Egypt: where to go and what to see

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The Independent Culture
*** spectacular ** very interesting * interesting

1 TANIS** Constructed as a new capital city for Egypt in the 11th century BC, it still boasts impressive ruins.

CAIRO*** See the world's greatest Egyptology collection in the Egyptian Museum.

2 GIZA*** Three great pyramids, including the largest in Egypt, built in c 2540BC. See also the sphinx, the painted tombs and the solar boat museum (housing the world's oldest ship - a 143-ft-long wooden vessel).

3 ABUSIR** Three remote 25th-century BC pyramids in the middle of the desert.

4 MEMPHIS* Egypt's ancient capital. Not much to see except some impressive statues and the ruined temple of Ptah.

5 SAQQARA*** One of the greatest sites in Egypt. See the Step Pyramid complex (2700BC), then enter the pyramids of Unas and Teti, admire the bas-reliefs in the nobles' tombs and visit the subterranean bull cemetery of the Serapeum.

6 MEIDUM** An impressive pyramid built c 2570 BC.

7 BENI HASSAN** Thirty- nine tombs (five of them painted), constructed for the governors of the local county.

8 SPEOS ARTEMIDOS* Small rock-cut temple with fine reliefs. Very difficult access.

9 ANTINOPOLIS* The ruins include the scanty remains of a city founded by the Roman emperor Hadrian in memory of his deified boyfriend Antinous, who drowned in the Nile.

10 EL ASHMUNEIN See the remains of the ancient city of Hermopolis*, sacred to the baboon god, whose statues still survive on site. Visit also the tombs and temples of Tuna el Gebel**.

11 AMARNA** Egypt's 14th- century BC solar capital created by the monotheist pharoah Akhenaten. Most impressive are the tombs.

12 ABYDOS*** Beautiful temples and painted reliefs depicting religious rituals, hunting and battle scenes.

13 DENDERA*** This beautiful second-century BC / first- century AD temple includes a bas-relief of the ill-fated Cleopatra and Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar.

14 LUXOR / KARNAK*** The greatest collection of temples in the ancient world. These sites formed part of Egypt's religious capital, Thebes. See also the Luxor Museum.

15 THEBES' WEST BANK*** A vast concentration of temples, painted tombs, massive statues and even the ruins of the village (Deir el Medina) once inhabited by a group of construction workers who went on strike in the 12th century BC. Visit the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Tombs of the Nobles, the Ramesseum temple, with its great battle scene reliefs, the huge funerary temples of Deir el Bahri and Medinet Habu, and the 60ft-high statues of the pharoah Amenhotep III which, in ancient times, emitted strange harp-like sounds at sunrise and sunset (caused by air passing through parts of the statues).

16 DAHKLA* Beautiful oasis temple.

17 ESNA** Small temple dedicated to the creator god.

18 EL KAB** Remains of the great walled city of the vulture goddess. See also the temple and impressive tombs nearby.

19 EDFU*** Huge second-first century BC temple dedicated to Horus, son of the goddess Isis.

20 SILSILEH** The quarries of the pharoahs - plus some tiny shrines. Very difficult access.

21 KOM-OMBO** See the mummified sacred crocodiles inside the temple complex.

22 ASWAN** On the Nile

island of Elephantine visit a mass of ruins, including the Nilometer (a stairway to measure the annual rise and fall of the Nile) and remains contemporary with a sixth-century BC Jewish temple. Some scholars believe the Biblical Ark of the Covenant (the subject of the film Raiders Of The Lost Ark) was kept here for a time after being removed from Jerusalem. See also the ancient quarries and the nobles' tombs.

23 PHILAE*** A fourth century BC / second century AD island temple which became a church in the sixth century AD. When Aswan's Great High Dam was built, the temple was moved to another island.

24 KALABSHA TEMPLE** A symbol of power - and respect for Egyptian religion - built by the first Roman emperor Augustus after he had defeated Cleopatra and Mark Antony.

25 ABU SIMBEL*** Massive, rock-cut temple fronted by four 65ft-high statues, built in the 13th century BC. The whole complex was relocated in the late 1960s to its present position after the building of the Great High Dam at a cost of pounds 17m.

FURTHER INFORMATION available from the Egypt Exploration Society, 3 Doughty Mews, London WC1N 2PG (071-242 1880). DK

READING LIST: Discovery Guide To Egypt, Michael Haag (Haag pounds 12.95); Egypt: The Rough Guide (Penguin pounds 9.99); Egypt: The Blue Guide (Black pounds 14.95); Egypt: A Traveller's Anthology, Christopher Pick (John Murray pounds 11.95); Exploring The World Of The Pharaohs, Christine Hobson (Thames and Hudson pounds 9.95); Gods And Symbols Of Ancient Egypt, Manfred Lurker (Thames and Hudson pounds 7.95); Ancient Egypt - Anatomy Of A Civilisation, B Kemp, (Routledge pounds 12.99); Atlas Of Ancient Egypt, J Baines and J Malek (Facts on File pounds 21.95); Voices From Ancient Egypt - An Anthology Of Middle Kingdom Writings, R Parkinson (British Museum Press pounds 9.95).

These books are available from good bookshops, and mail order from Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High St, London W1M 3DE (071-224 2295).