Home to the ancient Pharaohs and artifacts which are over 7,000 years old, Egypt is endowed with so much history and treasure that will fascinate anyone that travels to this great destination. Other than the pyramids of Giza, there are so many Egypt landmarks that have made Egypt a popular destination for history lovers.
From the famous tombs, countless temples, to the Giza pyramids, here is a detailed list of landmarks in Egypt that every traveler should visit on their trip to the land of the Pharaohs.
Famous landmarks in Egypt
1. Pyramids of Giza
The pyramids of Giza are undeniably the most famous landmarks in Egypt that are top on almost every traveler’s bucket list. Actually, when you mention Egypt, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is the pyramids of Giza.
Built over 4,500 years ago, the pyramids of Giza which feature The great pyramid of Giza also known as the pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure (which is the smallest of the three) are the only remaining wonder from the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The pyramids of Giza were constructed on directives of Pharaoh Khufu, Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure respectively in preparation for their next life as they believed that they would be gods in the afterlife.
Up to now the pyramids of Giza are still a wonder that amazes everyone on how the ancient men were able to put together an estimated 2.3 million stone blocks each weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tons – something that even today’s scientists haven’t been able to find out after countless researches.
The Giza pyramids are approximately 1 hour from Cairo city and it costs 160 EGP (Egyptian pounds) for adults and 80 EGP for students to enter the site. For an additional 360 EGP (180 EGP for students), you get to enter inside the great pyramid of Khufu, and 100 EGP to enter either the Pyramid of Khafre or the Pyramid of Menkaure.
2. The Great Sphinx of Giza
Just in front of the Giza pyramids lies the Sphinx of Giza. Straddling at 240 feet(73 meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high, the sphinx of Giza is not only one of the greatest and largest Egyptian monuments but also one of the largest in the world.
The sphinx is a mythological creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. In ancient Egypt, the sphinx was a spiritual guardian and it is believed that the great sphinx of Giza was constructed to guard the Pharaohs’ tombs.
Dating back in the 2603 BC, the sphinx was constructed by Pharaoh Khafre and it is also believed that the head and face of the sphinx resembles a life-size statue of Khafre which was found in the Valley Temple.
Since the sphinx is at the same place as the Giza pyramids, the entrance fee to the Giza pyramids gives you direct access to the great sphinx aswell.
3. Luxor Temple
Located on the banks of River Nile in the city of Luxor, Luxor Temple is one of the Egypt landmarks which was also the largest and most significant religious places in ancient Egypt.
The temple’s construction which was started by pharaoh Amenhotep III in 1390 BC and fully completed in 1279 BC by Rameses II is one one of the most preserved Egyptian monuments with large amounts of structure, statuary, and relief carvings still intact.
Luxor temple is just a few minutes walk from Luxor city center and it costs 140 EGP to enter the temple for adults and 70 EGP for children.
Check out some amazing tours in Luxor.
4. Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is one of the famous landmarks of Egypt and also an ancient complex temple comprising of two temples constructed during the reign of Ramesses II. The two massive rock temples serve as lasting monuments to the king and his queen. The bigger temple (which stands at 98 feet(30 meters) high and 115 feet (35 meters) long) represents King Ramesses and the smaller temple (which stands at 40 feet (12 meters) high and 92 feet (28 meters) long) represents his queen Nefertari.
The front entrance of the great temple is adorned with four seated colossi – 2 at each side showing Ramesses II on his throne. And what makes the temple more interesting are the engravings on the interior walls that depict Ramesses and Nefertari making sacrifices to the gods.
Abu Simbel is located on the western bank of Lake Nasser in a small village of Nubia about 230km southwest of Aswan. It costs 400 EGP to be granted access to both of the Abu Simbel temples.
5. Valley of the Kings
Located on the West bank of the River Nile opposite Luxor, the valley of kings is one of the landmarks of ancient Egypt and also one of the historical places in Egypt.
Also known as the Valley of Gates of Kings, ancient Egyptians excavated rock cuts tombs for Pharaohs and great nobles at a time – something that took almost 500 years to realize from the 16th to the 11th century BC. The valley consists of 2 valleys – the East valley which has the most number of royal tombs and the West valley which makes up the other tombs totaling up to 63.
During the period of 1539- 1075 BC, the valleys became a royal burial ground for the pharaohs and high priests. It is also important to know that most of the famous Egyptian pharaohs like Tutankhamen, Seti I, Ramesses II and others were buried here which has made the valley of kings one of the major tourist spots in Egypt for individuals who want to learn more about Ancient Egypt and its Pharaohs.
