Colours of Egypt

Every country has it's own colour. I like to think the colour of Egypt is a bleached yellow complimented by a dusty grey-blue.

In a land scorched by the sun and where it is said even the Pyramids were conceptualised from the sun's triangular rays, it is illuminating to discover a flourishing country, rich in culture and diversity, energised by it's people and the waters of the Nile. To find hidden beneath the dusty surface, instead, a vibrant range of hues that indeed make up Egypt.

Egypt is a land that covers 2 continents. Divided by the Suez Canal are the African and Asian Continents. The Nile is the only river in the world that flows from south to north, thus, defining lower Egypt in the north and upper Egypt at the south.

We flew into Cairo establishing the city as a base for the rest of our travels. The Pyramids of Dahshur, Saqqara and Giza as well as the ancient city of Memphis are all relatively close by. Also situated within the areas of Cairo are the Egyptian Museum, the Hanging Church in old Cairo, the Coptic Christians sector, the Mosque of an-Nasr Mohammed and Mohammed Ali Mosque in Islamic Cairo and the famous Khan al-Khalili Bazaar.

Our route took us overland via a sleeper train up (or down) to Aswan, one of the most beautiful stretches of the Nile, where the desert comes down to meet the river and the band of green. The annual flooding of the Nile has been dampened by two dams, the old Aswan Low Dam, built by the British and the Aswan High Dam, build by the Russians.

A short boat ride took us to the temple island of Philae, the sinking island that was "rescued" after the 1st dam was built. Philae houses the Temples of Isis and Hathor and was was held in high reverence, thought to be the burial place of Osiris.

From Aswan, we flew to one of the most spectacular temples in Egypt, Abu Simbel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also saved from the reaches of the dam and the rising Lake Nasser reservoir. Abu Simbel is dedicated to the gods Amun Ra, Ra Harakhti, and Ptah, as well as to the deified Ramesses II, popularly identified to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

We took 3 day Nile river cruise from Aswan to Luxor, stopping at various temples and sights along the way. The temple of Kom Ombo, between Edfu and Aswan, is an unusual temple in that it is dedicated to two Gods, Haroeris and Sobek. The temple of Edfu, dedicated to the falcon-headed God Horus, is the most completely preserved and second largest after Karnak.

At Luxor, we visited Colossi of Memnon, the Valley of the Kings, The Temple of Deir El-Bahri built for Queen Hatshepsut, Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple and Avenue of Sphinxes that once connected Karnak to Luxor Temple.

From Luxor, we flew back to Cairo and from there drove on to Alexandria where one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The world's first lighthouse, Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood.

Back in Cairo, we drove though the dessert of Sinai to reach our destination, Mt Sinai and St. Catherine's Monastery reputed to house the Burning Bush.

We ended our journey in Sharm el-Sheikh, busking under the yellow sun and bathing in the Red Sea.

Top Tip: Most of our expenses went towards tips, so bring plenty of change.




Giza Pyramid Complex
The Giza Necropolis stands on the Giza Plateau, only a few kilometers south of Cairo. They were believed to be stairways to heaven, used by Pharoahs as launch pads to join the heavens as stars, a perfect destination for the soul of the dead king.

"From atop these pyramids, forty centuries look down upon you." – Napoleon Bonaparte to his soldiers before the Battle of Giza, 1798



Giza Pyramid Complex Map


The Great Pyramid of Giza
Or the Pyramid of Khufu, is the oldest and largest of the 3 pyramids and the only remaining monuments of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.








The Pyramid of Khafre
Khafre's Pyramid, is the second largest of the ancient Egyptian Pyramids of Giza. However Khafre wisely built it at a steeper angle and on higher ground, making it appear to be taller than the Great Pyramid of Khufu.










Great Sphinx of Giza
This half-human, half-lion is one of the largest single-stone statues on Earth














Dahshur
Snofru was thought to have built the 1st smooth sided Red Pyramid in Dahshur after the trial and error of the Bent Pyramid close by.



Our 1st glance!




