great necropolises of Saqqara and the various
pyramid fields that remain. The Delta itself was
where later pharaohs created new capitals,
Alexander founded his new city, Alexandria (at the
point at which the Delta met the sea) and early
Christianity flourished. All of these places can be
visited as day trips from Cairo.

Sights
1 Memphis 6 Ismailia
2 Saqqara 7 Wadi Natrun
3 Dahshur 8 Abu Sir
4 Fayoum 9 Birqash Camel Market
5 Port Said 0 Alexandria
Colonial architecture, Ismailia

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90
! Memphis
Not much remains of the
ancient city of Memphis, the
capital of Egypt during the Old
Kingdom. It is thought to have

Beyond Cairo
been founded about 3100 BC by
King Menes, the ruler who united
Upper And Lower Egypt. From
historical accounts we know that
it was a city of grand palaces
and temples, which were all torn
down by foreign invaders from
the Romans onwards, and the
ruins were buried. What remains
today is gathered in a small
open-air museum, the centrepiece Colossus of Ramses II, Memphis
of which is a colossal statue of
Ramses II, which lies in its own
special viewing pavilion. d Map J2 £ Dahshur
The two pyramids at Dahshur
• Off Hwy 27, 47 km (29 miles) S of Cairo were built by the 4th-Dynasty
• Open 8am–4pm • Adm king Sneferu, father of Khufu, the
builder of the Great Pyramid (see
pp12–13). The Bent Pyramid, thus
@ Saqqara
One of the richest known because its sides start
archaeological sites in Egypt, steeply, then switch part way to
Saqqara was the royal burial ground a shallower slope, is considered
for some of the earliest rulers and to be Egypt’s first proper pyramid,
their courtiers. This is the site of as before this all pyramids were
Egypt’s prototype pyramid, a stepped. The other monument is
stepped structure built for King known as the Red Pyramid due
Djoser. The necropolis remained to its ancient red graffiti. Both
in use for some 3,000 years can be entered and explored.
throughout the Pharaonic era, with d Map H2 • Off Hwy 27, 64 km (40 miles)
additions being made as late as S of Cairo • Open 9am–5pm in summer
the Graeco-Roman period. It merits (until 4pm in winter) • Adm
at least half a day’s visit (see p94).
d Map J2 • Off Hwy 27, 44 km (27 miles)
S of Cairo • Open 8am–5pm in summer $ Fayoum
Fayoum is Egypt’s largest
(until 4pm in winter) • Adm oasis and a popular spot for
second homes for Cairenes. A
prime location is a site overlooking
Lake Qarun, which is at the heart
of the oasis and home to an
amazing variety of bird species.
Visitors should head for Kom
Aushim, where you can visit the
remains of 3rd-century BC
crocodile temples – the Greeks
named this area Crocodilopolis,
after the animals that lived in the
lake (now long gone). d Map A2
Step Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara • Off Hwy 27, 100 km (62 miles) S of Cairo

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 91


Beyond Cairo

Deir Anba Bishoi monastery, Wadi Natrun

% Port Said
Founded in 1859 to house & Wadi Natrun
Prized by the ancient
Suez Canal workers, Port Said is a Egyptians as a source of the
major harbour. Its most prominent salt deposit natron, a vital
building is the green-domed Suez ingredient in the mummification
Canal Authority Building, from process, this remote valley just
where all shipping is monitored. west of the Delta region was
The fish restaurants are Egypt’s later equally valued by the early
best and the Military museum is Christians as a hiding place from
worth a visit (see p93). d Map B1 persecution by the Romans.
• 225 km (139 miles) NE of Cairo Initially they sheltered in caves,
later building monasteries, of

^ Ismailia
Halfway along the length of
which four remain today.
Each monastery has a full
the Suez Canal, Ismailia was complement of monks and three
founded to house the workers on of the monasteries welcome
the canal in the 1860s. It is an visitors. d Map A2 • Off Desert Hwy,
extremely pretty town, with plenty 100 km (62 miles) NW of Cairo
of greenery surrounding European-
style houses. The Ismailia Museum
houses Graeco-Roman artefacts * Abu Sir
The four pyramids at Abu Sir
and items relating to the canal’s were built in the 5th Dynasty,
history. d Map B1 • 120 km (74 miles) and therefore date after the three
NE of Cairo • Ismailia Museum, Sharia great monuments at Giza. These
Salah Salem, Open 9am–4pm, Adm pyramids are much smaller than
their Giza counterparts and are
Egypt and the Camel very dilapidated. However, the
Although it has become part of isolated location on a sandy
the iconography of Egypt, the desert ridge rising away from the
camel is not native to the country. palm groves of the Nile plain
In fact, it is a relative latecomer. lends this little visited site great
Pharaonic tomb paintings show charm. The northernmost and
lions and hippos, as well as other best-preserved Pyramid of
creatures now extinct in Egypt, Sahure can be entered, although
but not camels, which were then
this is not recommended for
unknown. Historians believe that
they were introduced by the claustrophobics. d Map J2 • Off
invading Persians. Hwy 27, 27 km (17 miles) S of Cairo
• Open 8am–sunset • Adm

92
( Birqash Camel Market
A visit to Egypt’s largest
A Day Beside
the Suez Canal
camel market is a truly memorable
in Port Said
experience. Hundreds of camels
are sold at Birqash every Morning

Beyond Cairo
Monday and Friday morning (the Start your day near the
main day is Friday). The camels green-domed Suez Canal
are brought in their thousands Authority Building on the
edge of the canal. From
from northwestern Sudan in a here, take a fun, free ride
month-long trek to Aswan, from across the canal and back,
where they are then trucked up courtesy of the car ferries
to Cairo. They are bought as that shuttle back and forth
mounts, but also for their meat. every 15 minutes between
here and the far shore.
The best way to get to the Returning to where you
market is by organized tour or a started, head north along
taxi hired for half a day. d Map A2 the canal on Sharia
• Off Mansuriya Canal Road, 30 km Filisteen, passing at
(18 miles) NW of Cairo • Open mornings No. 43 the Tourist Office
(open 9am–2pm Sat–Thu),
from 6am Mon & Fri • Adm
where you can pick up
a good map. As you
continue to walk
northwards, look out for
the faded façade of the
Simon Artz department
store and the imposing
monolith of the lighthouse.
Continue to the end of the
pedestrian promenade,
where you will encounter
an empty sandstone plinth
on which a statue of
Ferdinand De Lesseps,
French builder of the canal,
Birqash Camel Market once stood before it was
hauled down after the
1952 Revolution. From
) Alexandria
After defeating the Persians
here, hop in a taxi for a
five-minute drive to Al-Borg,
in 332 BC, Alexander the Great the best seafood restaurant
founded his new capital city on in Egypt (see p61).
the Mediterranean coast that Afternoon
same year. Under his successor Head inland to main Sharia
Ptolemy and the dynasty he 23rd July and follow it
founded, it became the most west. Stop at the small
important city of the ancient Military Museum (open
9am–3pm Sat–Thu), which
world – an economic, political
has exhibits relating to the
and cultural rival to Rome. After Arab-Israeli wars. Then
falling into decline in the 4th cut diagonally across the
century, it was revived in the main plaza and continue
19th century, drawing thousands south to the town’s bazaar,
of Europeans. Although little of where, as well as cheap
goods, you’ll find many
its ancient heritage remains, there traditional Port Said
is still plenty to see in modern buildings fronted by multi-
Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest storey wooden balconies.
city after Cairo (see p95). d Map A1

93
Beyond Cairo – Saqqara

Left Step Pyramid Right Interior of the Mastaba of Ti

Saqqara
! Step Pyramid
The centrepiece of Saqqara ^ Tomb of Mereruka
This is the tomb of King
is the Step Pyramid, the first Teti’s son-in-law. It has 33
pyramid in Egypt. Built in the chambers and some magnificent
27th century BC by the architect wall paintings, including a hunting
Imhotep for the 3rd-Dynasty King scene in a marsh, as well as
Djoser, it marks a leap forward in a life-size statute of Mereruka
the history of world architecture. striding from a false door.

@ Step Pyramid Court


This is a vast enclosure with & Tomb of Ankhma-Hor
This is also referred to as
a corridor of 40 columns and a the “Physician’s Tomb” because
reconstructed boundary wall, part of its fascinating wall reliefs
of which bears a frieze of rearing depicting surgical operations.
cobras. On the north side, a These include surgery being
stone box (serdab) contains a performed on a man’s toe and,
life-size statue of King Djoser. apparently, a circumcision, as
practised over 4,000 years ago.

£ Pyrmaid of Unas
Unas was the last king of
* Serapeum
the 5th Dynasty. His pyramid A series of long, dark
contains the earliest known passageways house giant granite
examples of decorative writing. sarcophagi. Weighing up to
It is closed to the public but 70 tonnes each, these once
many of the tombs that line the contained mummified corpses
causeway are open to visitors. of bulls seen as an incarnation of
Ptah, god of Memphis.

$ Persian Tombs
These are some of the
( Mastaba of Ti
deepest underground burial This is the tomb of a court
chambers in Egypt. They belong official who served three kings
to three officials of the 27th during the 5th Dynasty. It has
Dynasty, which was founded by wall paintings that are unrivalled
the Persians in 525 BC. The tomb for the information they provide
walls bear colourful inscriptions. about life in ancient Egypt.

% Pyramid of Teti
The 6th-Dynasty pyramid has ) Imhotep Museum
This small museum has a
collapsed but the interior chambers short introductory film to the
can be visited. The walls are site, a large-scale model of the
decorated with the earliest Step Pyramid complex as it
examples of ancient funerary originally was and some superb
writings accessible to the public. artefacts uncovered at Saqqara.

94 For general information about the site of Saqqara see p91


Beyond Cairo – Alexandria
Left Fort Qaitbey Right Roman amphitheatre at Kom al-Dikka

Alexandria
! Biblioteca Alexandrina
This library is worth visiting ^ Pompey’s Pillar
All that is left of the Serapeum,
for its architecture, Antiquities Classical Alexandria’s main
Museum, Manuscript Museum temple complex (described as
and temporary exhibitions. being second only to the Capitol
d Map T2 • Corniche, Chatby • 03 483 in Rome), is this pillar of red Aswan
9999 • Library open 11am–7pm Sat–Thu, granite, erected about AD 297.
3–7pm Fri; Antiquities Museum open d Map R–S3 • Sharia Ahmed al-Sawari,
9am–7pm Sun–Thu, 1–7pm Fri, Karmous • Open 9am–5pm • Adm
11am–7pm Sat • www.bibalex.org • Adm

@ This pretty 15th-century fort


Fort Qaitbey & Kom al-Dikka
This is an ancient hill that
has been excavated to reveal a
sits on the site of the Pharos, small semi-circular Roman theatre.
which was an ancient skyscraping On another part of the site are
lighthouse once regarded as one mosaics depicting birds. d Map S2
of the Seven Wonders of the • Sharia Yousef • Open 9am–5pm • Adm
Ancient World. d Map S1 • Eastern
Harbour • Open 9am–5pm • Adm
* Cavafy Museum
Constantine Cavafy (1863–

£ Graeco-Roman Museum
This museum contains
1933) was a Greek Alexandrian
poet of international renown. This
about 40,000 items covering the museum is in the flat where he
history of Alexandria (see p47). spent his last years. d Map S2
d Map T2 • 5 Al-Mathaf al-Romani • 4 Sharia Sharm al-Sheikh, off Sharia
• 03 486 5820 • Closed for renovation Nabi Daniel • Open 10am–3pm Mon–Wed,
until 2012 • www.grm.gov.eg • Adm Fri & Sat, 10am–5pm Thu & Sun • Adm

$ Alexandria
Museum
National
( Royal Jewellery Museum
A glittering array of treasures,
One of Egypt’s newest museums including a platinum crown inlaid
has well-displayed artifacts (see with over 2,000 diamonds, are on
p47). d Map T2 • 110 Tariq al-Horreya show in a villa that used to belong
• 03 483 5519 • Open 9am–5pm to Fatma Al-Zahraa. d 21 Sharia
• www.alexmuseum.gov.eg • Adm Ahmed Yehia Pasha, Gleem • 03 582 8348
• Open 9am–2:15pm, 5–6:15pm • Adm

% Catacombs
as-Shoqafa
of Kom

) Midan Ramla
This fascinating underground burial This square at the heart of
complex dating from the 2nd Alexandria is ringed by splendid
century AD has carved Medusa early 20th-century institutions,
heads. d Map R3 • Sharia al-Nasseriya, notably the Trianon patisserie
Karmous • Open 9am–5pm • Adm and tearoom. d Map S2

For general information about the city of Alexandria see p93 95


Around the Nile – Luxor

The mortuary temple of Ramses II, the Ramesseum

Luxor

D ESPITE THE LARGE NUMBERS OF TOURISTS IT ATTRACTS, Luxor is little


more than a small town on the banks of the Nile. Hundreds of
thousands of international visitors flock here to marvel at what the modern
town was built upon, which is the spectacular ruins of Thebes, vast capital of
the pharaohs during the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC). Only two temples
remain – Luxor Temple in the heart of the town and the Karnak temple
complex just north of the town.
Both were renowned throughout
the ancient world and have
attracted visitors ever since
ancient Greek and Roman times.
Even more extraordinary are the
sites on the West Bank, which is
where the pharaohs built their
grand funerary temples and
tombs. Cross by ferry or over the
road bridge. Tickets for these
monuments need to be bought in
advance from a ticket office on
The Colossi of Memnon the West Bank.

Sights
1 Karnak
Dra’ Abul Al-Jebanah
Naga 2 Luxor Temple
3 Luxor Museum
4 Mummification
P a th

l
ana
dy

Museum
San

aC

5
adiy

Valley of the Kings


KARNAK
Al-F

Nag Lohlah 6 Ramesseum


e

R N AK
Nil

Al-Tod
KA
er

AL
-
7 Temple of Hatshepsut
Riv

RIA
HA
S

Al-Kom Gezira
M ES 8 Medinat Habu
AH
LUXOR
9 Colossi of Memnon
IA
AR

Ezba
SH

0 Tombs of the Nobles


AL-NICHE
IL
N
C OR

1 miles 0 km 1

98 Preceding pages View of Aswan and the Nile


£ Luxor Museum
Situated on the Corniche
halfway between Luxor Temple
and Karnak, this modern, purpose-
built museum exhibits an excellent

Around the Nile – Luxor


collection of statuary and artefacts,
almost all of which were found in
tombs and temples in the Luxor
area. Unlike most other museums
in Egypt, the presentation is
world-class, with pieces well lit
and informatively labelled in
Hypostyle Hall in the Temple of Amun, Karnak multiple languages, including
English. A visit here will greatly

! Karnak
The greatest of all Egypt’s
enhance your appreciation of
Luxor’s many monuments (see
ancient monuments is this vast p47). For a description of the
complex of multiple temples, museum’s best items, see p102.
courts and shrines. Karnak was a d Map Z1 • Corniche al-Nil, East Bank
political, religious and military • 095 237 0569 • Open 9am–2pm,
powerbase, home to the 5–9pm in summer; 9am–2pm, 4–9pm
pharaoh, the high priests and an in winter • Adm
enormous corps of administrators.
Pharaohs from the 12th to the
22nd Dynasty ruled from here, $ Mummification Museum
Although not large, this
including Ramses II and museum manages within a
Tutankhamun, and most of them relatively compact space to
left their mark in some way. explain not only the methods of
There is so much to see that it is mummification – occasionally in
worth visiting both by day and quite alarming detail – but also
again by night for the Sound and the reasons for it. Choice ancient
Light Show (see pp16–17). artefacts illustrate the texts,
including materials and tools

@ Luxor Temple
The modern town has
used in the mummification
process. The symbols and
grown up around this temple, icons of the afterlife are also
which occupies a prime, clearly explained via pictorial
central spot beside the Nile. boards. There are also
It exerts a commanding plenty of intriguing, fun
presence, acting as a exhibits, including a
constant reminder of how mummified cat and ram,
much in thrall to the a cross-section of a
pharaohs the modern mummified skull stuffed
town remains. Majestic with material where the
by day, the temple takes brain has been removed
on an unearthly quality by and a piece of a mum-
night when precision mified toe (see p47).
flood lighting adds drama d Map Y2 • Corniche al-Nil,
to the huge stone East Bank • 095 238 1501
figures and the carved • Open 9am–2pm, 5–9pm in
reliefs that cover most Colossus of Ramses II, summer; 9am–2pm, 4–9pm
surfaces (see pp20–21). Luxor Temple in winter • Adm

99
Around the Nile – Luxor

The impressive mortuary temple of Ramses III, Medinat Habu

% Valley of the Kings


By digging their tombs deep & Temple of Hatshepsut
Against its stark mountainous
into the Theban Hills the pharaohs backdrop, the partly rock-hewn
hoped to stop robbers stealing Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
the priceless possessions buried is an awe-inspiring sight and one
with them. It was an unsuccessful of the most popular monuments
strategy. Every burial chamber on the West Bank. It was
discovered to date had been designed by Queen Hatshepsut’s
raided except for those of Yuya architect Senenmut in the 18th
and Thuya and Tutankhamun Dynasty. The temple was
(see p40–41). The vacant tombs damaged by Ramses II and his
are fascinating, with the corridor successors, and Christians later
walls and burial chambers turned it into a monastery
stunningly adorned with painted (hence its alternative name,
reliefs designed to help the Deir al-Bahri, which means
pharaoh navigate the “Northern Monastery”). Ongoing
Underworld (see pp24–5). restorations of the site have done
much to revive former glories and