The entrance fee to the Valley of the Kings is 200EGP which includes access to 3 tombs from any of these; Ramses I, IV, VII, IX, Seti II, Tawsert/ Sethnakhte, Tuthmosis III, IV, Saptah, Horemoheb, and Menttuherkhopshef. Before you go, please note that only 18 out of the 63 tombs are open to the public and not all are open all the time and some of the treasures have been moved from the valley to the Egyptian museum. This is done by the authorities to reduce the damaging effect of mass tourism.
6. Egyptian Museum
Housing over 120,000 artifacts, (although not all of them are on display since they have to be kept in certain conditions not to be destroyed ) including but not limited to Mummies, Sarcophagi, jewelry, and Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s treasures, the Egyptian museum is one of the Egpyt landmarks that everyone should add to their bucket list.
Located in Tahrir square in the heart of Cairo city, the Egyptian Museum houses the Royal mummy room which showcases 11 mummies including the recently discovered one – that of Hatshepsut. The Museum also showcases thousands of sculptures that were recovered from Egypt’s famous archeological sites including the pyramids, temples, desert sands, and others.
The Egyptian museum also has an entire section dedicated to the boy king – Tutankhamen who is undeniably the most famous Pharaoh in Egypt including the Sarcophagus and golden death mask which are the most important items in the Museum.
The entrance fee to the Egyptian museum is 160EGP plus an extra 180EGP if you want to access the mummies room. But to get the most of your Museum tour, I’d recommend booking a tour guide who will explain in details all the artifacts in the museum.
7. Karnak Temple
Gradually built over centuries from the Middle Kingdom (20140- 1782 BCE) throughout the Ptolemaic Dynasty (323 – 30 BCE), Karnak (historically known as the Temple of Amun) is the largest religious building in the world covering over 200 acres of land making it one of the greatest landmarks of Egypt.
Karnak has a number of buildings but the Great Temple of Amun is the Temple’s main building with Karnak Open-Air Museum which is a collection of shrines lying directly north of the Temple of Amun’s Great court.
Some of the other sites to see in the Karnak temple complex include; Avenue of sphinxes, Kiosk of Sesostris which is one of the oldest structures in the temple complex, Temple of Ptah which was constructed by Tuthmosis III, Temple of Montu which is unfortunately so ruined that it’s hard to figure out the ground plan, Temple of Ramses II which is also badly ruined and a couple of other temples in the complex.
To get to the Karnak temple complex, you can walk from downtown Luxor along the Nile-side road or take a taxi. The entrance fee to the Karnak Temple is 150 EGP, an additional 80EGP if you want to access the Karnak open-air museum and 250EGP more to enjoy the Karnak Sound and Light show.
8. Monastery of St Catherine
Located in Qesm Sharm Ash Sheikh in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Monastery of St Catherine is believed to enshrine the burning bushes from which God first revealed himself to Moses. It is also believed to be the oldest Christian monastery in the world.
The monastery is surrounded by a huge wall which was constructed by Justinian in the 6th century as a way of protection from the Marauders since the location was rather too open.
Though the unburnt bush was transplanted a few meters away from its original location, it still lives on over a protective stone wall and being catered for by the monks from time to time.
Some of the places to see at the Monastery of St Catherine are;
- The Chapel of the burning bush which is the holiest part of the monastery though it is sometimes closed to the public and people who get a chance to enter are required to take off their shoes as Moses did.
- The well of Moses also known as the well of Jethro where Moses met his wife Zipporah which is up to now still the main source of water for the monastery.
9. Mt Sinai
Although there is some controversy about where the “true Mt Sinai” is located, most scholars believe that Mt Sinai is located in South Sinai in Egypt and not Saudi Arabia as some suggested.
Mt Sinai (also known as Mount Moses) is a 2,285 meter (7,497 ft) high mountain in the Sinai region nex to St Catherine monastery. Mt Sinai is a significant site and a place of pilgrimage to Christians as it is where Moses received the Ten commandments.
The summit of mt. Sinai has a mosque that is currently used by the Moslems and Greek Orthodox chapel which was constructed in 1934 on the ruins of the 16th-century church although it is not open to the general public.
A hike to the mount summit is doable with 2 possible routes; the longer and the shallower route taking about 2 and half hours on foot but camels can also be used.
