Egypt is most often associated with the Egyptian Civilization which thrived from about 3000 BC to 100 BC. Thankfully, there are many reminders of this era still available to the traveler. Along the Nile River, the longest in the world, there are many ancient sites with well-preserved or restored ruins of this glorious period. Besides these ancient relics, there are also many modern wonders since Egypt is, still today, a major player on the global scene. My list of Egypt’s seven man-made wonders is found below. Look for the photo album which will follow directly.
1. Great Pyramids of Giza, just south of Cairo. The only one of the original, ancient Seven Wonders of the World which still stands, the Great Pyramid (Khufu’s burial chamber) was constructed in 2560 BC and was the tallest building in the world for 3,800 years. It is joined on this plane by two other pyramids and the Sphinx, a half-lion, half-man who was probably built to guard the burial chambers.
2. Karnak Temple & Luxor Temple, Luxor. This huge complex of ancient temples is located on the Nile River in Luxor, which was once the ancient city of Thebes. Many Pharoahs contributed structures to the complex, which was begun in the 16th century BC. The main part of the complex is the Precinct of Amun-Re and it is the only section which can be visited today.
The dramatic entrance through the First Pylon of the Temple of Luxor is flanked by two large statues of a sitting Ramses II. The large obelisk in view has a twin in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The Colonnade and the Peristyle courtyards are other interesting areas.
3. Great Temple of Abu Simbel. There are actually two temples here, both carved out of the rock. Both were constructed by Rameses II, in the 13th century BC, the larger one for himself and the other one for his consort, Queen Nefertari. The larger temple has a facade consisting of four, colossal statues of the Pharoah, over 60 feet tall.
4. Valley of the Kings, Luxor. This giant necropolis was the place that Egyptian pharoahs were buried for nearly five (5) centuries, beiginning in the 16th century BC. The most famous tomb is that of Tutankhamen, or King Tut as he is sometimes known. There are at least 63 tombs in the valley, some of which are open to tourists.
5. The Citadel, Cairo. This area near the center of Cairo was fortified by Saladin in the 12th century AD in expectation of the Crusades. There are three (3) mosques and several other buildings in the complex which presides over the city below.
6. New Library, Alexandria. The ancient library of Alexandria was the world’s largest and most prestigious. No one is quite sure when and why it was destroyed, but, in 2003, the city of Alexandria completed construction of a new library (Bibliotheca Alexandrina), near the site of the old one. This new library, modernistic in its design, is a symbol of the investment being made here to restore the city as an academic and educational center.
7. Valley of the Queens, Luxor. This necropolis, near the Valley of the Kings (see above) was the burial place for the wives of the pharoahs for hundreds of years. There are probably over 70 tombs, the foremost being the tomb of Nefertari, wife of Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most prominent kings.
Other sites considered:
Temple of Isis, Agilika Island, Aswan
Temple of Horus, Edfu
Temple of Hathor, Abu Simbel
Step Pyramid, Saqqara
Tombs of the Nobles, Luxor
Khan al-Khalili Bazaar, Cairo
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Cairo