^ Ramesseum
Ramses II was ruler of Egypt
have revealed some exquisite
decoration (see pp22–3).
for 67 years and he built his
mortuary temple as a statement
of his eternal greatness. The * Medinat Habu
It is a great mystery why
huge complex dedicated to this magnificent mortuary temple
Amun, which took almost 20 years raised by Ramses III is not
to build, now lies mostly in ruins visited more. It is second in size
with only some columns still only to Karnak, and is in a far
standing (see p38). d Map V3 more complete state than the
• 1 km (0.6 miles) NE of West Bank ticket nearby Ramesseum, on which
office • Open 6am–5pm • Adm Medinat Habu is modelled.
Ramses III’s military campaigns
Crossing the Nile are recorded in detail on the
Since the opening of the Luxor main entrance pylon and on the
Bridge in 1998, 7 km (4 miles) walls inside. In the second court,
south of town, all coaches, cars colourful reliefs are well preserved
and taxis use this route to get thanks to early Christians, who
from Luxor to the West Bank. For converted a part of the temple
pedestrians and cyclists there’s a into a church and covered the
frequent local ferry (£E1), or you offending images with plaster
can hire a motorboat or felucca for
(see p38). d Map U4 • W of West Bank
around £E15–20 per person.
ticket office • Open 6am–5pm • Adm

100
( Colossi of Memnon
Standing in a field beside
A Stroll Along
the Corniche
the road that runs from the Nile
to the Theban Hills, these two Morning
lone colossi are the first things Start the day with breakfast

Around the Nile – Luxor


most visitors see on arriving at at the Metropolitan Café
the West Bank. They represent on the lower level of the
Corniche by Luxor Temple.
Amenhotep III and are all that is It has great views across
left of the pharaoh’s mortuary the Nile. The morning is
temple, thought to have been a good time to visit Luxor
the largest ever built in Egypt. Temple (see pp20–21),
The temple was gradually before the heat gets too
overwhelming. Afterwards,
destroyed by the annual floods continue north up the
of the Nile and plundered for Corniche, turning right
building material by later pharaohs. onto Sharia al-Montazah;
d Map V3 • 1 km (0.6 mile) E of West here you have a view of
Bank ticket office the Avenue of Sphinxes
(see p20) that once
connected Luxor Temple
) Tombs of the Nobles
These are the tombs of the
with Karnak, and can also
clearly see how the
administrators and high officials modern town has been
of the New Kingdom. In contrast built on top of them.
Continue north up the
to the royal tombs hidden in the Corniche, stopping for a
Valley of the Kings, the nobles’ visit to the Mummification
tombs were built close to the Museum (see p99), then
surface and were open to passing a couple of run-
descendents to visit and leave down colonial-era buildings
on your right, one of which
offerings. Vivid artworks cover their was one of the earliest
walls, providing an insight into hotels in town and now
daily life in ancient Egypt. The houses the city council.
tombs are divided into six groups, Stop for lunch at Kebabgy
each of which requires its own in the Nile Shopping
Centre on the Corniche
ticket. For information on specific (see p106).
tombs, see p103. d Map V3 • W of
West Bank ticket office, follow signposts Afternoon
from Old Gurna for Sheikh Abd al-Gurna Just a short walk further
Tombs • Open 6am–5pm • Adm north on the Corniche is
the Luxor Museum (see
p99) with its superb
collection of artefacts from
various tombs and temples.
Afterwards, instead of
walking all the way back,
take a calèche, one of the
horse-drawn carriages that
patrol the town. The
official rate is £E30 per
hour, but the drivers
usually charge more. Ask
the driver to take you back
to the Old Winter Palace
Hotel (see p129) for a late
afternoon drink on the
front terrace.
Tomb of Sennefer, Tombs of the Nobles

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 101


Around the Nile – Luxor

Left A relief on the Talatat Wall Right Detail of the statue of Sobek enthroned with Amenhotep III

Luxor Museum
! Head of Amenhotep III
Displayed near the museum ^ The Glory of Thebes Hall
This hall is devoted to the
entrance is this massive pharaoh’s military history of ancient Egypt.
head in granite, originally part of Exhibits include ancient weapons,
Amenhotep’s immense mortuary reliefs depicting battle scenes
temple, of which nothing and Tutankhamun’s hunting chariot.
survives except the Colossi of
Memnon (see p101).
& Royal Mummies
Also in the Glory of Thebes

@ Golden Cow Head


Also near the entrance is a
Hall are two royal mummies of
Ahmose, the pharaoh who drove
gilded head representing Mehit- the Hyksos out of Egypt and
Weret, an aspect of Hathor, cow- reunited the country, starting the
headed goddess of love. It is golden New Kingdom era. There
carved from wood, with copper is also a mummy of what might
horns and eyes of lapis lazuli, be Ramses I.
and was discovered in the tomb
of Tutankhamun.
* Tutankhamun Treasures
On the first floor, glass

£ Cachette Hall
This hall contains 16 of the
cabinets display items from
Tutankhamun’s tomb, including
statues found beneath Luxor sandals, arrow heads, two solar
Temple in 1989, including a barques and several gilded shabti
statue of Amenhotep III, who (small figures placed in the tomb
largely built the temple. The to help the pharaoh in the afterlife).
statue is one of the finest pieces
of ancient Egyptian art.
( Akhenaten
A couple of eerie heads

$ Horemheb and Atum


Also notable in the Cachette
from large Osiride statues of the
heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten
Hall is the unusual paired statue (Amenhotep IV) are also on the
depicting King Horemheb first floor. They are from the Aten
kneeling before Atum, who is Temple at Karnak.
sitting on his throne and measures
almost 2 m (6.5 ft) in height.
) Talatat Wall
This is a reassembled wall

% Statue of Sobek
This beautifully expressive
of 283 painted sandstone blocks
from the Aten Temple at Karnak.
statue depicts the crocodile- It has reliefs depicting scenes of
god Sobek with his arm daily life during the time of
draped paternally around Akhenaten, all executed in the
the shoulders of the young hyper-stylized fashion peculiar
Pharaoh Amenhotep III. to the king’s reign.

102 For more information on the Luxor Museum, including


opening times, see p99
Around the Nile – Luxor
Left Wall painting in the Tomb of Sennefer Right Wall painting in the Tomb of Nakht

Tombs of the Nobles


! Tomb of Sennefer
Sennefer was mayor of ^ Tomb of Ramose
Ramose was a governor of
Thebes and overseer of the Thebes around the time of
gardens at Amun under Akhenaten’s Amarna revolution,
Amenhotep III. His is one of the when the pharaoh overthrew
best preserved tombs, with a Egyptian polytheism in favour of
ceiling covered with brightly the worship of a single god, Aten.
coloured paintings of vines. This superb tomb is interesting
for featuring both Classical and

@ Tomb of Rekhmire
Rekhmire was a vizier under
Amarna-style reliefs.

Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep II


and his tomb depicts him & Tomb of Khonsu
Khonsu was an advisor to
collecting taxes and receiving Tuthmosis III. His tomb is
gifts from foreign lands. Among painted with colourful scenes
the tributes shown are vases depicting the Festival of Montu.
from Crete and a giraffe and
monkeys from Punt (present
day Somalia). * Tomb of Benia
Benia was a supervisor of
construction work. As with the

£ This tomb is decorated


Tomb of Nakht other two tombs in this group,
Benia’s tomb has paintings
with scenes of rural life, such as depicting vignettes of life, as
fishing, hunting and harvesting, well as statues of the deceased
as well as a banqueting scene and both his parents.
with dancers and a harpist. It
is one of the most fascinating
tombs with exceptionally vivid ( Khokha Tombs
This trio of tombs was built
and lively paintings. for New Kingdom officials.
Discovered in 1915, they were

$ Tomb of Menna
Menna was an inspector of
opened to the public only in
1995. Their decoration is similar
estates. Paintings in his tomb to the other tombs in this area.
depict him and his wife making
offerings to the gods. A scene in
the inner chamber also portrays ) Assasif Tombs
These are three more tombs
him hunting and fishing. that lie between the main Tombs
of the Nobles and the Temple of

% Tomb of Userhat
Userhat was one of
Hatshepsut. Some of the Assasif
tombs date from the Late Period,
Amenhotep II’s scribes. His tomb notably the Tomb of Pabasa,
has detailed scenes of everyday which has detailed bee-keeping
life, including a trip to the barbers. and fruit-picking scenes.

For general information about the Tombs of the Nobles and 103
details of opening times and admission prices see p101
Around the Nile – Luxor

Left The ruins of the village of Deir al-Medina Right Tomb wall painting, Valley of the Queens

Best of the Rest


• 1 km (0.6 mile) NE of West Bank ticket
! Deir al-Medina
The labourers who built the office • Open 6am–5pm • Adm
royal tombs lived here. Several of
their tombs and a small Ptolemaic
temple can be visited. d Map U3 & Tomb of Ay
Ay was Tutankhamun’s
• 1 km (0.6 mile) NW of West Bank ticket successor and his fine tomb has
office • Open 6am–5pm • Adm both royal and noble imagery.
d Map U2 • Western Valley • Open
6am–5pm • Adm
@ This holds the tombs of many
Valley of the Queens

royal wives and children. Although


there are nearly 80 tombs, only a * The Donkey Trail
Starting near the Tomb of
few are open to the public. Ramses I in the Valley of the Kings
d Map U3 • 1 km (0.6 mile) NW of West is a scenic trail that leads to the
Bank ticket office • Open 6am–5pm • Adm Temple of Hatshepsut. The hike
takes about 30 minutes, but beware
the heat in summer. d Map V2
£ Tomb of Nefertari
The tomb of the favourite • 2 km (1 mile) N of West Bank ticket office
wife of Ramses the Great has
the loveliest and most complete
paintings of all, but they are very ( West Bank Villages
Spend some time in these
fragile. d Map U3 • Valley of the Queens, sleepy, pretty villages. They may
1 km (0.6 mile) NW of West Bank ticket be demolished in the near future.
office • Closed to the public d Map X5

$ Temple of Seti I
This temple is ruinous, but it ) New Gurna
Completed in 1948, New
has some interesting reliefs. Gurna was built as an attempt to
d Map X3 • 3 km (2 miles) E of West rehouse the residents of Gurna
Bank ticket office • Adm away from the antiquities, but it
has never been occupied. d Map W4

% Howard Carter’s House


The home of the man who
discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb Dra’ Abul
has been restored and shows a 3D Naga Al-Jebanah

film on the excavation. d Map X2


• 3 km (2 miles) E of West Bank ticket office
Path

l
dy

ana
S an

• Open 6am–6pm (until 5pm in winter)


aC
diy
a
Al-F

Nag Lohlah

^ Temple of Merneptah
The reconstructed remains
Al-Tod
e
Nil

Al-Kom
er

of this mortuary temple are next Gezira


Riv

to the Ramesseum. d Map V3

104
Around the Nile – Luxor
Left Feluccas on the Nile Right Hot-air ballooning

Outdoor Activities
! Hot-Air Ballooning
Several companies offer hot- ^ Swimming
If your hotel does not have a
air balloon excursions over Luxor. swimming pool, then the El-Luxor
Weather permitting, they leave at hotel (see p129) allows non-
dawn from sites on the West residents to use its pools for a
Bank and flights last about day fee. It is not safe to swim in
30–40 minutes. They can be the Nile.
booked through your hotel.

@ An even higher view of Luxor


Seaplane Flights & Golf
Luxor has an 18-hole, par 72
course at the Royal Valley Golf Club.
can be enjoyed from the comfort Daily memberships are offered,
of a small seaplane that carries and the club has caddies, club
passengers each morning. rental and power carts. Many of
Departures are from a jetty near the big hotels provide special golf
Karnak and the flight lasts about packages. d Map Z6 • 13 km (9 miles)
30 minutes. You can book through from Luxor town, E Bank • 095 928 0098
your hotel.

£ Cycling is a great way to get


Cycling * Horse-Riding
Horses can be hired by the
hour from stables in Gezira, the
around the West Bank. You can small village next to the ferry
hire bikes by the day at several landing on the West Bank. Ask
places on Sharia al-Mahatta and for the Pharaoh’s Stables or
Sharia Televizyun in Luxor town, Arabian Horse Stables, or book
and then take them across the in advance through your hotel.
river on the ferry. d Map V2 d Map W6 • Arabian Horse Stables: 095
231 0024 • Pharaoh’s Stables: 095 231 2263

$ Felucca Trips
A popular felucca trip is to
( Caleche Rides
sail to Banana Island (Geziret al- A horse-drawn carriage ride
Moz), where you can stroll through around town is pleasant at any
the banana groves. A round trip time of day. Haggle hard, and
takes two to three hours. d Map W6 agree in advance a price for the
ride, not per person.

% Bird-Watching
Crocodile Island is excellent
) Sunbathing
for bird-watching. There are at Egypt is a traditional Muslim
least 50 species of bird here. You country, where displays of flesh
can get a bus to the island from will offend locals (and, in the case
the Old Winter Palace hotel (see of improperly dressed women,
p129). d Map W6 • Crocodile Island, invite sexual harassment). Confine
4 km (2.5 miles S of Luxor town) sunbathing to your hotel pool.

105
Price Categories
For a two-course meal £ under £E30
for one with a soft ££ £E30–£60
drink and including £££ £E60–£120
service ££££ £E120–£250
£££££ over £E250
Around the Nile – Luxor

Above Kebabgy

Restaurants and Cafés


! 1886 Restaurant,
Old Winter Palace
restaurant is popular with local
expats. d Map X6 • Sharia al-Roda al-
This upmarket French restaurant Sharifa, off Khaled Ibn al-Walid, East Bank
requires reservations and formal • 095 236 1451 • £££
dress (jacket and tie for men)
(see p61). d Map Y2–3 • Old Winter
Palace, Corniche al-Nil, East Bank & Tutankhamun
This small local restaurant
• 095 2380 422 • Closed lunch • ££££ near the ferry landing beside the
river has a great view across to
the Luxor Temple. d Map X5 • Al-
@ Kebabgy
Popular for snacks (including Gezira, West Bank • 010 566 8614 • £££
pizza and pasta), this waterside
restaurant also serves grilled
meats. d Map Y2 • Nile Shopping * King’s Head Pub
A favourite with the town’s
Centre, Corniche al-Nil, East Bank • ££ UK visitors, this is a restaurant-
pub. d Map X6 • Sharia Khalid Ibn
al-Walid, East Bank • 095 228 0489 • £££
£ LaTheMamma, Sheraton
best Italian food in town
is served here on a terrace (see
p129). d Map X6 • Sheraton Luxor ( El-Gezira
This rooftop restaurant with
Resort, Sharia Khaled Ibn al-Walid, great Nile views serves Egyptian
Awamiya, East Bank • 095 227 4544 • £££ specialities (see p130). d Map X5
• El-Gezira, West Bank • 095 231 0034 • ££

$ This simple but charming


Sofra

) Al-Moudira
restaurant serves Mediterranean- This hotel serves lunch in its
influenced Egyptian dishes. Swimming Pool Pavilion and dinner
d Map Z3 • 90 Sharia Mohammed Farid, in the Great Room, which has a
East Bank • 095 235 9752 • £££ Mediterranean-inspired menu
(see p129). d Map X2 • Haggar
Daba’iyya, West Bank • 012 325 1307 • ££££
% LaOldCorniche,
Winter Palace
New
The larger of this hotel’s eateries Gurna
RN K

has a broader, more international


A
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-
menu than the 1886. d Map Y2–3 RIA
AL
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HA
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Gezira
• Old Winter Palace, Corniche al-Nil, East
l
ana

S
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AH
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Bank • 095 2380 422 • Closed lunch • ££££


adiy

Ramleh
IA
AR
Al-F

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LUXOR
Ezba

^ Owned by an Anglo-Egyptian
The Lantern
IL
AL-N
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couple (as reflected in the menu,


CO

which includes both shish 4 km


(2.5 miles)
tawouk and chicken curry), this

106 Recommend your favourite restaurant or café on traveldk.com


Around the Nile – Luxor
Left Granite falcon (Horus), Temple of Horus, Edfu Right Carved wall, Temple of Hathor, Dendara

Around Luxor
! Tell al-Amarna
The remains of the city built ^ Edfu
Halfway between Luxor
by pharaoh Akhenaten and his and Aswan, Edfu is the first stop
wife Nefertiti consists of widely on most Nile cruises for the
dispersed ruins. Few independ- Temple of Horus, the largest and
ent tourists get to this remote best preserved Graeco-Roman
site. d Map B3 • Al-Minya Governorate, temple in Egypt (see p38).
12 km (7 miles) SW of Mallawi • Adm d Map C5 • 115 km (71 miles) S of
Luxor • Open 6am–5pm in summer,
7am–4pm in winter • Adm
@ Abydos
The cult centre of Osiris,
Abydos was the holiest of places
in Pharaonic times. The remains & Al-Kab
This was once the ancient
include the Temple of Seti I (see city of Nekheb, dedicated to the
p38). d Map B4 • 150 km (90 miles) NW vulture goddess, Nekhbet. Little
of Luxor • Open 8am–5pm • Adm remains today except for four
tombs of ancient nobles.
d Map C5 • 15 km (9 miles) S of Edfu
£ Dendara
Just outside Qena is a well- • Open 7am–5pm • Adm
preserved, large Graeco-Roman
temple dedicated to Hathor. It is
one of the most intact temples in * Silsilah
On the banks of the Nile
Egypt (see p39). d Map B4 • 60 km between Edfu and Kom Ombo
(37 miles) N of Luxor • Open 7am–6pm in are ancient quarries cut into rocky
summer, 7am–5pm in winter • Adm cliff faces. Feluccas sailing from
Aswan often stop here to let

$ Western Desert
This lies between the Nile
passengers view ancient graffiti.
d Map C5 • 35 km (22 miles) S of Edfu
Valley and the border with Libya.
Tourist agencies run day trips to
the sands of the White Desert – ( Kom Ombo
Overlooking the Nile, this is
make enquiries at your hotel. a dual temple on a symmetrical
plan, jointly dedicated to the

% Esna
This small market town is
falcon god Horus and crocodile
god Sobek. d Map C5 • 40 km
best known for the remains of (25 miles) N of Aswan • Open 6am–5pm
the Temple of Khnum, of which in summer, 7am–4pm in winter • Adm
only the hypostyle hall has been
excavated. The site is visited on
the return leg (Aswan–Luxor) of ) Daraw
This small town hosts a
most Nile cruises. d Map B5 • 54 km famous Tuesday camel market,
(33 miles) S of Luxor • Open 7am–5pm in with animals from Sudan. d Map
summer, 7am–4pm in winter • Adm C5 • 32 km (20 miles) N of Aswan

107
Around the Nile – Aswan & Lake Nasser

Left Nubia Museum Right Tombs of the Nobles

Aswan and Lake Nasser

E GYPT’S SOUTHERNMOST CITY WAS AN IMPORTANT garrison town guarding


the frontier in ancient times. It has also always been a major trading post
for goods arriving from Africa. Even today the town feels more “African” than
Middle Eastern, in part due to the darker skin of many of its inhabitants, who
are Nubians rather than Arabs. Life here moves at a languid pace and the
sightseeing is less frenetic than in Luxor. The Nile is also particularly beautiful
here, dotted with islands and with a west bank of sandy, desert slopes that
come right down to the water’s edge. Aswan is gateway to Lake Nasser (see
p113), the vast reservoir that stretches about 500 km (300 miles) behind the
High Dam, south into neighbouring Sudan.