10. Abydos Temple
Located in one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, Abydos (162 km north of Luxor), Abydos Temple (also known as the Temple of the first city) is considered one of the most archeological sites in Egypt. The sacred city of Abydos was a site of many ancient temples which later became the most important burial site for ancient Egypt.
One of the most fascinating temples in Abydos is the Temple of Osiris which showcases spectacular artistic treasures of ancient Egypt.
If you want to run away from the crowds but still experience one of Egypt’s historical places, then head to Abydos temple since it gets a few visitors compared to other nearby temples in Luxor.
To get to Abydos Temple, you can hire a private taxi from Luxor or join one of the popular tours. Entrance to Abydos Temple is 100EGP.
Though the Giza pyramids are the most common pyramids in Egypt, they are certainly not the only ones in the country. Located 30km south of Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of over 6km with a number of pyramids and tombs scattered around.
Saqqara features numerous pyramids including the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser,(also referred to as the step Tomb), the Bent Pyramids and the Red pyramids. Saqqara was also an important burial ground for ancient Egypt featuring various tombs of court administrators, nobles whose tombs can be traced at the northern side of the Saqqara plateau.
The Saqqara can be reached by taking a private taxi from Cairo city center and the entrance fee is 150EGP.
12. Temple of Kom Ombo
Built during the Graeco-Roman period of 180–47 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty, Kom Ombo is a double temple located in Aswan Governorate, Upper Egypt.
The temple, dedicated to Sobek the crocodile god in the southern half and Horus the falcon-headed god in the northern half, is a double temple with each side having its own entrance making the temple unique and worth a visit.
Since the temple is dedicated to two gods, everything in the temple is in twos; two identical entrances, two linked hypostyle halls, two courts, two sanctuaries, and two rooms for the two gods.
The best way to get to the Temple of Kom Ombo is by booking a day trip with a tour operator and if you book a Nile cruise, chances a high that a stop at the temple of Kom Ombo will be included in the itinerary. The entrance fee to the temple is 100EGP.
13. White Dessert
Located just a few hours away in the megalopolis city of Cairo in Western Egypt (in Farafra to be exact), this white desert is a natural wonder where chalk shaped mountains have been formed due to centuries of erosion and sandstorms.
The snow-white chalk rocks have been given names due to how they were formed with the most characteristic one being the “chicken and tree ” set. Other rocks that resemble food have been given names like “Icecream cone”, Mushroom and many others.
While a visit to the white desert can be treated as a day trip, most people opt for camping to be able to experience the awe moments at sunrise and sunset when the sun lights them up with the orangey-pink hues or under a full moon proving that the white desert is one of the ultimate picturesque Egypt landmarks.
14. Cairo Tower
Standing at 187 meters (614 ft) with 90 floors, Cairo tower is a free-standing concrete tower in Cairo city. It was the tallest structure in Africa for ten years until 1971 when it was surpassed by Hillbrow Tower in South Africa.
The Cairo tower is one of the most recognizable modern monuments in Cairo and hence becoming a popular tourist attraction in Egypt.
The tower offers 360 degrees views of the entire city of Cairo – it is actually the best spot for the best views in the entire city. The tower also has a 360 revolving restaurant at the top (for an amazing dining experience) whose full revolution takes 70 minutes for a single rotation.
Cairo tower can be reached by taking a taxi or even by walking if you want to explore the city more. Entrance to the tower is 60EGP.
15. Cairo Citadel
Built by Salah ad-Din and further developed by other subsequent leaders, the Citadel of Cairo also known as the Citadel of Saladin is a medieval Islamic-era fortification in Cairo that should not miss on the list of landmarks to visit in Egypt.
Dating back in the 12th century, the Citadel provides a glimpse into Islamic Cairo. It is also home to 4 museums and 3 mosques with the highlight being the Mosque of Muhammad Ali.
The mosque of Mohammad Ali is an architectural marvel that was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848 to rival the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. The mosque has a huge chandelier hanging from the domed ceiling – a feature that leaves visitors in awe.
The other mosque to visit at the Citadel is the Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala’un mosque which was originally built in the 14th century for Sultan al-Nasir for his daily prayers.
Just in front of the mosque, there is a grand terrace which offers panoramic views of Cairo city, the old Islamic Cairo which is just below the Citadel, the Nile and partial views of the Great Pyramid of Giza on very clear days.
The Citadel of Cairo can be accessed from Cairo downtown by taking a taxi and it costs only 140EGP to enter this amazing place.
In conclusion, there are so many landmarks in Egypt but these are some that you could visit. Have you been to any of them? Share with me your experiences below.
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