Snofru's Red Pyramid






Inside the Red Pyramid








Snofru's Bent Pyramid in Dahshur


Step Pyramid of Djozer
The first Egyptian pyramid built of stone







During an excavation in 1924-26, a pedestal of a statue of Djoser (Zoser) was found.





Memphis
One of the greatest cities of the ancient world, Memphis was the capital city of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom.









Streets of Cairo
A land of 75 million people, 25 million in Cairo alone, do not expect to find solitude. Cairo's sights, scents and sounds assaults the senses, it is near impossible to move though the city without being beeped, yelled or enticed at.










































































































Coptic Cairo
Is the oldest part of Cairo, and predates what is now modern Cairo. It was a Christian stronghold and you can still see some of the churches, including The Hanging Church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is said to have rested under the palm trees when the family sought refuge in Egypt.






































Mosque of an-Nasr Mohammed
















Mohammed Ali Mosque, The Citadel
This Ottoman mosque is the largest to be built in the first half of the 19th century and overlooks Islamic Cairo.
































Khan al-Khalili Bazaar
An Aladdin's cave! Every turn, every street reveals treasures and delights! Returning me to the enthralment of a child.



Medieval Carved Stone Gate






























































We were a novelty amongst the locals, especially with the kids, all who once over the initial shyness all vied for our attention. And of course! Their picture taken!

















A few adults included too!

























Fishawi's
Cairo's oldest Coffee House and most atmostpheric

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Shisha at Fishawi's




This lady we met at Fishawi's had spent some time in Tokyo doing her masters




Little Fatimah on the left loved us so much she was willing to offer up her one sweet pear. Such a little sweetie.


Aswan
Aswan, southernmost of Egypt, is the most beautiful with the Nile wide, green and dotted with pretty islands. The desert hills flow down to the river...simply gorgeous.


Beautiful Aswan



On route to Aswan...








The Sahara Desert




View from the British Dam




Yes...the sun does get very hot!










Temple Island of Philae
Philae houses the Temples of Isis and Hathor and was was held in high reverence, thought to be the burial place of Osiris.



The goddess Hathor




A sacrifice...proof that the ancient Egyptians ate pork!




The Temple of Isis








The Small Temple of Hathor






Felucca Boats




















































A golden disk the size of a golf ball rises over Egypt everyday and sets as a magnificent red orb. It is no wonder the ancient Egyptians revered the sun god Ra and chiseled his image as a huge red sphere.






The Old Cataract Hotel
Where Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile" was filmed.










Abu Simbel, is one of the most spectacular temples in Egypt. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was saved from the rising Lake Nasser reservoir. Abu Simbel is dedicated to the gods Amun Ra, Ra Harakhti, and Ptah, as well as to the deified Ramesses II, popularly identified to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

It was one of the most spectacular sights I came across and rendered me speechless.



The Greater Temple






Four colossal 20 meter statues of the pharaoh with the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.








Ra Harakhti




Hieroglyphic name of Ramesses II in a Cartouche














Temple entrance




Rock cut sculptures of four seated figures: Ra Harakhti, the deified king Ramesses, and the gods Amun Ra and Ptah. The axis of the temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that twice a year, on October 20 and February 20, the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculpture on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the god connected with the Underworld, who always remained in the dark.




Baboons featured greeting the sun god Ra














The Smaller Temple












Our 3 day Nile river cruise



Aswan's beautiful banks












We found a croc on our bed















The temple of Kom Ombo
The temple is between Edfu and Aswan, and is an unusual temple in that it is dedicated to two Gods, Haroeris and Sobek.





Haroeris






Sobek









Inbetween cruisers









The temple of Edfu
Dedicated to the falcon-headed God Horus, it is the most completely preserved and second largest after Karnak.























The Scarab Beetle was associated with the sun god Ra




The replica barque of Horus in the Sanctuary




Khnum god of creation




Bast




A hippo!












Ankh, Symbol of Life












It's hard work in the hot sun during Ramadan




Outside the ancient temples, life goes on









Colossi of Memnon
Two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, they were once reputed to "sing".