Sights
1 Souq 6 Tombs of the Nobles
2 Nubia Museum 7 Unfinished Obelisk
3 Elephantine Island 8 Temple of Philae
4 Kitchener’s Island 9 High Dam
5 Felucca Rides 0 Abu Simbel
Elephantine Island

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108
It also has a garden with a typical
distinctive Nubian house, and a
water feature showing the Nile’s
course and cataracts (see p47).
d Map S6 • Sharia al-Fanadek • 097 231

Around the Nile – Aswan & Lake Nasser


9222 • Open 9am–9pm • www.numibia.
net/nubia • Adm

£ Elephantine Island
The largest of the islands at
Aswan, Elephantine Island is also
the site of the town’s oldest
settlement. In ancient times it
was the cult centre of the ram-
Aswan souq headed god of the Nile flood,
Khnum. Among the ruins at the

! Souq
Filling one long street (Sharia
southern end are those of the
Temple of Khnum, built by
al-Souq) that runs parallel to the Nectanebo in the 4th century BC.
riverside Corniche, Aswan’s Regular ferries connect the island
colourful souq is the best in Egypt with the Corniche. d Map S5–6
outside of Cairo. It is especially
good for spices and dyes. Look
out for dried hibiscus, boiled to $ Kitchener’s Island
Behind Elephantine Island is
make the drink karkade. You can the much smaller Kitchener’s
also buy Nubian jewellery, Island, named for the British
scarves, skullcaps, embroidered general Horatio Kitchener, who
galabiyyas and locally-made was presented with the island in
baskets. As in Cairo, it’s important the 1890s as a reward for leading
that you haggle, or face paying the Egyptian army’s successful
way over the odds. d Map T4–5 campaigns in Sudan. Kitchener, a
keen botanist, planted the island

@ Nubia Museum
Nubia is the area between
with exotic plants and flowers
from all over the world. To get to
Aswan in Egypt and Khartoum in it you need to hire a felucca and
Sudan. This museum has displays ask the captain either to wait or to
on Nubian life from the earliest return for you at an agreed time.
settlements to the modern day. d Map S5 • Open 7am–sunset • Adm

Kitchener’s Island

109
& Unfinished Obelisk
One of the strangest sites
in Egypt is a huge obelisk still
attached to the bedrock in an
ancient quarry in the hills south
Around the Nile – Aswan & Lake Nasser

of Aswan that supplied the


ancient Egyptians with red
granite for their temples and
statues. Three sides of the shaft
were completed before a flaw
was discovered in the stone and
the obelisk was abandoned. Had
it been completed, it would
have weighed an astonishing
1.8 million kg (1,197 tons) and
stood 41 m (134 ft) high. d Map
T6 • 1.5 km (1 mile) S of Aswan • Open
A felucca sailing past the Tombs of the Nobles 7am–5pm • Adm

% Felucca Rides
Aswan is the finest place to * Temple of Philae
A highlight of Aswan, and
go sailing in a felucca. You can reason alone to pay a visit to
hire one by the hour or for the the town, is this Graeco-Roman
day and use it as your personal temple dedicated to the cult of
transport to visit Elephantine and Isis. It is situated on its own
Kitchener’s islands and the picturesque island in the middle
tombs on the west bank. The of the Nile and the only way to
more adventurous might consider visit it is by motor launch, which
a two-night, three-day cruise to makes for a supremely dramatic
Edfu. The boats take up to six approach. It lies between the
people and conditions are basic. Aswan and High Dams, a
The felucca captains congregate 15-minute drive south of town,
on the Corniche. Alternatively, and is usually visited as part of
you can have your hotel make an organized tour, although it is
the arrangements. possible to get a taxi – just ask
for Shallal, which is where the
motorboats dock (see pp28–9).
^ Tombs of the Nobles
The hills on the west bank of
the Nile at Aswan have tombs Dam
hewn out of the rock dating from Egypt’s fortunes have historically
the Old and Middle Kingdoms, always been linked to the annual
many of which are decorated. flooding of the Nile. In order to
The best (No.31) is that of Prince regulate this the British built the
Sarenput II, governor of southern Aswan Dam between 1898 and
Egypt during the 12th Dynasty. It 1902. This soon proved too small
is decorated with statues of the to control the river’s unpredictable
floods and in the 1960s President
prince and painted scenes of
Nasser began construction of the
hunting and fishing. To get to the High Dam. The resultant
tombs take a local ferry from the increases in agricultural
Corniche near the railway station. production and hydroelectricity
d Map S4 • Qubbet al-Hawa, West Bank have saved Egypt from famine.
• Open 7am–5pm • Adm

110
( High Dam
Built between 1960 and
A Day in Aswan
1971, the enormous High Dam is Morning
3,830 m (12,562 ft) across, 111 m Aswan is not a great
(364 ft) high and 980 m (3,214 ft) sightseeing city like Cairo

Around the Nile – Aswan & Lake Nasser


wide at its base. At the eastern or Luxor. It is a mellow
town, partly because the
end of the dam there is a visitors’
heat slows down the
pavilion detailing the construction tempo. Start the day with
of the dam and at the western breakfast on your boat
end there is a lotus-shaped before going ashore. Then
tower, built to commemorate the head inland until you come
to Sharia al-Souk, and walk
Soviet Union’s assistance in the
south. In recent years the
project, that also has an souq has been smartened
observation deck. The dam is up and part of it has been
usually visited as part of tours to converted into a pedestrian-
Abu Simbel. d Map C5 • 17 km only promenade, but it
remains authentic and is
(11 miles) S of Aswan • Open 7am–5pm
the most charming bazaar
in Egypt. For a unique
souvenir look out for local
Nubian handicrafts and
cassettes of Nubian music.
Eventually the souq peters
out and Sharia al-Souq
swings right to connect
with the Corniche. Just
north of here are a string
of moored boats that
double as restaurants,
with the Aswan Moon
(Corniche al-Nil • 097 231
61 08) being a great spot
to stop off for lunch.
Afternoon
The Sun Temple at Abu Simbel
The best way to combat
the afternoon heat is to

) Abu Simbel
Hewn out of a solid cliff in
take to the water in a
felucca. Boat captains
tout for business on the
the 13th century BC, the great
Corniche and charge by
Sun Temple and the smaller
the hour. You can choose
Temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel to drift languidly or be
are a breathtaking sight. dropped off on Kitchener’s
Although dedicated to the gods, Island or on Elephantine
the Sun Temple is really a Island for further exploring.
Later on, hire a felucca or
monument to the pharaoh
catch the local ferry from
Ramses II, as a statement of near the Aswan Museum
his power. His image dominates (see p112) on Elephantine
the façade in the form of four Island back to the
seated colossi. The temple is mainland and head to
the nearby Old Cataract
usually visited as a day trip from
Hotel (see p131) for
Aswan, a convoy of coaches sundowners on the
departing early in the morning terrace. At dusk the river
and returning late in the takes on a pink hue, which
afternoon. Abu Simbel also has is beautiful and calming.
its own airport (see pp30–31).

Share your travel recommendations on traveldk.com 111


Around the Nile – Aswan & Lake Nasser

Left Aswan Dam Centre Aga Khan Mausoleum Right A Nubian village, Elephantine Island

Best of the Rest


! Aga Khan Mausoleum
The Aga Khan III (1877–1957), ^ Issa Island
Issa Island is home to the
leader of the Ismaili sect of Shiia Nubian Restaurant, which has a
Muslims, is buried in this private, lovely garden. It is reached by free
Fatimid-style tomb atop a ferry from near the Egypt Air office.
hillside. d Map R5 • West Bank d Map S6 • Issa Island • 097 910 8000

@ Monastery of St Simeon
This 7th-century monastery & Nubian House
This café/restaurant high on
was abandoned after an attack in a hilltop overlooking the Nile
the 12th century. Its ruins are a serves Nubian food and sometimes
30-minute desert hike from the has live music, but most people
river’s edge. d Map R5 • West Bank come for the magnificent views.
• Open 8am–4pm • Adm d Map S6 • On the hill behind the Basma
Hotel • 097 232 6226

£ Aswan Museum
This small museum is home
* Fatimid Cemetery
to artefacts found in and around This large dusty expanse is
Aswan and Elephantine Island, dotted with hundreds of mud-
ranging from primitive prehistoric brick tombs, many of which date
weapons to Graeco-Roman back to the 9th and 10th centuries.
mummies. d Map S6 • Elephantine d Map S6 • Between the Nubian
Island • Open 8am–4pm • Adm Museum and the Unfinished Obelisk

$ Nilometer
The walls of the square shaft ( Sehel Island
A felucca trip to this island,
of 90 rock-cut steps descending 4 km (2.5 miles) from Aswan, is
to the river are marked to record a popular half-day excursion, not
the height of the annual flood. so much for anything that’s there,
This helps predict the likely crop but more for the pleasure of
yield for the coming year. sailing the Nile. d Map R6 • Adm
d Map S6 • Elephantine
Island • Adm included in
) Aswan Dam
ile
er N

ticket for Aswan Museum At the time of


Riv

its construction (1898–


IL
AL-N

Kitchener’s

% Old Cataract Island 1902), this British-


HE
NIC

Hotel built dam was the


COR

This Moorish-styled Elephantine


Island Aswan
largest in the world.
hotel, with a lovely It was superseded
L-BANDAR

verandah overlooking in the 1970s by the


ARQ A

the Nile, has been Isis


Island High Dam. d Map B6
DAT

SH

• 11 km (7 miles) S of
Q SA

extensively renovated
IA
AR

4 km SH
TARI

(see pp53 & 131). (2.5 miles) Aswan • Adm

112
Around the Nile – Aswan & Lake Nasser
Left Temple of Kalabsha Right Pharaonic relief inside the Temple of Kalabsha

Lake Nasser
! Temple of Kalabsha
This striking temple was built ^ Abu Simbel
The imposing Sun Temple
by Emperor Augustus in the 1st was built by Ramses II at the
century AD on the site of earlier height of the New Kingdom
buildings. It was moved north of its era and is one of the most
original location when Lake Nasser impressive ancient sites in
was created. d Map B5 • Just W of Egypt (see pp30–31).
the High Dam • Open 7am–5pm in
summer, 7am–4pm in winter • Adm
& Lake Nasser Cruises
Cruises on Lake Nasser take

@ Kiosk of Qertassi
The remains of this Roman-
three days to sail from near the
High Dam to Abu Simbel, calling
era pavillion beside Kalabsha at Wadi al-Sebua, Amada Temple
Temple have two fine Hathor- and Qasr Ibrim (see p133).
headed columns at the entrance.
d Map B5 • W of High Dam • Adm
included in the ticket for Kalabsha Temple * Crocodiles
Once common in Egypt,
and worshipped in ancient

£ This small temple was built


Wadi al-Sebua times, crocodiles were hunted to
extinction by the 1950s. However,
by Ramses II. Approached by a in recent years they have returned
half-buried avenue of sphinxes, it in large numbers to Lake Nasser
has colossi of the pharaoh. d Map where they now thrive.
B6 • 140 km (87 miles) S of High Dam

$ Dedicated to Amun-Ra and


Temple of Amada ( Angling
Lake Nasser is renowned for
its fish stocks, particularly Nile
Ra-Harakhty, Amada was built perch, which grow here to monster
during the reigns of Tuthmosis III dimensions. Several companies
and Amenhotep II. It has some organize big game freshwater
well-preserved reliefs. angling expeditions, notably
d Map B6 • 185 km African Angler.
Aswan
(115 miles) S of High Dam d www.african-angler.net
EGYP T

% Qasr Ibrim
Although dating
Kalābsha
Lake
) Wadi Halfa
There is a weekly
back to 1000 BC, Nasser ferry from the High
the main surviving Dam that takes 24
structure in this fort Toshka hours to cruise the
are the ruins of an Abu
whole length of Lake
8th-century cathedral. Simbel Nasser to Wadi Halfa
d Map B6 • 60 km in Sudan. You will
S U DA N
(37 miles) N of Abu Simbel need a Sudanese visa.

113
STREETSMART
Planning Your Trip
116
Getting There

CAIRO & THE NILE’S TOP 10


and Around
117
Practical Information
118
Etiquette
119
Things to Avoid
120
Security and Health
121
Shopping and
Eating Tips
122
Cruise Tips
123
Places to Stay
124
Cruise Ships
133
Streetsmart

Left Tourist office Centre Internet café Right Covering up in the sun

Planning Your Trip


! Internet
Information
be secured in advance
from Egyptian consulates
but the best advice is to
get hold of all the maps
The following websites in your own country but and guides you think you’ll
can help you research it is much easier and need before leaving home.
which parts of this cheaper to obtain them
fascinating country you
want to cover during your
on arrival at Cairo or
Luxor airport; this takes * Time and
Electricity
visit. They also provide just a few minutes and Egypt is two hours ahead
background information costs the equivalent of of Greenwich Mean Time
on ancient Egyptian US $15 irrespective of in winter, which means it
history and Egyptology. your nationality. is two hours ahead of the
d www.touregypt.net UK and seven hours ahead
• www.sis.gov.eg/En
• www.egyptology.blog % Egyptian
Consulates
of the US East Coast.
Egypt’s clocks move
spot.com • www.egypt. If you wish to organize forward for Daylight
travel your Egyptian visa in Savings Time, usually on
advance or have any the last Friday in April
@ Climate
Avoid July and August,
queries, a complete list
of Egyptian embassies
and back again on the
last Thursday in Sep-
which are unbearably and consulates can be tember. Electricity is 220V
hot, with temperatures found on the following and sockets are for round-
at a constant of around website: www. pronged, twin-pin plugs.
30–40˚C (85–105˚F). The embassyworld.com
best weather is December
( Insurance
to February, when the
temperatures in Upper ^ Egyptian National
Tourist Offices
Travellers should take
out both health and
Egypt are much less For brochures, maps and personal belongings
uncomfortable, and, in upcoming events, contact insurance. Although it is
Cairo, it can even get the Egyptian Tourist Office possible to get good
chilly in the evenings, in your own country. medical assistance in
making a jacket necessary. d UK: 170 Piccadilly, Egypt, it has to be paid
London. 020 7493 5283 for (state facilities should
• USA: 630 Fifth Avenue,
£ When to Go
As far as temperature Suite 2305, New York.
definitely be avoided) and
the best hospitals and
goes, winter is the best 212 332 2570 • Canada: doctors are expensive. If
time of year, although 2020 University Avenue, you have anything stolen
hotels and cruises get Suite 2260, Montreal, you need to obtain an
booked up over Christmas Quebec. 514 861 4420. official theft report, called
and New Year. November a mahdar, from the police.
and late January/February
& Tourist
in Egypt
Offices
are good for avoiding the
worst of the crowds. You There are tourist offices ) What to Take
You can buy most
may also want to steer in all of the large towns things in Egypt but you
clear of the holy month of and cities in Egypt, but should bring your own
Ramadan (see p62), when they tend to be of little sunscreen. You should
opening hours are erratic. use with uninformed also bring any prescription
staff and little in the way or non-prescription
$ Visas
Most nationalities
of maps or other printed
material. Hotel desks are
medicines. Egyptian
pharmacies are very good,
require a tourist visa to usually a better source of but drugs may go under
enter Egypt. These can up-to-date information, unrecognizable names.

