What do you think of when someone says Egypt? Obviously, the Pyramids will come to mind. Perhaps the Nile River, the longest in the world? Or how about the Pharaohs of Egypt, many whose tombs have been discovered and great riches unearthed. In a country with such a rich culture and history, a trip to Egypt is a no brainer. It has the power to astound, delight, and you’re sure to come back with some unforgettable memories.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at 7 of the most popular landmarks in Egypt. With our list, you’ll be able to plan a trip around Egypt, taking in the best that the country has to offer in terms of historic, religious, and natural attractions!
The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
So this is an obvious one, but we never said this was a list of hidden gems! No visit to Egypt is complete without seeing the Pyramids of Giza, the only wonder of the ancient world still standing today, and without any question, one of the most iconic and recognisable landmarks in the world. No one is really sure how the enormous stones were transported to construct such amazing structures, but The Great Pyramid is made up over 2 million stones which weighed between 2 and 50 tonnes!
To get up close to the Pyramids, you’ll have to make it past the Sphinx. This mammoth structure is a statue with the head of a human and the body of a lion. It was put in place to protect the Pyramids. We’re not sure what from, but since they’re still standing, the Sphinx has done a good job so far!
The Citadel of Cairo
A mainstay of Cairo since the 12th century, the Citadel was originally constructed as a fort against the Crusaders by Saladin. In continued to be the home of Egypt’s rulers for the following 7 centuries! During those 7 centuries, it expanded under the Ottomans and even hosted the French Emperor Napoleon when he unsuccessfully attempted to add Egypt to his empire.
Although there are a few Egyptian soldiers living in the citadel, it’s largely a place for tourism now. Explore the opulent mosques and palaces, while getting some sublime views of Cairo. On a clear day, you might even spot the Pyramids!
The Abu Simbel Temples
Sometimes it seems like you can’t move for temples in Egypt, but there are couple that stand out above the rest. One such temple is Abu Simbel, the temple dedicated to Ramses II. These rock temples are carved into the mountainside and guarded by three colossal statues of the Pharaoh himself. Inside, the temples are adorned with beautiful paintings.
Not a lot of people will realise that Abu Simbel is not actually in its original position. During the 1960s, the whole complex was moved by UNESCO so it wouldn’t be lost to flooding. The operation took 4 years!
Valley of the Kings
The city of Luxor in Egypt is one of the places you should definitely have on your itinerary if you’re interested in the history of Ancient Egypt. It has two of the country’s most popular landmarks, the first of those being the Valley of the Kings. More than 1,000 years before Jesus Christ was even thought of, this valley was where the great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were buried with their treasures to take on to the next life. It’s one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and it’s where Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered!
As well as Valley of the Kings, Luxor is the base if you want to visit the Karnak Temple. It’s one of the largest religious buildings ever constructed, and consists of temples, chapels, and a whole host of other buildings. Incredibly, the Great Temple at the heart of the complex could fit St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, and Notre Dame in Paris inside its walls!
It was constructed to honour the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, as well as the great glory of Pharaohs of the time. The closer you get to the centre, the older the buildings are in what was once the most important place of worship in Egypt.
The White Desert
North Africa is known for the red sands and gigantic dunes of the Sahara Desert. However, there’s a part of it in Western Egypt that looks like no other part of it, and quite possibly like nothing else on Earth! The White Desert looks like something that should feature in the next Star Wars or Indiana Jones movie. It’s the perfect spot for a natural Egyptian adventure.
If you feel like you’re getting temple fatigue from all the historic and religious sites, don’t feel too bad. It’s normal! Heading to the natural pinnacles, enormous boulders, and jaw-dropping moonscapes is the perfect alternative activity.
If you’re interested in stunning natural landscapes, religious history, or architecture, then you should have Mount Sinai right at the top of your Egypt itinerary. It’s said to be where Moses received the ten commandments! Religious or not, taking a hike up the mountain at either sunrise or sunset will reward you with some of the most stunning views on the whole continent. There are a couple of routes – if you’re a novice hiker try the Camel Path. More experienced? Take the scarily named Steps of Repentance! You might repent not taking this route, as it does offer the best views.
While you’re here, don’t miss one of the oldest monasteries in the world – St. Catherine’s. The on-site museum is home to religious iconography, manuscripts, and art.
So, now it’s time to pack your suitcase
Now that you’ve got more of an insight into the 7 most popular landmarks in Egypt, we imagine that you’ll be looking at planning your trip. If you don’t speak the local language or you think it might be overwhelming, why not consider seeing Egypt on an organised group tour? Young Pioneer Tours offer an Alternative Egypt Tour. You’ll see some of the places on this list, and a few more off the beaten track too!