The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. – Matthew 9:37


Valley of the Kings
A valley where kings and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom were buried. Discover more about each tomb from the on going Theban Mapping Project. The tombs we visited were spectacular and very hot. Photography was prohibited but they are very much worth the visit, including King Tut's tomb which is a separate entrance cost.















Tomb of Tutankhamun, the richest boy-king ever discovered.















The Temple of Deir El-Bahri
Built for Queen Hatshepsut, it is one of the most characteristic temples in the whole of Egypt, due to its design and decorations.
































Living with the dead and living on the dead. The tourism trade is a key industry. Everybody is trying to sell you something, may it be the ankh, the key of life, or the scarab beetle, which pushes the sun across the sky. The common phrase is "Ten dollar! Ten dollar!", then as you walk away, "5!, 4!, 3!....2!.....1!". This is when one should turn back and say, "Free?". By which you are then rewarded with a rather cheeky grin. :D














Karnak Temple
The largest ancient religious site in the world, it was dedicated to many gods.























Even the ancient Egyptians needed a calendar/organizer. A bit hard to update don't you think!? :)












Our guide showed us where colour was once taken from, nodes embedded into the sandstone, each a warm hue different to the last.


Luxor Temple and Avenue of Sphinxes
The Sphinxes once connected the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.





The broken body of Rameses II














The Abu'l Haggag Mosque, built in the 18th century, using the buried walls of the Temple of Luxor as its foundation.








Court of Amenhotep III with papyrus bud columns.






No prizes guessing which god this is....ahem...









Avenue-of-sphinxes-luxor.html">Avenue of Sphinxes







On the Road
We drove for miles and miles to get to Alexander and through the desert of Sinai to Mt Sinai and Sharm el-Sheikh. I loved it though, and osculated between taking photos and sleeping. :)

They had some rather quirky billboards!






























Alexandria
Alexandria, the Pearl of the Mediterranean, the city of Alexander the Great himself, once used to house Pharos, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. To me, the atmosphere calls to mind the ease and fun of any other beach front city. Same same, but different.



Alexander the Great
6 "After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. – Daniel 7:6




Library of Alexandria


























The Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood here. Plans are underway to rebuilt it.



















































Desert of Sinai
We entered the continent of Asia under the Suez canal and finally arrived where I most wanted to go, Sinai's wilderness. Turns out it is a lot more developed than I had imagined, especially the coastal areas, where holiday resorts are popping out, quite literally, out of nowhere.

Driving for 8 hours, however, I did glimpse the surprisingly varied landscape of Sinai's wilderness. One day, I would love to take a trip into the heart of Sinai itself...preferably on the back of a camel. :)









There are several different types of date, each with a different taste and texture











Camel!




Camel!




Camel's Humps!! Hahaha!








Weeeee!!!




I love camels!




Did I mention I love camels?




Soo cute!











Mount Sinai
The mountain of God



1.30am climbing Mt Sinai












Awaiting the sunrise at the top of Mt Sinai










Here it comes!!









































Saint Catherine's Monastery
Our first glance...











The Burning Bush




















Our tire burst...




They stopped to help. :)


Sharm el-Sheikh
The end of our road...and a mighty good way too!










Epilogue: Egypt truly offered a spectrum of experiences. She gave us the unexpected, the intimate and the splendor. Our journey may have covered most of her lands, yet, have barely uncovered her enigma. That might remain for centuries, buried beneath her shifting sands.

4 comments:

Lars said...

I have to give it to you, some really nice pics you got there. A lot of it is quite standard, of course, but I really liked your downtown pictures.

You manage to capture some of the things I love about this area of Cairo, and that only in a few days. Impressive.

Best, "musafirun" on Thorn Tree

Tony Hart said...

The place looks truly amazing. You've taken some beautiful photos as well. I am that much more excited to visit.

Anonymous said...

led here from yr facebook link...

Such unbelievably stunning photos!! WOW! I now want to return to Egypt! :)

k

Gökerismos said...

Nice blog entry about Egypt. This is my next destination so it's cool to have sort of photographic introduction of this caliber.