116 Preceding pages Interior view of a coffee house


Streetsmart
Left Overnight sleeper train Centre Cairo taxi Right Superjet long-distance bus logo

Getting There and Around


! By Air From
Europe
Aswan with Cairo. Flying
time in both cases is * Taxis
Within Egypt’s towns,
Flying to Egypt from the around one hour and by far the most convenient
UK takes five to six hours. flying Cairo–Luxor costs way to get around is by
There are international around £E600 one way. taxi. Taxis are plentiful
airports at Alexandria, and, by Western standards,
Cairo and Luxor, although
most major carriers fly % Egypt’s Airports
Cairo airport is around
cheap. Avoid black-and-
white unmetered taxis.
into Cairo only. Major 20 km (12 miles) north- White cabs have working
airlines flying direct from east of the city centre. meters and can be hailed
the UK to Egypt include There is no adequate on the street. Yellow cabs
British Airways, BMI and public transport and the also have a meter but
EgyptAir, although you only realistic option is to must be booked by
may get cheaper fares take a taxi, which costs phone. Blue cabs can
with other carriers that around £E80 to central be more expensive as
involve a change of Cairo. Luxor and Aswan they charge a flat fee
flights, such as Air France airports are much easier according to distance.
via Paris, for example. to negotiate and are far d Yellow cabs 16516
closer to their respective • Blue cabs 02 3760 9616
@ By
Air
Intercontinental city centres.
( Car Hire
From the USA, EgyptAir
flies direct to Cairo daily. ^ Train
The only real alter-
Driving in Egypt can
be terrifying. Egyptians
Delta Air Lines operates native to flying between do not seem to obey any
five flights a week from Cairo and Luxor and road rules, communicate
New York. A number Aswan is to take the train. by means of the horn
of European and Gulf There are three tourist and are adverse to using
airlines serve Cairo trains, all of which travel headlights at night. If you
from a wider range of overnight and have feel you need the freedom
departure points, but New sleeper carriages. They of a car to get around, it
York still offers by far the depart Cairo around 9pm isn’t any more expensive
biggest choice of airlines. and arrive in Luxor about to hire a car and driver or
6am the next day. For just negotiate a day rate
£ Packages and
Charter Flights
current schedules, prices
and reservations visit
with a local taxi.

The best-value flights are


with the growing number
www.egyptrail.gov.eg or
www.sleepingtrains.com ) Boat
The Nile runs from the
of charter packages and very south of Egypt all the
low-cost carriers, most of
which fly directly to Luxor, & Long-Distance
Buses
way up the middle, exiting
into the Mediterranean in
rather than Cairo. Just type Buses are the best way the north. But the central
“Luxor cheap flights” into to travel between Cairo stretch of the river,
an Internet search engine and destinations such as through what is known
to be presented with all- Alexandria, Port Said and as Middle Egypt, is
inclusive flight and hotel Ismailia. Services are closed to passenger
deals at very low prices. more frequent and faster traffic because of ongoing
than trains. Various and long-standing security
$ Domestic Flights
Internal flights are
companies compete on
the routes, with Superjet,
concerns. Boat travel
(other than by small boat
operated by EgyptAir. It where available, being such as felucca) is only
connects both Luxor and the most reputable. possible south of Luxor.

117
Streetsmart

Left Postbox Centre National Bank of Egypt Right Banknote

Practical Information
! Business &
Shopping Hours $ Credit Cards
Credit cards are * Mail
The best place to
Banks and offices tend to accepted in large buy stamps and post
open Sunday to Thursday restaurants and shops letters is at your hotel.
from 8am or 9am until and at most hotels, but Airmail letters take
5pm. Shops open from that’s about it. They will between around a week
around 10am until 9pm or not be accepted in smaller to 10 days to the UK and
later, but may close for shops and in souqs, and Europe and a couple of
midday prayers on Friday. you can’t buy tickets for weeks to the USA and
In Alexandria many shops sites with them. American Australia. If you need to
close from 2pm until Express, MasterCard and send something quickly,
5pm. During Ramadan Visa are the most likely use EMS (Express Mail
opening hours become to be accepted. Service), which is
totally unpredictable. offered by most major
% International post offices. Parcels
@ Currency
Egypt’s basic unit
Phone Calls
The cheapest way of
must be sent via main
post offices. In Cairo the
of currency is the phoning overseas is to main post office is on
Egyptian pound (£E). use a telephone office Midan Ramses.
One pound is divided into (known as a centraal),
100 piastres (pt). Egyptian
banknotes have Arabic
where you pay at the end
of the call. You can also ( Shipping
Couriers
&

numerals on one side, buy a phonecard (ask at If you are buying


Western numerals on the kiosks for a Menatel anything sizable, such as
other and come in card) to use in street an item of furniture or a
denominations from 5pt phone booths. Rates are carpet, then the seller
to £E200. Always carry cheaper 8pm–8am. should be able to
some smaller notes as organize the shipping for
the higher value notes
can sometimes be ^ Mobile Phones
Not all networks
you. Private courier firms
such as DHL (www.dhl.
difficult to change. provide roaming services com) and FedEx (www.
in Egypt. If you are fedex.com/eg) do exist in
Banks & ATMs planning to use your Egypt, with offices in
£ Money can be mobile a lot you can buy Cairo and Luxor, but they
changed at banks and a SIM card from a local are expensive.
Forex bureaus, which are provider such as Mobinil
private moneychangers
found in larger towns.
or Vodafone, both of which
have shops throughout ) Public
Conveniences
Forex bureaus tend to Egypt. You can then buy Public toilets in Egypt are
offer better rates than top-up cards from kiosks often unsanitary. Take the
banks but they don’t and grocery stores. opportunity to make use
always take traveller’s of the facilities in hotels,
cheques. Automatic Cash
Dispensers (ATMs) have & Internet Access
There are Internet
upmarket restaurants and
Western-style fast-food
proliferated rapidly in cafés all over Egypt, franchises and cafés,
recent years, although while many hotels offer an which tend to be better
not all are compatible online terminal for guests’ maintained. Even then
with international banking use. Charges are usually there’s often no toilet
cards. The best place to £E5–10 per hour, paper so get into the
look for ATMs is in the although five-star hotels habit of carrying a packet
lobby of larger hotels. charge considerably more. of tissues in your bag.

118
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Left Sign prohibiting photography Centre Typical café Right Shoes left outside a mosque

Etiquette
! Islam
While nowhere near
have a problem with
persistent sexual
can do so. Expect indoor
restaurants and cafés to
as conservative as Iran or harassment, from wolf be very smoky.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt is an whistles and lewd
Islamic country. Intimate
behaviour in public (such
comments to furtive
gropes or bottom- * Tipping
A tip is called
as kissing or even pinching. Having a male baksheesh and it is
holding hands) will be friend along greatly expected by everybody.
seen as offensive, and reduces, but unfortun- Anybody that does you
there are considerations ately does not eliminate, any kind of service from
of dress to be observed the hassle. carrying bags to looking
(see below). For more after your shoes when
dos and don’ts see p120.
% Photographing
People
you visit a mosque will
expect a small gratuity.
@ Hospitality
Egyptians are
If you are taking a
photograph of somebody,
Usually £E1 is sufficient.
A temple attendant who
genuinely hospitable be sure to ask their opens up a “restricted
people, although it’s permission. In rural area” for you will expect
often hard to know when areas, in particular, something more like £E5.
this is the case or the Egyptians can be
friendly welcome is just
an overture that leads
sensitive about having
their picture taken and ( Begging
Egyptians give freely
to a perfume or papyrus it can sometimes lead to to beggars – it is a
shop. Don’t be naïve, but uncomfortable situations requirement of Islam.
at the same time avoid if you aren’t careful. Children sometimes stand
rudeness or aggressive outside supermarkets and
behaviour in response
to insistent offers and ^ Other
Photographic
ask for food rather than
money. What you will
demands from would-be Considerations encounter as a visitor is
guides or salesmen. Often Egyptians may lots of children asking
stop you taking for money, which is
£ Dress
Avoid too much
photographs of things
they feel show the
something quite different,
as they prey on tourists.
exposed skin. Shorts, for country in a “backward” Most Egyptians find
both men and women, light. Also, photographing them a nuisance too and
are not acceptable when bridges, train stations, will shoo them away.
walking around town (but policemen or police
are fine on the boat or
beach). Women should
stations – anything that
might be considered ) Visiting Mosques
Shoes must be
also avoid skimpy tops “strategic” – is removed before entering
that leave shoulders or absolutely forbidden and a mosque and there are
midriffs bare, and short may result in your often a shoe rack and
skirts. However, it is not camera being confiscated shoe guardian at the door
necessary for women to until you can prove you for this purpose. It is also
cover their hair. have deleted the images. essential that proper
clothing is worn – people
$ Female Travellers
Egypt can be a & Smoking
A large percentage of
wearing shorts or
sleeveless T-shirts may
stressful place for solo men in Egypt still smoke be refused admission
female travellers to visit. and as yet there are few or offered a shawl to
Many women visitors bans on where people cover up with.

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Left Some places have very little shade Centre Holding hands is to be avoided Right Mineral water

Things to Avoid
! Dehydration
It is terrifically hot in
but most Egyptians
do not drink as they * Trying to Do
Too Much
Egypt and there is little consider it contrary to There is an immense
shade at most tourist Islam. Getting drunk is a amount to see and do in
sites. Dehydration is a sure way of demeaning Egypt, particularly in Cairo
very real threat so drink yourself in the eyes of and Luxor. Be realistic
plenty of fluids (not the locals. in your goals. It takes
alcohol or coffee, both months to see everything,
of which exacerbate the
problem) and put a little % Drugs
There are drugs
not days. A good plan in
Luxor is to sightsee in
extra salt on your food. around in Egypt. the mornings, give
Bottled water is sold Marijuana is not yourself the afternoon off,
everywhere but it is uncommon in Sinai but and then possibly visit a
always wise to carry there’s also a harder drug temple in the evening for
a bottle with you. scene in the cities that the Sound and Light show.
is a current cause of
@ Tap Water
Tap water in Egypt is
consternation. It is all
illegal and penalties for ( Losing
Temper
Your

heavily chlorinated and anyone found using “Just for looking, just for
relatively safe to drink drugs are harsh. At the looking!”– vendors’ cries
but if you are not used to very least you will be are incessant (“Cheaper
it, it could still upset your deported and not allowed than Asda price!”). Every
stomach. For this reason to return to the country. Egyptian you meet seems
it is best to stick to to want to sell you
sealed bottles of mineral
water, which are cheap ^ Overstretching
the Plumbing
something (“My brother
has very nice perfume
and readily available Egyptian plumbing is not shop!”). They are just
throughout the country. very robust. Toilets get trying to make a living
blocked very easily. For and it’s not easy. So even
£ Fake Guides
At many historic sites,
this reason there will
often be a wastebasket
at the umpteenth tug of
your sleeve, keep your
especially the Pyramids in the toilet cubicle, cool and just say a polite
and Karnak, you may be which is for used toilet “No thanks”.
approached by locals paper. It may not seem
offering their services as
guides: be wary. Many of
particularly hygienic but
is preferable to the ) Believing
Are Told
All You

these men have next to flooding that will General Montgomery


no knowledge whatsoever otherwise be the result. did not ride your camel
and the extent of their at the Pyramids. Your
commentary runs little
further than: “Very big, & Public Displays
of Affection
felucca captain is not
called Michael/Chris/
very old”. If you feel you No kissing in public, Bruce, just the same as
need a guide, consider no holding hands, no you. That yellow powder
hiring one in advance walking with arms you are snapping up as
through your hotel. around each others’ a bargain is not saffron.
waists. Egypt is very That papyrus is not “very
$ Getting Drunk
Alcohol is served in
conservative and if you
want to avoid giving
old” but was probably
plucked from a banana
some restaurants, and offence this is something plant last week… Enjoy
bars do exist in Egypt, couples need to be Egypt but beware of
particularly in hotels, aware of. being too gullible.

120
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Left Mind pickpockets in crowded streets Centre Tourist police Right Detail of pharmacy sign

Security and Health


! Vaccinations &
Other Precautions
safe, but in cheaper
hotels the pests often * Crime
Crime is minimal in
There are no compulsory come as standard. You Egypt. However, pick-
inoculations for Egypt, can employ mosquito pockets work in Cairo,
although you should coils, rub-on repellent particularly around Midan
always be up to date or a plug-in vaporizer, Tahrir and on the buses
with polio and tetanus all of which are sold to the Pyramids. Casual
vaccinations. It’s also at pharmacies. theft is no more or less
worth being vaccinated prevalent than in any
against typhoid. Egypt is
not in a malarial zone. % Animal Dangers
There are snakes
other country. Take the
same precautions you
and scorpions in Egypt, would anywhere – don’t
@ Food Safety
Just as it is unwise to
particularly in the south
of the country, but the
leave valuables lying
around in plain sight.
drink the local tap water danger is minimal as they
(see p120), it is also not
recommended to eat
are mostly nocturnal and
avoid people. A greater ( Tourist Police
If you have a problem
salads as the vegetables threat comes from the or need to report a
will have been rinsed wild dogs that are crime, go to the Tourist
under the tap. Avoid raw occasionally encountered Police, who can be found
meats and anything that roaming city streets in at tourist sites, airports
looks undercooked, and packs. Do not approach and stations. They are
always thoroughly wash them as they are feral supposed to be trained
(in purified water) any and a bite will neces- to assist foreign visitors
fruits that are eaten sitate precautionary and should speak a
unpeeled, such as grapes. rabies shots. second language, usually
English. They dress like
£ Stomach Upsets
No matter what ^ Pharmacies
Egypt’s pharmacies
normal police but wear
an armband reading
precautions are taken, are excellent and are “Tourist Police”.
many visitors to Egypt usually staffed with well-
will come down with
diarrhoea. If and when
trained individuals who
mostly speak English and ) Terrorism
Security
and

you do, keep your bodily who can dispense a wide The Egyptian economy is
fluids topped up with range of medicines. If extremely dependent on
plenty of bottled water you have any health tourism and the
and eat only the blandest problems in Egypt the government has invested
of foods such as plain pharmacy should be your heavily in making sure
boiled rice and vegetables. first port of call. If the nothing happens to its
You may also want to pharmacist doesn’t know foreign visitors. Since the
take rehydration salts. what’s wrong they will terror attacks of the late
Medicines like Imodium recommend a doctor. 1990s the country’s
should only be used if tourist attractions have
you have to travel or if the
symptoms don’t clear up & Doctors
Most hotels and
been flooded with armed
security. No tourists
after a couple of days. better pharmacies should were harmed during the
be able to recommend a 2011 anti-government
$ Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can be a
good English-speaking
doctor. They charge for
protests, but it is wise
to check the current
nuisance. Five-star hotels consultations – expect to situation with the Foreign
are usually air-tight and pay around £E100. Office before travel.

121
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Left Copper- and brassware Centre Glasses of tea Right A shop in a souq

Shopping and Eating Tips


! Haggling
If you shop in the $ Antiquities
Do not be fooled into
viewed as a luxury item,
most basic menu items
souqs, haggling is buying any sort of are meat-free, such as
unavoidable. Prices are antiquity, pharaonic or fuul, taamiya, kushari and
never written down; you otherwise, as 99 per some types of fiteer.
have to ask and if you cent of these are fakes. Also, many of the meze
agree the first price the And if it is real, you are served in upmarket
shopkeeper names, you not allowed to take it out restaurants are based
will be paying way over of the country anyway – around beans, pulses,
the odds. If you want export of anything dating seeds and vegetables,
something, look around before the 20th century such as hummus, tahini
and ask the price at is illegal. and tabbouleh.
several different stalls.
Then decide how much
you are prepared to % Where to Shop
The most fun places * Taxes
Although restaurant
pay and make an offer for shopping are the prices are comparatively
well below it. colourful souqs in Cairo cheap compared to the
(Khan al-Khalili is the West, bills are subject
@ The Offer of Tea
When haggling, just
best) and the souq in
Aswan. For more
to a 12 per cent service
charge and a 10 per cent
because you accept a unusual items, Cairo has sales tax – in other
cup of tea from the some great boutiques, words you pay almost
shopkeeper does not particularly in the 25 per cent more than
mean that you are under upmarket neighbourhoods the prices listed on
any obligation to buy. If of Zamalek and Doqqi the menu.
you are not happy with (see p76).
the price you should walk
( Tipping
away. Bear in mind that
however little you pay, a ^ Types of
Restaurants
In addition to the
service charge (see above)
shopkeeper will never Egypt doesn’t have a it is expected that you tip
sell anything at a loss. strong tradition of dining in restaurants. Egyptians
out and even a city as big always do, and as rich
£ What to Buy
Tourist souvenirs are
as Cairo has surprisingly
few good restaurants
foreigners your waiter
will be mortally offended
plentiful (see pp54–5). outside of the five-star if you don’t. The standard
Copper- and brassware hotels. What there is in is around 10 per cent.
(pots, trays and hanging abundance, however, is
lamps) are particularly
worth buying as Egyptian
good street food, in the
form of fuul, taamiya, ) Opening Hours
Streetfood vendors
craftsmanship in kushari and fiteer (see tend to keep long hours,
metalwork is generally pp58–9). Kebabs, often opening around 7am
excellent. The best served simply with or 8am for breakfast and
jewellery and carpets are bread and salad, are staying open until after
produced by the Bedouin always tasty, too. midnight. Restaurants
and are found only in will open for lunch, close
boutiques, rather than in
the souqs where the & Vegetarians
The concept of
in the afternoon and then
reopen in the evening,
quality can be poor. Spices vegetarianism is usually from 7pm until
are cheap and excellent incomprehensible to 11pm. Few restaurants
quality, while the opposite most Egyptians. However, outside Cairo stay open
is true of clothing. given that meat is until very late.

