Happy Holidays! This year I decided to stop in Egypt on my way back to the US for the holidays/work. I have always wanted to see the pyramids and I secretly (or not so secretly) wish I was Egyptian, so this was a trip I couldn’t resist! I started off my trip in Cairo to see the pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx and made my way south to see Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel to visit numerous temples and tombs covered in hieroglyphics and stories of the past. Egypt is a beautiful place with such a fascinating history and culture and I hope to visit again!
Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx
The pyramids at Giza are for the Kings Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Within each of the Pyramid complexes there was a Mortuary Temple, and up to three small Queen’s pyramids. Though it is difficult to tell in photographs Khufu’s pyramid is the tallest. His son, Khafre, was entombed in the second tallest pyramid and the grandson of Khufu, Menkaure, in the smallest pyramid. The Egyptians believed that the son(s) of the king should not surpass their father, which is why Khufu’s pyramid remained the largest. The Egyptians believed in the afterlife and thus the need to preserve the body after death through mummification. Along with the tomb and body of the King, inside the pyramids were goods, riches, and sometimes food that the King would need in the afterlife.
This is the first pyramid ever created. It was designed by the King’s architect, Imhotep, who was well respected. The pyramids at Giza were created afterwards and were updated to have flat sides instead of a stepped surface.
Luxor - Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings is an area on the West Bank of Luxor where many of the Kings of ancient Egypt were buried in tombs carved in the rocks. Above is Ramses III’s tomb as well as Tutankhamun’s tomb and mummy! Tutankhamun was 18 when he died, and his tomb was discovered almost fully intact by British Egyptologist, Howard Carter, in 1922. Tutankhamun’s innermost coffin seen above is solid gold and currently in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Colossi of Memnon
These two statues here known as the Colossi of Memnon represent Amenhotep III and are 60 feet in height. They are located on Luxor’s west bank and were built as the guardians of Amenhotep III’s mortuary complex, which was located behind the statues at one point in time.
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Queen Hatshepsut is the only known female ruler of ancient Egypt. She came into power initially as the regent for Thutmose III, who was quite young at the time, after the death of Thutmose II. Research has shown that she was well loved and ruled for about 20 years until her death, the cause of which is unknown.
Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Luxor’s West Bank
Luxor’s East Bank - Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple
Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Edfu is one of the most beautiful and well preserved temples in Egypt. It is also known as the Temple of Horus, who was the god of protection. Edfu is located next to the Nile river in between Luxor and Aswan.
Abu Simbel consists of two temples built by Ramses II- one in honor of his favorite wife, Nefertari. Abu Simbel is located in Nubia in southern Egypt close to Sudan. In the 1960s the temples were both salvaged from the rising waters of the Nile river and moved to their current location and reassembled - an amazing feat! The seated statues of Ramses II are 20 meters in height, and the temple was dedicated to the supreme god, Amun Ra, who was believed to be responsible for all life on earth. On two days out of the year - February 22 and October 22 - the full length of the temple is illuminated by the first light of the morning sun, including the shrine in the innermost sanctuary.