Pining for Pyramids
Of course, some of the sights that draw the most visitors to Cairo sit just outside the city. The three Pyramids of Giza are among the most famous structures on Earth. The Great Pyramid of Giza, also called the Pyramid of Khufu in honor of the pharaoh entombed within, is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one still intact today. At 481 feet, it held the record of world’s tallest manmade structure for over 3,800 years.
At the eastern end of the Giza pyramid complex sits another of Egypt’s famous monuments, the Great Sphinx. Egyptologists believe the head of the sphinx is modeled after Khufu’s son, Khafre, who was entombed in the second pyramid.
The Djoser step pyramid at Saqqara, the necropolis of ancient Memphis, actually predates its more famous cousins at Giza. Built in the 27th century BC, the tiered structure is one of the oldest stone buildings in the world.
Many Nile river cruises begin in Luxor, a city known in ancient times as Thebes, capital of Upper Egypt. Luxor boasts a dizzying array of ancient monuments. The most famous include Luxor Temple, built in part by famous pharaohs including Amenhotep III, Ramesses II, and Tutankhamun; and the enormous temple complex of Karnak, home to the Temple of Amun-Ra with its enormous papyrus-shaped columns.
Across the Nile lays the Valley of the Kings, where for 500 years pharaohs like King Tut had their mummified remains buried along with their most prized worldly possessions. Just south is the Valley of the Queens, resting place of Queen Nefertari, among many other wives and relations of pharaohs, both male and female.
Open the Gates
Egypt is a truly remarkable vacation destination unto itself, but it can also be the perfect starting point for an even grander journey. Sometimes called “the gateway to the Middle East,” Egypt’s proximity to sought-after destinations such as Israel, Dubai, and Petra, Jordan makes it the perfect place to begin the sun-soaked adventure of a lifetime.
Learn more about AmaWaterways’ Egypt river cruise and land journeys, beginning in 2021!