122
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Left Guide at a temple Centre Cruise ship moored at Luxor Right Edfu Temple

Cruise Tips
! The Options
Nile cruises booked $ What to Wear
In addition to light * Booking
For the best choice
as a package holiday can clothes for sightseeing of Nile cruises go to a
be good value. Seven it’s worth bringing specialist such as Nile
nights on a boat plus something slightly more Cruises Direct or
flights can be much formal for dinner, although Discover Egypt. Prices
cheaper than flights alone none of the boats require are higher at peak times,
booked independently. jacket and tie. It can get which include Christmas,
The downside is that you chilly at night on the river New Year and Easter.
will be on a big boat with so bring something a bit When booking, avoid
hundreds of other tourists. warmer for a late-night berths on the lower
If you have the budget drink on deck. decks, which offer the
it’s worth paying more poorest views. d www.
nilecruisesdirect.com
for a smaller boat with
an agency such as % Food
Three meals a day are • www.discoveregypt.co.uk
Abercrombie and Kent included on all package
or Voyages Jules Verne.
d www.akegypt.com
cruises, with packed
lunches for excursions. ( Dahabiyyas
These replicas of
• www.vjv.co.uk Meals are buffet, mixing 19th-century sailboats
Egyptian with international are the Rolls-Royces
@ Itineraries
There are two basic
dishes – something for
everyone. The quality of
among Nile cruisers.
Advantages are gorgeous
itineraries. The most the fare depends on the period surrounds, high-
popular is seven nights boat, but at the higher class cuisine and a small
from Luxor to Aswan and end it is very good indeed. number of fellow
back again. The other travellers. Prices are,
option is to sail one way
spending two to three ^ Evening
Entertainment
of course, high. Most
boats are privately owned
nights on board depending Most boats have a bar by small companies,
on which direction you or lounge and will host a including Nour el-Nil,
sail. There’s also a Lake galabiyya party, where all Nubian Nile Cruises and
Nasser cruise, which takes are encouraged to dress Dahabiyya. d www.
three, four or eight days, in the traditional Egyptian nourelnil.com • www.
depending on whether men’s robe (sold onboard). nubiannilecruises.com
you depart from Aswan or Some boats feature local • www.dahabiyya.com
Abu Simbel (see below). musicians, while the
bigger boats have a
) Lake Nasser
£ What Will I See?
Sailing from Luxor,
disco-party every night. The lesser-known
alternative to a Nile cruise
the boat stops at Edfu
and Kom Ombo before & Guides
All boats have their
visits Aswan, Abu Simbel
and several temples in
spending two nights at own tour guides to between (see p113). Luxor
Aswan, where you visit shepherd tourists around is not included but you
Philae and have the option the ancient sites and can visit it independently.
of paying for an extra answer questions. The Highlights are the lake’s
excursion to Abu Simbel. more upmarket boats unspoilt desert scenery
The return leg visits Esna have trained Egyptologists and relative solitude (only
and, on docking at Luxor, who also deliver lectures six boats operate on the
includes a full-day’s about the sites that will lake). The best boats are
sightseeing at Karnak be visited on the run by Belle Epoque Travel.
and the West Bank. following day. d www.eugenie.com.eg

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Left Hotel doorman Centre Kempinksi Nile Hotel Right Inside the historic Cairo Marriott

Accommodation Tips
! Staying in Cairo
The most convenient $ Making
Reservations * Historic Hotels
You can book yourself
places to stay are by the Most Egyptian hotels into a piece of history at
Nile in central Cairo, and even hostels have a number of historic
which is close to the Internet booking, but you hotels (see pp52–3)
Egyptian Museum, Khan should always follow up mostly built in the late
al-Khalili and Islamic Cairo. with an email and print 19th century when
A number of five-star out the confirmation. Egypt was enjoying its
hotels are located in the Egyptian hoteliers are first tourist boom. Most
neighbourhood of the famously slipshod when of these properties are
Pyramids but this means it comes to bookings and now managed by
all the other sites of it is not unheard of for international hotel chains
Cairo are a long taxi- guests to turn up and and offer all the facilities
ride away. find their reservation has expected of a five-star
not been recorded. establishment, but with
@ Luxor and Aswan added period charm.
Both Luxor and
% Finding Something
on the Spot
Aswan are small enough
that, in terms of location, Out of season (June– ( Hotel Touts
Tourists arriving at
it doesn’t really matter August) this is possible the railway station in
where you stay. All of the but at other times it is Luxor or Aswan are
best accommodation not recommended. All swamped by touts
clusters around the Nile the best places get offering cheap rooms.
and you should make booked up in advance Most are hustling for
sure that your room has and at peak times commissions. The hotel
river views. An interesting (Christmas, New Year, they recommend is
alternative in Luxor is to Easter and Islamic feasts) simply the one that
stay on the relatively even the worst places charges the highest
undeveloped West Bank, will also be fully booked. commission – and most
where facilities tend to often it’s the seediest
be more basic but this is
compensated for by the ^ Tipping
Service workers are
hotels that need the help
of the touts to fill their
timeless rural setting. badly paid in Egypt and rooms. The tout’s
tipping the staff is never commission will be
Price amiss. The simplest way added to your bill.
£ Considerations is to leave something in
Prices are highest around
Christmas, New Year and
your room for the maids.
Porters who carry your ) Hotel Rerouting
In Cairo some taxi
Easter, and also during bags to your room should drivers ferrying tourists
the Islamic feasts of Eid receive £E5. from the airport top up
al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, their earnings by touting
which fall at the end of
Ramadan. Conversely, & Hidden Extras
Hotel rooms are
for hotels. They may tell
you that the hotel for
out of season (June– subject to about an extra which you’re heading is
August), it is often 20 per cent in taxes. In now closed and they can
possible to get some two- or three-star hotels recommend somewhere
excellent deals. Rates you may be charged extra better. This is not true
are usually quoted in for air conditioning, fridge and the recommended
US dollars, although if and TV. Check when hotel is paying drivers
paying by cash you do booking that the rate for any guests they
so in Egyptian pounds. quoted is all-inclusive. can steer its way.

124
Price Categories
For a standard, £ under £E350
double room per ££ £E350–700
night (with breakfast £££ £E700–1,000
if included), taxes ££££ £E1,000–1,500
and extra charges. £££££ over £E1,500

Streetsmart
Mena House Oberoi

Top-End Hotels in Cairo


! Cairo Marriott
The former palace
superb, but this is the
newer of the two and
great area and you’ll be
reliant on taxis. d Map
has undergone a great has a more central D4 • Midan Galaa, Doqqi
deal of change but it still location. d Map E5 • 02 3336 9800 • www.star
boasts some glorious • 1089 Corniche al-Nil, woodhotels.com • ££££
public spaces and the Garden City • 02 2791 7000
• www.fourseasons.com/
nicest garden in town
(see p52). d Map E2 caironp • £££££ * Kempinski
Hotel
Nile

• 16 Sharia Saraya al-Gezira, Guests here can enjoy


Zamalek • 02 2728 3000
• www.marriott.com • ££££ % Grand Hyatt
A vast, 716-room
butler service, a luxury
spa and a rooftop pool
hotel, the Grand Hyatt with stunning views. Its
Osmanly restaurant (see
@ Villa Belle Epoque
This 1920s villa with
sits commandingly on
the very northern tip of p60) serves exceptional
13 period-style rooms, the island of Rhoda, just Turkish food. d Map E5
beautiful leafy gardens, south of central Cairo. • Corniche al-Nil, 12 Sharia
pool and conservatory Almost all rooms enjoy Ahmed Ragheb, Garden
dining room is Cairo’s first fantastic Nile views and City • 02 2798 0000
boutique hotel. It is in the the facilities are first class. • www.kempinski.com/cairo
leafy Ma’adi suburb, 10 km d Map E5 • Corniche • £££££
(6 miles) south of central al-Nil, Rhoda • 02 2365
Cairo. d Map J2 • Short 1234 • www.cairo.grand.
walk from Rd 9, Maadi hyatt.com • £££££ ( Semiramis
InterContinental
• 02 2516 9656 • www. This is possibly the best-
villabelleepoque.com
• £££££ ^ Mena House
Oberoi
located hotel in town – it
is on the river, just south
The hotel with the most of Midan Tahrir. River-
£ Conrad
International
distinguished pedigree of
any in Egypt opened in
facing rooms have fine
views of the Opera House
The Conrad is one of the 1869 and has played host on the island of Gezira.
city’s most luxurious to generations of world There are a couple of
hotels – it has five leaders and royals. The excellent hotel restaurants
executive levels, a health location beside the and good facilities all
club, a casino and a Pyramids is unique, but round. d Map E4
helipad. The restaurants make sure to book rooms • Corniche al-Nil, Garden City
are superb. Next door is in the main building and • 02 2795 7171 • www.
an upmarket shopping not in the modern garden ichotelsgroup.com • £££££
mall, but otherwise you annex (see p52).
d Map H2 • Pyramids
need a taxi to get
anywhere. d Map E1 Road, Giza • 02 3377 3222 ) Sofitel al-Gezira
This is one of Cairo’s
• 1191 Corniche al-Nil, Bulaq • www.oberoimenahouse. most stylish hotels. Public
• 02 2580 8000 • www. com • £££££ spaces look stunning
conradhotels.com • ££££ and as the hotel is a
& Cairo Sheraton cylindrical tower on the
$ Four Seasons
Nile Plaza
One of the city’s oldest
five-star establishments,
southern tip of the island
of Gezira, all rooms have
There are two Four this 650-room hotel sits terrific Nile views.
Seasons hotels in town beside the river on the d Map D–E5 • 3 Sharia
(the other is the Four west bank of the Nile. Half al-Majlis al-Thawra, Gezira
Seasons at the First of the rooms have good • 02 2737 3737 • www.
Residence). Both are river views but it’s not a sofitel.com • £££££

Unless otherwise stated, all rooms have en-suite bathrooms 125


and air conditioning
Streetsmart

Left Flamenco Centre Talisman Right Cosmopolitan Hotel

Mid-Range Hotels in Cairo


! Flamenco
The Flamenco is a
decorated in rich colours,
while common areas
Cairo. Make sure to ask
for an inward-facing pool-
well-maintained business are filled with examples view room, and not one
hotel in a fashionable of Egyptian arts and on the main road. d Map
area full of cafés and crafts. It’s a stunning D5 • 60 Sharia al-Giza, Doqqi
restaurants. It has two hotel in a great location. • 02 3336 7000 • www.
bars and there’s a 24-hour d Map G3 • 39 Sharia pyramisaegypt.com • ££££
Internet café opposite. Talaat Harb, Downtown
• 02 2393 9431 • ££
It’s worth paying the
premium for a room with * Grand Hotel
Built in 1939, the Grand
a view of the Nile. d Map Oasis Hotel is situated in the bustling
D1 • 2 Sharia al-Gezira % If you are considering heart of Downtown. The
al-Wusta, Zamalek • 02 staying by the Pyramids rooms are clean and its
2735 0815 • www.golden the Oasis offers good marbled bathrooms are
tulipflamenco.com • £££ value for money: spacious, divine, but most period
comfortable rooms; free fixtures have gone. Prices
@ Hotel President
It is often possible to
shuttle bus Downtown;
numerous restaurants
include dinner; no alcohol
is served. d Map G3 • 17
get bargain rates through and bars; and an attractive Sharia 26th July, Downtown
on-line booking agencies garden swimming pool. • 02 2575 7700 • www.
at this three-star hotel. d Map H2 • Cairo– grandhotelcairo.com • ££
Although located some Alexandria Desert Road
• 02 3838 7333 • www.
distance from the main
sights, the backstreets of oasis.com.eg • ££££ ( Baron Hotel
Situated between the
Zamalek are lively with airport and central Cairo,
plenty of good cafés,
bars and restaurants. ^ Cosmopolitan
Hotel
the Baron Hotel is modern
with full amenities, and
d Map D1 • 22 Taha This historic, lovely Art overlooks the remarkable
Hussein, Zamalek • 02 2735 Nouveau-era hotel Baron’s Palace, a villa
0718 • www.president doesn’t quite live up to fashioned to resemble a
hotelcairo.com • ££ the old-world grandeur of Hindu temple. d Map J1
its foyer. Rooms are very • 8 Mahaad al-Sahari,
off the Airport Road,
£ Havana Hotel
A small Anglo-
basic but the location is
excellent and the room Heliopolis • 02 2291 5757
Egyptian, family-run rates are usually highly • www.baronhotelsegypt.
hotel, the Havana is well competitive (see p52). com • ££££
looked after and the staff d Map F3 • 1 Sharia Ibn
Talab, off Sharia Qasr al-
are very welcoming.
Mohandiseen is a Nil, Downtown • 02 2392 ) Hotel Longchamps
With only 22 rooms,
10-minute taxi ride from 3956 • ££ the Longchamps tends to
Downtown. d Map H1 be booked weeks in
• 26 Sharia Syria, Pyramisa Suites advance. It’s a homely
Mohandiseen • 02 3749 & Hotel hotel with good, clean
0758 • www.havanahotel The Ministry of Tourism rooms and a fine
cairo.com • ££ classes this as a five-star restaurant, and there are
hotel; it is not, but then plenty of shops and
$ Talisman
Quite close to being
neither are its mid-range
prices, for which you get
restaurants nearby.
d Map D1 • 21 Sharia
a boutique hotel in terms large rooms in a modern Ismail Mohammed, Zamalek
of style and service, the establishment a short • 02 2735 2311 • www.
Talisman’s rooms are taxi ride from central hotellongchamps.com • ££

126 Unless otherwise stated, all rooms have en-suite bathrooms


and air conditioning
Price Categories
For a standard, £ under £E350
double room per ££ £E350–700
night (with breakfast £££ £E700–1,000
if included), taxes ££££ £E1,000–1,500
and extra charges. £££££ over £E1,500

Streetsmart
Above Hotel Longchamps

Budget Hotels in Cairo


! Victoria Hotel
The Victoria is about
so much going on out-
side your balcony that * Horus
Hotel
House

a century old and is you may not want to More like a European
located approximately a sleep anyway. d Map J3 B&B than a hotel, this is
10-minute walk from the • Midan al-Hussein, entered a small, friendly family-
Egyptian Museum. It’s from the passage that leads run establishment on a
cleaner and better looked to Fishawi’s coffee house quiet residential street.
after than many hotels • 02 2591 8089 • £ Rooms vary in quality –
in this price range and ask for one that has been
has a small garden and
appealing period bar. % Garden City
House Hotel
recently renovated.
There’s a nice terrace,
d Map G2 • 66 Sharia A little run-down a breakfast room and
Gomhuriya, Downtown (although clean), this a small 24-hour bar.
• 02 2589 2290 • www. remains one of Cairo’s d Map D1 • 21 Sharia
victoria.com.eg • £ best budget options Ismail Mohammed, Zamalek
thanks to its friendly and • 02 2735 3634 • www.
horushousehotel.4t.com • £
@ Windsor Hotel
Almost nothing has
helpful staff. The location
is also excellent, just two
been changed since the
1950s at Cairo’s most
minutes’ walk from
Midan Tahrir. d Map F4 ( Hotel Osiris
The Osiris is a modern,
authentic period hotel – • 23 Sharia Kamal al-Din cosy hotel decorated in a
not so great perhaps Salah, Downtown • 02 unique Oriental-inspired
when it comes to its 2794 8400 • www.garden style. Located in the heart
plumbing and spartan cityhouse.com • £ of Downtown, it offers
furnishings, but this hotel quiet rooms, comfortable
is loved for its colonial air
(see p52). d Map G3 • 19 ^ Pension Roma
Usually booked solid,
beds, an Internet café and
a rooftop terrace with a
Sharia Alfy Bey, Downtown the Roma has an old- panoramic view of Cairo,
• 02 2591 5810 • www. world elegance and is as well as a restaurant
windsorcairo.com • £ well maintained. Rooms serving delicious home-
vary and some are enor- made Egyptian food.
d Map F4 • 49 Sharia
£ Mayfair
This quiet hotel in an
mous, but few have air
conditioning. d Map G3 Nubar, Bab al-Louq,
attractive 1930s residential • 169 Sharia Mohammed Downtown • 02 2794 5728
block has a nice breakfast Farid, Downtown • 02 2391 • www.hotelosiris.over-
terrace, free Wi-Fi and a 1088 • www.pensionroma. blog.com • £
kitchen. Not all rooms com.eg • £
have air conditioning.
d Map D2 • 9 Sharia Aziz ) Lotus Hotel

Osman, Zamalek • 02 2735 & Odeon


Hotel
Palace A hotel for the truly
budget-conscious, the
7315 • www.mayfaircairo. While there is nothing Lotus dates from 1950,
com • £ palatial about the Odeon, as is still reflected by the
its rooms are large, mattresses. However, the
$ Al-Hussein
This is one of the few
although a little worn
around the edges. The
location, just off Midan
Tahrir, is superb. The staff
hotels in the heart of 24-hour rooftop bar is are friendly and it’s a
medieval Cairo. Rooms popular with expats. great place to meet
are very basic, although d Map F3 • 6 Sharia Abdel fellow travellers.
they include a fridge and Hamid Said, Downtown d Map F4 • 12 Sharia
some have air condition- • 02 2577 6637 • www. Talaat Harb • 02 2575 0966
ing. It is noisy but there’s hodeon.com • £ • www.lotushotel.com • £

127
Streetsmart

Left Windsor Palace, Alexandria Centre Mercure Forsan Island Right Cecil Hotel, Alexandria

Hotels Beyond Cairo


! Four Seasons
Hotel Alexandria
the period detail, but the
rooms are large and many
have en-suite bathrooms,
but the best provide
A luxurious hotel, the have views over the great value. d Map S2
Four Seasons has its own central square and the • 5 Sharia Adeeb Ishtak,
beach and marina, a spa attractive Eastern Harbour off the Corniche, Eastern
and a circular infinity (see p53). d Map S2 Harbour • 03 480 0330 • £
pool on a fourth-floor • 52 Sharia Saad Zaghloul
• 03 486 1467 • www.
terrace. All rooms have
sea views. d Map S2 paradiseinnegypt.com • £££ * Hotel de la Poste,
Port Said
• 399 Sharia al-Geish, San Entering the Hotel de la
Stefano • 03 581 8000 Windsor Palace, Poste is like stepping
• www.fourseasons.com/ % Alexandria back in time. Although
alexandria • £££££ Perched since 1906 on renovated, it retains many
the Corniche facing the of its early 20th-century
@ Al-Salamlek,
Alexandria
sea, the Palace is an old
hotel with “cage lifts”
fixtures. The high-
ceilinged rooms are basic
Al-Salamlek more than and high-ceilinged rooms. but have fans. Except for
makes up for a fairly Facilities are limited but if a small restaurant and bar,
remote, if picturesque, you get a sea-facing facilities are sparse, but
location in former royal room you’ll spend all your the location is central.
gardens, 11 km (7 miles) time soaking up the view. d Map B1 • Sharia
east of Alexandria city d Map S2 • Corniche, al-Gumhurriya • 066 322
centre. Once a lodge Eastern Harbour • 03 480 4048 • £
for royal guests, it 8700 • www.paradise
recreates a belle époque innegypt.com • £££
experience (see p53). ( Resta Port Said
At the north end of
d Map T1 • Montazah Union Hotel, town by the mouth of the
• 03 547 7999 • www. ^ Alexandria Suez Canal, this is a
sangiovanni.com • £££££ The best of Alexandria’s modern, international
budget options, the hotel with sea views.
£ Cecil Hotel,
Alexandria
Union is on the Corniche
facing the sea, although
Rooms are well equipped
and there are restaurants,
Alexandria’s most famous not many rooms actually a small shopping centre
hotel gained its fame in enjoy the view. Some and a pool. d Map B1
the 1930s–40s when rooms can also be tiny • Sharia Sultan Hussein
it was one of the city’s and not all have en-suite • 066 332 5511 • www.
glitziest social venues. bathrooms, so consider restahotels.com • ££££
It is now in its dotage paying a little extra for a
but still boasts a superb
central location and
deluxe room on the upper
floor. d Map S2 • Corniche, ) Mercure Forsan
Island, Ismailia
period charm (see p53). Eastern Harbour • 03 480 The Mercure is a modern
d Map S2 • 16 Midan Saad 7312 • £ hotel in a fabulous
Zaghloul • 03 487 7173 setting of large leafy
• www.sofitel.com • ££££
& Crillon Hotel,
Alexandria
grounds on the edge of
the Suez Canal. It has a
$ Metropole,
Alexandria
After the Union the
Crillon is Alexandria’s
private beach where you
can sunbathe and watch
The Metropole is one of next best budget hotel. the tankers sail by.
Alexandria’s grand old Within an old apartment d Map B2 • Forsan Island
hotels. Clumsy makeovers block, rooms vary in size • 064 391 6316 • www.
have obscured some of and facilities, and not all mercure.com • ££

128 Unless otherwise stated, all rooms have en-suite bathrooms


and air conditioning
Price Categories
For a standard, £ under £E350
double room per ££ £E350–700
night (with breakfast £££ £E700–1,000
if included), taxes ££££ £E1,000–1,500
and extra charges. £££££ over £E1,500

Streetsmart
Opulent interior of Al-Moudira

Luxury Hotels in Luxor


• Kings Island • 095 227
! Old Winter Palace
The oldest hotel in
and, in the strangely
named Pink Panda, it 4855 • www.jolieville-
town is still the finest. has Upper Egypt’s only hotels.com • ££££
Rooms have high ceilings Chinese restaurant. d Map
X6 • Sharia Khaled Ibn
and bathrooms the size
of tennis courts. The views al-Walid, East Bank • 095 * El-Luxor Hotel
Midway between
from the front rooms 237 0100 • www.pyramisa Luxor Temple and the
across the Nile to the West egypt.com • ££–£££ Luxor Museum, the
Bank are unbeatable El-Luxor boasts a good
(see p53). d Map Y2–3
• Corniche al-Nil, East Bank % Al-Moudira
In a remote location
location and has an
appealing pool. Aim to
• 095 2380 422 • www. and surrounded by sugar- get a room with a Nile
sofitel.com • £££££ cane fields, Al-Moudira is view and set your alarm
an oasis – a low-rise hotel for 6am to watch the hot-
@ Sofitel Karnak
About 6 km (4 miles)
of traditional mud-brick
architecture set in lush
air balloons drifting above
the West Bank. d Map Z1
from Luxor town centre, gardens. Rooms are • Corniche al-Nil, East Bank
this is a stylish hotel set spacious and striking. • 095 238 0944 • www.
within its own extensive A real experience. d Map el-luxor-hotel.com • £££
gardens filled with palm B4 • Haggar Daba’iyya,
5 km (3 miles) from Luxor
trees and bougainvillea.
There are tennis courts Bridge, West Bank • 012 ( Steigenberger
Nile Palace Luxor
and a swimming pool 325 1307 • www.moudira. Rooms are comfortable,
by the Nile. d Map com • £££££ large and well equipped
Z4 • El Zinia Gebly in this highly rated hotel
Street, East Bank • 095
237 8020 • www.sofitel. ^ Hilton Luxor
Resort & Spa
by the Nile. The house
restaurants (including
com • ££ Just north of the temple Lebanese, Thai and
of Karnak, this is Luxor’s Italian) are good and
£ Sheraton
Resort
Luxor most luxurious hotel.
Facilities include the
service is excellent.
d Map X6 • Sharia Khaled
At the very southern Nayara Spa with two Ibn al-Walid • 095 236 6999
end of Luxor town, the elevated infinity pools • www.steigenberger.com/
Sheraton is nevertheless overlooking the Nile and luxor • ££££
a short walk from the seven restaurants and
main shop and restaurant
strip. The garden setting
bars. If money is no
object, this is your option. ) Sonesta St George
One of the swankiest
beside the Nile is d Map Z2 • New Karnak, hotels on the strip south
attractive, but be warned – Luxor • 095 237 4933 of town, the Sonesta has
only the upper floors • www.hilton.com • £££££ full amenities, including
have Nile views. d Map pool and sunbeds. Service
X6 • Sharia Khaled Ibn al-
Walid, Awamiya, East Bank & Maritim Jolie Ville
Kings Island
and staff are excellent.
There is a pontoon area
• 095 227 4544 • www. Accommodation is in beside the Nile, which is
starwoodhotels.com • ££££ bungalows among palm wonderful for watching
trees on the hotel’s own the sun set over the
West Bank. d Map X6
$ Pyramisa Isis
The Pyramisa is a
island just south of Luxor
(there is a free shuttle). • Corniche al-Nil, East Bank
five-star complex within a This is a relaxing resort, • 095 238 2575 • www.
large garden by the Nile. great for walking and sonesta.com/Luxor
Rooms are good value birdwatching. d Map B4 • £££–££££

Recommend your favourite hotel on traveldk.com 129


Streetsmart

Left Hotel Sheherazade Centre Marsam Hotel Right El-Gezira Hotel

Good-Value Hotels in Luxor


! Gaddis Hotel
The Gaddis offers
after. It also has a good
café and restaurant.
pool from which there
are good views over the
faded three-star d Map Y2 • Off Sharia Nile. d Map Z1 • Sharia Dr
amenities, but often at Karnak, East Bank • 095 Labib Habachi, East Bank
very competitive rates. It 237 2386 • www.nefertiti • 095 237 2284 • www.
has pleasant rooms, free hotel.com • £ philippeluxorhotel.com • £
Wi-Fi, a pool and is
conveniently located close
to many restaurants. % Saint
Hotel
Joseph
* New Pola Hotel
A budget option
d Map X6 • Sharia Khaled From the outside this among the five-star
Ibn al-Walid, East Bank modern hotel is less than hotels on Luxor’s main
• 095 238 2838 • www. inspiring but inside it is hotel strip, this is a
gaddis-hotel.co.uk • £ smart with spacious modern, high-rise hotel
rooms that have their with good views from
@ Windsor Hotel
Located one block
own balconies – make
sure to book one that
upper Nile-facing rooms.
It has shaded gardens
away from the Corniche faces the Nile. There is and a rooftop pool.
near the Luxor Museum, also a rooftop garden and d Map X6 • Sharia Khalid
the Windsor is slightly swimming pool. d Map Ibn al-Walid, East Bank
shabby but the staff are X6 • Sharia Khalid Ibn al- • 095 236 5081 • www.
friendly. It has a small Walid, East Bank • 095 238 newpola hotel.com • £
courtyard swimming pool 1707 • £
and most rooms have a
balcony. d Map Z1 ( El-Gezira Hotel &

• Sharia Nefertiti, East Bank ^ Hotel


Sheherazade
Gezira Gardens
The Al-Gezira is a popular
• 095 237 5547 • £ The architecture of the budget hotel with a roof
Sheherazade is stunning garden, a minute’s walk
£ Al-Nakhil
Situated on the edge
and reflects the
traditional Islamic style
from the West Bank ferry
landing. Nearby, the
of the small village of described in the book Gezira Gardens is a mini-
Al-Gezira a few minutes’ One Thousand and One holiday village of self-
walk from the ferry Arabian Nights. The catering apartments
landing on the West rooms are homely and sleeping four right by the
Bank, Al-Nakhil provides comfortable. This is an Nile. d Map X5 • Bairat
a chance to sample local exceptional hotel in al-Gezira, West Bank • 095
life. While a small hotel, Al-Gezira village, just 231 0034 • www.el-gezira.
the staff are friendly and by the ferry landing. com • £
it is beautifully decorated d Map X5 • Bairat
al-Gezira, West Bank
and surrounded by palm
trees. d Map X5 • Bairat • 010 6115 939 • www. ) Marsam Hotel
Located among the
al-Gezira, West Bank • 095 hotelsheherazade.com • £ ancient monuments, the
2313 922 • www.el-nakhil. Marsam was built for
com • £ Philippe Hotel American archaeologists
& Situated near the in the 1920s. It has 30
$ Nefertiti Hotel
In as central a
Luxor Museum, just off
the Corniche, this three-
simple mudbrick rooms,
some with private baths
location as is possible, star hotel has 69 rooms and air conditioning, set
this hotel overlooks that are pleasant, if a around a courtyard and a
Luxor Temple. Although a little impersonal and old- lovely garden. d Map V3
budget hotel, it is classy, fashioned. It has a roof • Gurna, West Bank • 010
friendly and well looked garden with a swimming 342 6471 • £

130 Unless otherwise stated, all rooms have en-suite bathrooms


and air conditioning
Price Categories
For a standard, £ under £E350
double room per ££ £E350–700
night (with breakfast £££ £E700–1,000
if included), taxes ££££ £E1,000–1,500
and extra charges. £££££ over £E1,500

Streetsmart
Above Isis Island Hotel, Aswan

Top Aswan & Abu Simbel Hotels


! Old Cataract,
Aswan
over the Nile. Its richly-
planted gardens harbour
sure to get a balcony
facing the Nile as views
This is Aswan’s grand a large, heated and are excellent. Room
old hotel, built in 1899 floodlit swimming pool. prices are open to
on the finest site in all The 189 rooms may be negotiation. d Map T4
Egypt overlooking the a little dated but are a • Corniche al-Nil • 097 233
first cataract of the Nile. generous size. d Map S6 0102 • www.marhaba-
Part of Sofitel’s range of • Sharia Al-Fanadek • 097 aswan.com • ££
hotels, the interior is 231 0901 • www.
executed in a beautiful basmahotel.com • ££ Orchida St
neo-Islamic style (see *George, Aswan
p53). d Map S6 • Sharia
Abtal al-Tahrir • 097 231 % New Cataract,
Aswan
Centrally located on a
pedestrianized street
6000 • www.sofitel.com This is a modern annex near the Corniche, this
• ££££ of the Old Cataract, built hotel has a small rooftop
by the Soviets in the swimming pool with
@ Mövenpick
Aswan
Resort 1960s. Its architecture
is quite unattractive but
great views of the
Nile. There is a large
This hotel is reached by it is much cheaper than restaurant. d Map T5
boat. It enjoys a terrific its venerable neighbour • Sharia Mohammed Khalid,
setting amidst the palm and guests benefit by Corniche al-Nil • 097 231
groves on the northern being able to share the 5997 • www.orchida-sg-
tip of Elephantine Island swimming pool and hotel.com • ££
and has good facilities, beautiful tropical garden.
d Map S6 • Sharia Abtal
spectacular views and a
lovely swimming pool. al-Tahrir • 097 231 6000 ( Seti Abu Simbel
An overnight stay in
d Elephantine Island • www.sofitel.com Abu Simbel provides the
• Map S5 • 097 230 34 55 • ££££ opportunity to see the
• www.moevenpick-hotels. Temple of Ramses II after
com • £££££
^ Isis Corniche
Hotel, Aswan
the crowds have returned
to Aswan. Situated right
£ Isis
Aswan
Island Hotel, On the Corniche in the
centre of Aswan, this is a
by Lake Nasser, this is
the top hotel in town,
A large five-star hotel small resort hotel, not as with a garden and three
that occupies its own fancy as some of the swimming pools that
island just to the south competition but with overlook the lake.
of Aswan, the Isis has decent rooms and a d Map B6 • Abu Simbel
a full array of facilities, swimming pool beside Lake Resort • 097 340 0720
including two swimming the river. The hotel faces • www.setifirst.com • £££
pools and a spa. Guests the northern end of
are ferried to the shore
by private launch.
Elephantine Island.
d Map T5 • Corniche al-Nil ) Nefertari,
Abu Simbel
d Map R6 • Isis Island • 097 231 5200 • ££ Although this is not as
• 097 231 7400 • www. attractive as the Seti, it
pyramisaegypt.com • ££££
& Marhaba
Aswan
Hotel, is cheaper. Rooms are
basic but it is close to
$ Basma
Aswan
Hotel, This large modern hotel
near the train station has
the temples and has lake
views and a pool. d Map
Perched on Aswan’s rooms of a decent size B6 • Abu Simbel • 097 340
highest hill, the Basma but some bathrooms are 0508 • www.nefertarihotel
offers a panoramic view poorly maintained. Make abusimble.net • ££

131
Price Categories
For a standard, £ under £E350
double room per ££ £E350–700
night (with breakfast £££ £E700–1,000
if included), taxes ££££ £E1,000–1,500
and extra charges. £££££ over £E1,500
Streetsmart

Keylany, Aswan

Budget Aswan & Abu Simbel Hotels


! Keylany, Aswan
This simple, small
the West Bank. The
rooms vary in size and
Noorhan is very basic
but rooms do have either
hotel is nevertheless quality but all have a air conditioning or fans.
smart and has a lovely fridge and air conditioning. This is the place to meet
rooftop breakfasting There is a small rooftop other independent
area, free Wi-Fi and an terrace with a swimming travellers. d Map T4
Internet café. It has a pool. d Map T5 • 99 • Off Sharia Souq • 097
good location, just off Corniche al-Nil • 097 231 231 6069 • £
the main souq street. 4580 • www.hathorhotel.
d Map T5 • Sharia Kaylany, com • £
off Sharia Salah ad-Din * Nubian Oasis
Hotel, Aswan
• 097 232 3134 • www.
keylanyhotel.com • £ % Sara Hotel, Aswan
If you are in Aswan
This is a perennial
backpacker favourite,
to get away from it all, although more for
@ Nuba
Aswan
Nile Hotel, this may be the hotel to
choose – it’s built on a
the atmosphere and
camaraderie rather
Located just off the clifftop overlooking the than the quality of the
large square in front Nile about two miles facilities. The rooms with
of the railway station, south of town. It boasts bathrooms cost extra.
this hotel is a decent fantastic views over the It has a lounge and roof
budget option. It has first cataract and the garden where beer is
friendly staff and desert beyond. Rooms served. d Map T4
comfortable rooms are spotless and there’s • 234 Sharia Saad Zaghloul
that have a fridge and a good-sized swimming • 097 231 2126/2123 • £
satellite television. pool. A shuttle bus runs
d Map T4 • Sharia Abtal al- into town hourly. d Map
Tahrir, off Midan al-Mahatta C5 • Sharia al-Fanadek, ( Bet el Kerem,
Aswan
• 097 231 3267 • £ Medinat Nasr • 097 232 Owned by a Dutch/
7235 • www.sarahotel- Nubian couple this is
aswan.com • ££
£ Philae
Aswan
Hotel, an apartment house by
the Nile within walking
The location of the Philae
Hotel can’t be faulted: ^ Nile Hotel, Aswan
Centrally located on
distance of the ferry. It
has seven double rooms
on the Corniche facing the Corniche near the and is ideal for groups
the Nile, with the local ferry across to and families. d Map S4
colourful Aswan souq Elephantine Island, this is • Nagh al-Kuba, West Bank
one block behind it and a modern hotel offering • 019 384 2218 • www.
the ferry to Elephantine 30 rooms, all with betelkerem.com • £
Island almost opposite. wonderful Nile views.
The hotel is modern and It has a restaurant, bar Eskaleh EcoLodge,
comfort able with all basic and Wi-Fi. d Map S5 )Abu Simbel
facilities. d Map S5 • 79 • 15 Corniche al-Nil • 097 Run by a Nubian musician
Corniche al-Nil • 097 231 231 4222 • www.nilehotel- and his family this is a
2090 • £ aswan.com • ££ charming lodge built in
traditional style with five
$ Hathor
Aswan
Hotel,
& Noorhan, Aswan
A major backpacker
rooms and an excellent
restaurant. It doubles as
The front-facing rooms haunt, just a few a Nubian cultural centre.
of this hotel on the minutes’ walk south of d Map B6 • 3 km (2 miles)
Corniche have fantastic the railway station, the south of Abu Simbel • 012
views across the river to accommodation at the 368 0521 • ££

132 Unless otherwise stated, all rooms have en-suite bathrooms


and air conditioning
Streetsmart
Left A dahabiyya operated by Nour El Nil Right Philae

Cruise Ships
! Philae
It is designed to look
80 passengers. Facilities
and service on both
16–20 passengers in
languorous luxury, taking
like a Mississippi paddle boats are top-class and six days to sail from
steamer, but no luxury is include an onboard Luxor to Aswan.
spared on this boat Egyptologist. d www. d www.nourelnil.com
managed by Oberoi akegypt.com
Hotels. The 58 cabins
* MS Semiramis
and suites all have their
own balconies and are % SS Misr &
SS Karim
Thomas Cook & Sons
were the first people to
catered to by a butler The steamer SS Misr start Nile cruising as a
service. d www. was built in 1918 and commercial concern in
oberoihotels.com was used by King Farouk the 1870s. The modern-
(see p65), while the day incarnation of the
smaller SS Karim is even
@ Radamis I & II
These two large older and was also
company offers
competitively-priced
boats are operated by formerly used by royalty. packages. The MS
the Mövenpick group. Both boats are charming, Semiramis is one of
Slightly cheaper than the especially the SS Karim, the most comfortable
smaller cruise ships, their which has the ambience of the cruise ships with
facilities are nevertheless of a floating gentleman’s 66 cabins and full
five-star, and there are club. The boats are facilities. d www.
options of four-day, leased to the high-end thomascook.com
five-day and eight-day travel company Voyage
packages. d www.
movenpick-nilecruises.com
Jules Verne.
d www.vjv.co.uk ( SS Kasr Ibrim &
Eugénie
The alternative to a Nile
Sudan Star Goddess cruise is a Lake Nasser
£ One of the most ^ The Sonesta cruise. These were the
exclusive vessels on the Collection of Hotels, first two boats on the
Nile, the Sudan was built Resorts and Cruises lake and remain the best.
in the late 19th century operates five Nile Both are grand, belle
and used by King Fouad I cruisers, including the époque-style ships with
of Egypt and Sudan, and standard Moon Goddess spacious cabins and
during the filming of the and Sun Goddess. The luxurious amenities, such
film version of Agatha Star Goddess is the as a steam bath on the
Christie’s Death on most exclusive ship and Eugénie. d www.eugenie.
the Nile. Each cabin has has 33 suites named com.eg, www.kasribrim.
its own small balcony. after composers, each com.eg
d www.steam-ship-sudan. with its own terrace and
com full-size bathtub. d www.
sonesta.com/NileCruises ) MS Tania
One of the less
Sun Boat III & IV expensive cruise ships
$ These are two
beautiful vessels & Assouan, Al-Nil,
Meroe & Malouka
that sails Lake Nasser
between Aswan and
operated by Abercrombie All four of these boats, Abu Simbel is this
& Kent, one of the operated by Nour El Nil, elegant vessel with
leading tour agencies are dahabiyyas – replicas 28 cabins, which is
specializing in Egypt. of the old-style sailboats operated by local
Boat III takes just that ferried 19th-century Egyptian travel
36 passengers, passengers up the Nile. company Travco.
while Boat IV carries They all carry only d www.travcotels.com

Sign up for DK’s email newsletter on traveldk.com 133


General Index
Page numbers in bold type Amr ibn al-As 43 Biblioteca Alexandrina
refer to main entries.
Amun 16, 17, 37, 113 (Alexandria) 95
1886 Restaurant, Old Winter Temple of (Karnak) 16, 18-19 bird-watching 105
Palace (Luxor) 61, 106 ancient treasures abroad 41 Birqash Camel Market 93
Index

1902 Restaurant, Old Cataract And Company (Cairo) 76 Birth Colonnade (Temple of
(Aswan) 61 Andrea (Cairo) 79 Hatshepsut) 23
angling (Lake Nasser) 113 Birth House (Philae) 29
A animal danger 121 boats, Nile 26, 117
Abdeen Palace Museum (Cairo) Ankhma-Hor, Tomb (Saqqara) 94 La Bodega (Cairo) 61, 79
74 antiquities, buying 122 books, set in Egypt 49
Abdou, Fifi 64 Anubis 22, 37 Botanical Garden (Karnak) 19
Abou Tarek Koshari (Cairo) 78 Aqua at the Four Seasons Nile brassware 54
Abu al-Haggag Mosque (Luxor) Plaza (Cairo) 60, 79 British, in Egypt 43
21 Arab–Israeli War 43, 74 Buddha Bar (Cairo) 60, 79
Abu al-Sid (Cairo) 60, 77, 79 Arabic Music Institute (Cairo) 75 Bulaq (Cairo) 70, 72
Abu Bassem Grill (Cairo) 89 architecture, Islamic 44–5 burial traditions 36
Abu Shakra (Cairo) 79 art galleries 67, 75 buses, long distance 117
Abu Simbel 7, 26, 30-1, 39, see also museums
111, 113 Assasif Tombs (Luxor) 103 C
hotels 131–2 Aswan 108–13 Café Riche (Cairo) 73, 75
Abu Sir 92 hotels 124, 131–2 cafés
Abydos 38, 107 Aswan Dam 28, 110, 112 Central Cairo 78
accommodation 124–33 Aswan Museum 111, 112 Luxor 106
Aga Khan Mausoleum (Aswan) Aswan Souq 55, 109, 111 Old Cairo 89
112 Aten Temple (Karnak) 102 Cairo
Agricultural Museum (Cairo) 74 ATMs 118 art & culture venues 75
Ahmose, Pharaoh 35 Attarine (Alexandria) 55 Central Cairo 70–9
air travel 117 Atum 102 The Citadel 83, 86
Akhenaten 9, 35, 102, 107 L’Aubergine (Cairo) 79 Coptic Cairo 84, 88
Akher Saa (Cairo) 78 Augustus, Emperor 113 day trips 90–5
Al-Aqmar Mosque (Cairo) 85, 87 Avenue of Sphinxes food & drink 78–9, 89
Al-Azhar Mosque (Cairo) 6, 14– Karnak 16 hotels 124, 125–7
15, 45, 85 Luxor Temple 20, 101 Islamic monuments 83–6, 87
Al-Azhar Park (Cairo) 56, 83 Ay, Tomb (Luxor) 104 museums 71, 72, 74, 84, 86
Al-Borg (Port Said) 61, 93 Azza Fahmy Boutique (Cairo) 76 Old Cairo 82–9
Al-Dahan (Cairo) 89 shopping 76
Al-Ghouri, Sultan 87 B unmissable experiences 77
Al-Hussein (Cairo) 127 Bab Zuweyla (Cairo) 87 walking tours 73, 85
Al-Kab 107 banks 118 Cairo International Book Fair 63
Al-Moudira (Luxor) 106, 129 Baron Hotel (Cairo) 126 Cairo International Film Festival
Al-Nakhil (Luxor) 130 bars 66 62
Al-Qahira (Cairo) 76, 82 Bashayer (Cairo) 76 Cairo Jazz Club 75
Al-Salamlek (Alexandria) 53, 128 Basma Hotel (Aswan) 131 Cairo Marriott 52, 77, 125
Al-Sawy Culture Wheel (Cairo) Baybars 43 Cairo Opera House Complex 71
75 begging 119 Cairo Sheraton 125
alcohol 66, 120 beit (private houses) 44 Cairo Tower 71, 77
Alexander the Great 35, 93 Beit al-Harawi (Cairo) 15 Caleche Rides (Luxor) 105
Alexandria 35, 93, 95 Beit al-Sihaymi (Cairo) 45, 66, camels 92
hotels 128 85, 87 camel rides 13, 57
underwater discoveries at 41 Beit Zeinab (Cairo) 15 markets 93, 107
Alexandria National Museum belly dancing 66, 77 car hire 117
47, 95 Belzoni, Giovanni Battista 40 carpets 54–5
Amada, Temple of (Lake Ben Ezra Synagogue (Cairo) 88 Carriage Museum (Cairo) 86
Nasser) 113 Benia, Tomb (Luxor) 103 Carter, Howard 25, 104
Amenhotep III 21, 101, 102 Bent Pyramid (Dashur) 91 Catacombs of Kom as-Shoqafa
Tomb 24 Bet el Kerem (Aswan) 132 (Alexandria) 95

134
Cavafy Museum (Alexandria) 95 creation myth 37 Eid al-Adha 63
Cecil Hotel (Alexandria) 53, 128 credit cards 118 El Abd bakery (Cairo) 73, 77
cemeteries 45, 85, 88, 112 Crillon Hotel (Alexandria) 53, 128 El-Gezira Hotel (Luxor) 106, 130
Central Cairo 70–9 crime 121 El-Luxor Hotel 129
Champillion, Jean-François 40 Crocodile Island 105 electricity 116

Index
Chapel of Anubis (Temple of crocodile temples (Kom Elephantine Island (Aswan) 109,
Hatshepsut) 22 Aushim) 91 111
Chapel of Hathor (Temple of crocodiles 113 entertainment 66–7, 123
Hatshepsut) 23 cruises 55, 123 Eskaleh EcoLodge (Abu Simbel)
Chapels of the Hearing Ear cruise ships 133 132
(Karnak) 19 Lake Nasser 27, 123 Esna 26, 107
charter flights 117 Nile 7, 26-7 Ethnological Museum (Cairo) 74
children’s activities 56–7 shopping 55 etiquette 14, 105, 119
Christian era 42, 84, 92 cult temples 36
Christie, Agatha 27, 49, 53 culture, ancient 36–7 F
churches currency 118 Farouk, King 43, 65
Church of the Virgin (Cairo) 88 cycling 105 Fatatri Pizza al-Tahrir (Cairo) 78
Hanging Church (Cairo) 88 Fatimid Cemetery (Aswan) 112
Qasr Ibrim (Lake Nasser) 113 D Fatimid Dynasty 42, 70
St Barbara (Cairo) 88 dahabiyyas 27, 123 Fayoum 91
St George (Cairo) 88 Daraw 107 Felfela (Cairo) 60, 73, 78, 79
St Sergius (Cairo) 88 Dashur 13 feluccas 27, 56, 77
Cilantro (Cairo) 78 Death on the Nile (book & film) Aswan 110, 111
cinema 66 27, 49 Luxor 105
The Citadel (Cairo) 83, 86 dehydration 120 festivals & events 62–3
Citadel Prison Museum (Cairo) Deir al-Bahri Cache 40 films, set in Egypt 48–9
86 Deir al-Medina (Luxor) 104 First Residence Mall (Cairo) 55
Citadel View Studio Misr (Cairo) Dendara, Temple of (Qena) 39, Fish Gardens (Cairo) 56
89 41, 107 Fishawi’s (Cairo) 89
Cleopatra (film) 48 Diwan Bookshop (Cairo) 57, 75 Flamenco (Cairo) 126
Cleopatra VII, Queen 35 Djoser 13, 35, 91, 94 Floor 10 at the Kempinski Nile
climate 116 doctors 121 Hotel (Cairo) 79
coffee houses 66, 77 dogs, wild 121 folkloric performances 67
Colonnade of Amenhotep III domes 44 Fontana Hotel (Cairo) 126
(Luxor Temple) 21 domestic flights 117 food and drink 58–9
The Colossi (Abu Simbel) 30 Donkey Trail (Luxor) 104 on cruises 123
Colossi of Memnon (Luxor) 101 Downtown (Cairo) 71 eating tips 122
Colossus of Ramses II (Karnak) Dr Ragab’s Papyrus Institute safety 120, 121
18 (Cairo) 55 see also bars; cafés;
Colossus of Ramses II Dr Ragab’s Pharaonic Village restaurants; streetfood
(Memphis) 91 (Giza) 57 Fort Qaitbey (Alexandria) 95
Conrad International (Cairo) 125 Dream Park (Cairo) 57 Four Seasons Hotel (Alexandria)
consulates 116 dress code 119, 123 128
Convent of St George (Cairo) 88 drinks, top 10 Egyptian 59 Four Seasons Nile Plaza (Cairo)
copperware 54 driving 117 125
Coptic Cairo 84, 88 drugs 120
Coptic Museum (Cairo) 46, 84 drunkenness 120 G
Copts 42, 46, 84, 88 Gad (Cairo) 78, 89
La Corniche, Old Winter Palace E Gaddis Hotel (Luxor) 130
(Luxor) 106 Edfu 26, 38, 107 Garden City (Cairo) 72
Cosmopolitan Hotel (Cairo) 52, Egyptian Museum (Cairo) 6, Garden City House Hotel
126 8–11, 46, 56, 71 (Cairo) 127
cotton 54, 76 Egyptian Pancake House (Cairo) Gawhara Palace (Cairo) 86
couriers 118 89 Gayer-Anderson Museum
Court of Amenhotep III (Luxor Egyptology 23 (Cairo) 45, 46
Temple) 21 milestones 40–1 Gezira Gardens (Luxor) 130
Court of Ramses II (Luxor Egypt’s Awakening (Mokhtar) Giza Plateau 12
Temple) 20 64 Giza, Pyramids of 6, 12-13, 57

135
Giza Zoo 56 I Khonsu 17
Glory of Thebes Hall (Luxor icons, popular 64–5 Temple (Karnak) 17
Museum) 102 Imam, Adel 64 Tomb (Luxor) 103
gods & goddesses 17, 37 Imhotep Museum (Saqqara) 47, Khufu 11, 35
golf 105 94 Pyramid (Giza) 12
Graeco-Roman Museum inlay work 55 kings & queens 35
Index

(Alexandria) 47, 95 insurance 116 King’s Head Pub (Luxor) 106


Grand Egyptian Museum (Giza) International Egyptian Marathon Kiosks
9, 11 63 Nectanebo (Philae) 28
Grand Hotel (Cairo) 126 Internet access 118 Qertassi (Lake Nasser) 113
Grand Hyatt (Cairo) 125 Irwin, Robert 49 Trajan (Philae) 29
Great Festival Temple (Karnak) Isis 29, 37 Kitchener, Horatio 109
18–19 Temple of (Philae) 28 Kitchener’s Island (Aswan) 109
guides 120, 123 Isis Corniche Hotel (Aswan) 131 Kom al-Dikka (Alexandria) 95
Isis Island Hotel (Aswan) 131 Kom Aushim 91
H Islam 42, 82 Kom Ombo 26, 107
Hadrian’s Gate (Philae) 29 architecture 44–5 Koshari al-Tahrir (Cairo) 78
Hafez, Abdel Halim 64, 67 etiquette 119
haggling 122 festivals 62–3 L
Hakim 67 Islamic Art, Museum of (Cairo) Lake Nasser 30, 108, 113
Hanging Church (Cairo) 88 45, 46, 74 cruises 27, 113
Hathor 23, 37, 102 Islamic Cairo 83 Lake Qarun 91
Temples 29, 31, 39, 107 Islamic Ceramics Museum Lakeside Café (Cairo) 89
Hathor Hotel (Aswan) 132 (Cairo) 74 The Lantern (Luxor) 106
Hatshepsut 23, 35 Ismail, Khedive 43, 70 Lateran Obelisk 19
Obelisks (Karnak) 18 Ismailia 92, 128 Lehnert & Landrock (Cairo) 76
Temple of (Luxor) 7, 22-3, 39, Israel, peace with 43 Longchamps, Hotel (Cairo) 127
100 Issa Island (Aswan) 112 Lotus Hotel (Cairo) 127
Havana Hotel (Cairo) 126 itineraries Luxor 98–107
health 120, 121 Aswan 111 excursions 107
Heba Linens (Cairo) 76 Central Cairo 73 hotels 124, 129–30
hieroglyphs 36, 40 Luxor 101 outdoor activities 105
High Dam (Aswan) 27, 28, 30, Medieval Cairo 85 restaurants & cafés 106
110, 111 Nile cruises 26, 123 Luxor Museum 99, 101, 102
Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa 129 Port Said 93 Luxor Statue Cache 41
history Luxor Temple 6, 20-1, 39, 99,
ancient 34–5 J 101
post-Pharaonic 42–3 jewellery 54, 76, 95
Horemheb 102 M
Tomb 24 K madrassas 14, 44
horse-riding 105 Ka-Aper, Statue of (Egyptian Al-Ghouri (Cairo) 87
Horus 29, 37 Museum) 10 Sultan Barquq (Cairo) 85, 87
Temples 38, 107 Kalabsha, Temple of (Lake Sultan Qalaoun (Cairo) 45, 85,
Horus House Hotel (Cairo) 127 Nasser) 113 87
hospitality 119 Karnak 6, 16–19, 39, 99 Mahfouz, Naguib 49, 64
hot-air ballooning 105 Karnak Cachette 40 Mahmoud Khalil Museum
hotels 55, 124–32 SS Kasr Ibrim 133 (Cairo) 72
Abu Simbel 131–2 Kebabgy (Luxor) 106 Mahmoud Mokhtar Museum
Alexandria 128 Kempinski Nile Hotel (Cairo) 125 (Cairo) 74
Aswan 131–2 Keylany (Aswan) 132 mail services 118
Cairo 125–7 Khafre 12, 13 Maison Thomas (Cairo) 77, 78
historic 52–3, 124 Pyramid (Giza) 13 Makan (Cairo) 75
Luxor 129–30 Khan al-Khalili (Cairo) 15, 55, 83, Mamluks 42
Port Said 128 85 La Mamma, Sheraton (Luxor)
Howard Carter’s House (Luxor) Khan al-Khalili Restaurant 106
104 (Cairo) 89 Mandarin Khadeer (Cairo) 78
hygiene 121 Khnum, Temples 107, 109 Manuscript Museum
hypostyle halls 18, 21, 31 Khokha Tombs (Luxor) 103 (Alexandria) 95

136
Manial Palace (Cairo) 45, 72 mosques (cont.) museums (cont.)
marble (inlaid) 45 an-Nasir Mohammed (Cairo) Open-Air (Karnak) 17
Marhaba Hotel (Aswan) 131 85, 87 Police (Cairo) 86
Mariette, Auguste 8, 40 etiquette 14, 119 Post Office (Cairo) 74
Maritim Jolie Ville King Island 129 Ibn Tulun (Cairo) 45, 84 Railway (Cairo) 74

Index
Marsam Hotel (Luxor) 130 Islamic architecture 44–5 Solar Boat (Giza) 13
mashrabiya 44 Mohammed Ali (Cairo) 86 Textiles (Cairo) 74
Mashrabiya Gallery (Cairo) 75 Mosque, Madrassa and Umm Kulsum (Cairo) 74
Mastaba of Ti (Saqqara) 94 Mausoleum of Al-Ghouri music
mausoleums 45 (Cairo) 87 Arabic 66, 75, 76
Aga Khan (Aswan) 112 Sayyidna al-Hussein (Cairo) Egyptian Playlist 67
Sultan Qalaoun (Cairo) 45, 85, 15 rock, pop and jazz 67
87 Suleyman Pasha (Cairo) 45, 86 Mut 17
Mayfair 127 Sultan al-Nasir (Cairo) 86 mythology 37
medical services 121 Sultan Hassan (Cairo) 45, 85
Medinat Habu (Luxor) 38, 100 Sultan Qaitbey (Cairo) 45 N
Meidum 13 mosquitoes 121 Naguib Mahfouz Café (Cairo)
Memphis 82, 91 Moulid of Abu al-Haggag 85, 89
Mena House Oberoi (Giza) 52, (Luxor) 63 Nakht, Tomb of (Luxor) 103
125 Moulid of Al-Hussein 63 Napoleon Bonaparte 42, 72
Menes see Narmer Mövenpick Resort Aswan 131 Narmer 10, 35, 91
Menkaure Pyramid (Giza) 13 Mubarak, Hosni 43 Narmer Palette (Egyptian
Menna, Tomb (Luxor) 103 muezzins 77 Museum) 10
Mercure Forsan Island mummies 9, 36, 102 Nasser, Gamal Abdel 43, 64–5
(Ismailia) 128 Mummification Museum National Circus (Cairo) 57
Mereruka, Tomb (Saqqara) 94 (Luxor) 47, 99, 101 National Museum, Alexandria
Merneptah museums 46–7 95
Temple (Luxor) 104 Abdeen Palace (Cairo) 74 Nectanebo 28
Tomb 25 Agricultural (Cairo) 74 Nefertari, Tomb (Luxor) 104
Metropole (Alexandria) 53, 128 Alexandria National 47, 95 Nefertari Hotel (Abu Simbel)
Midan Al-Hussein (Cairo) 15 Antiquities (Alexandria) 95 131
Midan Ramla (Alexandria) 95 Aswan 111, 112 Nefertiti, Queen 9, 10
Midan Tahrir (Cairo) 71, 73 Carriage (Cairo) 86 Nefertiti Hotel (Luxor) 130
Midan Talaat Harb (Cairo) 73 Cavafy (Alexandria) 95 New Cataract Hotel (Aswan)
Middle Kingdom 11, 34 Citadel Prison (Cairo) 86 131
mihrab 15, 45 Coptic (Cairo) 46, 84 New Gurna 104
Military Museum (Cairo) 86 Egyptian (Cairo) 6, 8-11, 46, New Kingdom 9, 34
Military Museum (Port Said) 93 56, 71 New Pola Hotel (Luxor) 130
minarets 15, 44 Ethnological (Cairo) 74 Nile
mobile phones 118 Gayer-Anderson (Cairo) 45, 46 in Cairo 73
Modern Egyptian Art, Museum Graeco-Roman (Alexandria) cruising 7, 26-7
of (Cairo) 71, 75 47, 95 Delta 90
Mohammed Ali 43, 86 Grand Egyptian (Giza) 9, 11 Nile Hotel (Aswan) 132
Mokhtar, Mahmoud 64, 74 Imhotep (Saqqara) 47, 94 Nilometer (Aswan) 112
monasteries Islamic Art (Cairo) 45, 46, 74 Nilometer (Cairo) 88
St Simeon (Aswan) 112 Islamic Ceramics (Cairo) 74 Nofret 10
Wadi Natrun 92 Ismailia 92 Nomad (Cairo) 76
Montu 17 Jewellery (Alexandria) 95 Noorhan (Aswan) 132
Montuhotep II 35 Luxor 99, 101, 102 Northern Cemetery (Cairo) 45,
Temple (Luxor) 23 Mahmoud Khalil (Cairo) 72 85
mortuary temples 36 Mahmoud Mokhtar (Cairo) 74 Northern Walls (Cairo) 85, 87
mosques Manuscripts (Alexandria) 95 Nuba Nile Hotel (Aswan) 132
Abu al-Haggag (Luxor) 21 Military (Port Said) 93 Nubia Museum (Aswan) 47,
Al-Aqmar (Cairo) 85, 87 Modern Egyptian Art (Cairo) 109
Al-Azhar (Cairo) 6, 14–15, 45, 71, 75 Nubian House (Aswan) 112
85 Mummification (Luxor) 47, 99, Nubian Oasis Hotel (Aswan)
Al-Hakim (Cairo) 85, 87 101 132
Amr (Cairo) 44, 84 Nubia (Aswan) 47, 109 Nut 37

137
O The Prophet’s Birthday 63 Revolt (1882) 43
Oasis Hotel (Cairo) 126 Ptolemy 35, 93 Revolution (1952) 43
obelisks 18, 19, 20, 110 public toilets 118 Rifai (Cairo) 89
Odeon Palace Hotel (Cairo) 127 Pylons 17, 18, 20 Roman paintings 11, 21
Old Cataract Hotel (Aswan) 27, Pyramids Roman Towers (Cairo) 88
53, 61, 111, 112, 131 Abu Sir 92 Rosetta Stone 40, 41
Index

Old City, The 82–9 Bent (Dashur) 13, 91) Royal Jewellery Museum
Old Kingdom 8, 34 Giza 6, 12-13, 57, 73 (Alexandria) 95
Old Winter Palace (Luxor) 53, international 65 rugs 54–5
61, 101, 106, 129 Meidum 13 rulers 43
Open-Air Museum (Karnak) 17 Red (Dashur) 13, 91
opening hours 118, 122 Step (Saqqara) 13, 91, 94 S
Opet Festival (Luxor) 21 Teti (Saqqara) 94 sabil-kuttab 45
Orchida St George Hotel, Unas (Saqqara) 94 Abdel Rahman Katkhuda
Aswan 131 Pyramisa Isis (Luxor) 129 (Cairo) 45, 85, 87
Osiris 29 Pyramisa Suites Hotel (Cairo) 126 Sacred Lake (Karnak) 17
Osiris, Hotel (Cairo) 29, 127 Sadat, Anwar 43
Osmanly at the Kempinski Nile Q safety 120, 121
Hotel (Cairo) 60, 79 Qalaoun, Sultan 45, 85, 87 Sahure, Pyramid of (Abu Sir) 92
Ottoman Turks 42 Qasr Ibrim (Lake Nasser) 113 St Joseph Hotel (Luxor) 130
Oum el-Dounia (Cairo) 76 Salah ad-Din (Saladin) 43
outdoor activities 105 R Saqqara 13, 91, 94
Ra 37 Sara Hotel (Aswan) 132
P Ra-Harakhty 30, 113 Sarenput, Prince, Tomb of
palaces 17, 18, 20 rabies 121 (Aswan) 110
papyrus 54 Rahotep, Prince 10 scorpions 121
parks and gardens rail travel 117 seaplane flights 105
Al-Azhar Park (Cairo) 56, 83 Railway Museum (Cairo) 74 Sehel Island (Aswan) 112
Botanical Garden (Karnak) 19 Ramadan 62 Semiramis InterContinental
Fish Gardens (Cairo) 56 Ramesseum (Luxor) 38, 100 125
see also theme parks Ramose, Tomb (Luxor) 103 Sennefer, Tomb of (Luxor) 103
Pension Roma (Cairo) 127 Ramses I, Tomb 25 Serapeum (Saqqarra) 8, 94
perfume 54 Ramses II 20, 31, 35 Seth 37
Persian Tombs (Saqqara) 94 Colossi 18, 30, 91 Seti Abu Simbel 131
Pharaoh’s Rally 62 Mummy 9 Seti I
Pharaonic memorabilia 55 Ramesseum (Luxor) 38, 100 Mummy 9
pharmacies 121 Ramses III 38, 100 Temples 38, 104, 107
Philae, Temple of (Aswan) 7, Temple (Karnak) 18 Tomb 25
28–9, 39, 110 Tomb 25 Seti II 18
Philae Hotel (Aswan) 132 Ramses IV, Tomb 25 Sharia Al-Qalaa (Cairo) 76
Phillipe Hotel (Luxor) 130 Ramses VI, Tomb 25 Sharif, Omar 65
photography 119 Ramses Pillars (Abu Simbel) 31 sheesha, smoking 77
planning your trip 116 Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Sheherazade, Hotel (Luxor) 130
plumbing 120 Centre (Giza) 55 Shepheard’s Hotel (Cairo) 52
police 121 Rasuul, Ahmed Abdel 40 Sheraton Luxor Resort 129
Police Museum (Cairo) 86 Red Pyramid (Dashur) 91 shipping services 118
Pompey’s Pillar (Alexandria) 95 Rekhmire, Tomb of (Luxor) 103 ships, cruise 133
Port Said 92 reliefs shopping 54–5, 118, 122
day tour 93 Hypostyle Hall, (Abu Simbel) Central Cairo 76
hotels 128 31 Shrine of Seti II (Karnak) 18
Post Office Museum (Cairo) 74 Punt Expedition (Temple of Silsilah 107
postal services 118 Hatshepsut) 23 Simonds (Cairo) 78
Poste, Hotel de la (Port Said) 128 religious life 36 smoking 77, 119
Precinct of Amun (Karnak) 16 rerouting, hotel 124 snakes 121
Precinct of Montu (Karnak) 17 reservations, hotel 124 Sneferu 91
President Hotel (Cairo) 126 Resta (Port Said) 128 Sobek 102, 107
prices 122, 124 restaurants 60–1, 122 Sofitel al-Gezira (Cairo) 125
priests, temple 19 Cairo 79, 89 Sofitel Karnak (Luxor) 129

138
Sofra (Luxor) 106 temples (cont.) Tutankhamun (cont.)
Solar Boat Museum (Giza) 13 Isis (Philae) 28 Lion Throne 11
Sonesta St George (Luxor) 129 Kalabsha (Lake Nasser) 113 Tomb 24, 41
Souk (Aswan) 55, 109, 111 Karnak 6, 16-19, 39 Treasure (Luxor Museum) 102
Sound of Cairo 76 Khnum (Elephantine Island) Tutankhamun (restaurant)

Index
Sound and Light Shows 67 109 (Luxor) 106
Abu Simbel 31 Khnum (Esna) 107 Tuthmosis III 17, 24, 35
Edfu 38 Khonsu (Karnak) 17
Giza 13 Luxor 6, 20-1, 39 U
Karnak 17 Medinat Habu (Luxor) 38 Umm Kulsum 64, 67
Philae 29 Merneptah (Luxor) 104 Museum (Cairo) 74
souvenirs 54–5 Montuhotep 23 Unas, Pyramid (Saqqara) 94
sphinxes Philae (Aswan) 7, 28-9, 39 UNESCO 31
Karnak 16 Ramesseum (Luxor) 38, 100 Unfinished Obelisk (Aswan) 110
Luxor Temple 20, 101 Ramses III (Karnak) 18) Union Hotel (Alexandria) 53, 128
The Sphinx (Giza) 12, 41 Seti I (Abydos) 38, 107 Userhat, Tomb of (Luxor) 103
spices 55 Sun (Abu Simbel) 31
sports 66, 105 Wadi al-Sebua (Lake Nasser) V
steamers 27 113 vaccinations 121
Steigenberger Nile Palace Luxor Tentmakers’ Souq (Cairo) 55 Valley of the Kings (Luxor) 7,
129 The Terraces (Citadel, Cairo) 86 24–5, 100
Step Pyramid (Saqqara) 13, 91, 94 terrorism 121 Valley of the Queens (Luxor) 104
stomach upsets 121 Teti, Pyramid of (Saqqara) 94 Valley Temple (Giza) 13
streetfood 78, 122 Textile Museum (Cairo) 74 vegetarians 122
Suez Canal 43, 92, 93 Thebes see Luxor Victoria Hotel (Cairo) 126
Suez Canal Authority Building theme parks 57 Villa Belle Epoque (Cairo) 125
(Port Said) 93 Thomas Cook & Son 27 visas 116
Suleyman the Great 43 Thoth 37
Sun Festival of Ramses II (Abu Thutmose Gallery (Tell W
Simbel) 31, 62 al-Amarna) 40–1 Wadi al-Sebua (Lake Nasser) 113
Sun Temple (Abu Simbel) 31 Thuya 11 Wadi Halfa (Sudan) 113
sunbathing 105 Tomb 11, 40 Wadi Natrun 92
swimming 105 time zone 116 walking tours see itineraries
tipping 119, 122, 124 The Walls (Citadel, Cairo) 86
T toilets 118, 120 water, drinking 120
Taboula (Cairo) 79 tombs websites 116
Talatat Wall (Luxor Museum) 102 Mastaba of Ti (Saqqara) 94 Western Desert 107
Talisman (Cairo) 126 paintings 36–7 what to buy 122
taxes 122 Persian (Saqqara) 94 what to take 116
taxis 117 Tombs of the Nobles (Aswan) when to go 116
tea, offers of 122 110 Whirling Dervishes 15, 67, 77
telephone services 118 Tombs of the Nobles (Luxor) White & Blue (Alexandria) 61
Tell al-Amarna 40, 107 101, 103 wikala 44
temples 19, 36, 38–9 Valley of the Kings (Luxor) 24–5 Al-Ghouri (Cairo) 15, 45, 67, 77
Abu Simbel 7, 30-1, 39 Valley of the Queens (Luxor) Windsor Hotel (Cairo) 52, 127
Amada (Lake Nasser) 113 104 Windsor Hotel (Luxor) 130
Amun (Karnak) 16, 18-19 see also catacombs; Windsor Palace (Alexandria) 53,
Aten (Karnak) 102 cemeteries; mausoleums; 128
crocodile (Kom Aushim) 91 pyramids women travellers 119
Dendara 39 tourist offices 116 woodwork, Islamic 45
Great Festival (Karnak) 18–19 tourist police 121
Hathor (Abu Simbel) 31 touts, hotel 124 Y
Hathor (Dendara) 39, 107 Townhouse Gallery (Cairo) 75 Yacoubian Building (Cairo) 49, 73
Hathor (Philae) 29 Trajan, Emperor 29 Yuya, Tomb 11, 40
Hatshepsut (Luxor) 7, 22–3, transport 117
39, 100 Tutankhamun 9, 102 Z
Horus (Edfu) 38, 107 Death Mask 11 Zamalek (Cairo) 55, 72
Horus and Sobek 107 Galleries (Egyptian Museum) 9

139
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