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The Ancient Wonders of Cairo

In the fifth century BC Herodotus wrote of Egypt that "nowhere are there so many marvellous things.nor in the world besides are to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness". The Sphinx, the Nile, ancient Luxor, the pyramids - Egypt's scope is glorious. Cairo Cairo, Egypt's capital city, offers an effortless combination of ancient and modern locations, monuments and atmosphere.

Cairo is considered to be the heart of Egypt, and one may find almost every aspect of Egypt represented in the area, including some of the most famous Pharaonic, ancient Christian and Islamic monuments. The three major attractions are the Egyptian Museum, the Great Pyramids and the majestic Sphinx. The Egyptian Museum The Egyptian Museum houses the greatest collection of Egyptian artefacts in the world and the most sought after are the treasures from Tutankhamen's tomb. The great pharaoh's tomb contained four gilded shrines nested one inside the other and all four are on display in this museum.

The shrines are lined up in order of size and the innermost shrine covers the mighty pharaoh's sarcophagus. Inside the stone sarcophagus were three coffins - the innermost being made of 110 kilograms of solid gold - this is where the pharaoh wearing his famous gold mask lies. Apart from the world renowned Tutankhamun exhibits there are countless coffins, amulets, ushabtis and household items from Ancient Egypt. The Mummy Room is another of the museums highlights; this is where you can c ome face to face with some of the great rulers of ancient Egypt. The Great Pyramids of Egypt When we think of Egypt we think of the pyramids.

One of the greatest architectural wonders in history; the pyramids represent life, death, struggle and celebration. Shrouded in an air of mystery the pyramids have held mans fascination since the time of their inception. Today many thousands of tourists travel to Egypt each year to behold these magnificent relics of one of the most celebrated and fascinating ancient civilizations in the history of mankind. The ancient Egyptians built pyramids as tombs for the pharaohs and their queens.

There are over 100 pyramids in Egypt, most of which are grouped around and near the city of Cairo. The three pyramids of Giza, just outside Cairo, consist of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Kafhre and the Pyramid of Menkaura. Each Pyramid is a tomb to a different King of Egypt and all three were built during the Third and Fourth Dynasty. The Pyramid of Khufu, now known as the Great Pyramid, has a base which covers roughly a nine acre area (roughly 392,040 square feet) and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramid of Menkaura, unlike the other pyramids, had one tier of its base covered in granite and the pyramid of Khafre had a two tier base encased in granite. Many theories surrounding the origins of these astounding structures have been proposed by scientist, Egyptologists and conspiracy theorists alike.

Some think they were built as astronomic observatories, places of cult worship and even that they were build by extra terrestrials. The bulk of scientific and historic research supports the fact that they were built for their magnificent Kings of Ancient Egypt as tombs from which they could begin their mystic journey to the afterlife. The pyramids of Egypt are a truly magnificent sight to behold and a guided tour by an Egyptology expert will enable you to truly appreciate the hard work that went into building them.

These huge structures are worth far more than the treasures hidden inside; they are a gift from an ancient civilization which has continued to give for thousands of years. The Sphinx The Sphinx, known as the Abu al-Hol (Father of Terror), stands in front of the Great Pyramid and is thought to be older than the pyramids themselves. No matter how many times you have seen pictures of the Sphinx nothing will prepare you for the sheer size and beauty of this desert creature. The body of a lion with the head of a king or god, the sphinx has come to symbolize strength and wisdom. The creature spent a long time under the shifting desert sands, in 1905 the sand was cleared away to expose the magnitude and beauty of the entirety of the Sphinx.

Due to the harsh forces of nature, erosion has taken its toll on the structure yet standing in its presence you will simply feel the mysterious beauty of its heyday. There are many legends, mysteries and conspiracy theories surrounding the Sphinx. It is said that in between the paws of the Sphinx is a stela, now called the "Dream Stela", which is inscribed with a story. The 18th Dynasty story tells of the time that Thutmosis IV fell asleep under the Sphinx which was covered to the neck in sand. Thutmosis had a dream that the Sphinx spoke to him and promised that if he would free the Sphinx from the sand, Thutmosis would be destined to become king of Egypt. Many believe that under the creature lies a chamber which contains the documentation which will reveal all of mankind's mysteries.

The Egyptian government has refused access to these underground chambers which has promoted the theory rather than quell it. The Sphinx's head is a mystery in its own rite, it has even been theorised that the head is not the original one first craved onto the body. The Sphinx has captured the interest of poets, scholars, adventurers and tourists for centuries and has also inspired a wealth of speculation about its age, its meaning, and the secrets that it might hold.

The Sphinx seems to radiate something very mystical about it that tends to convey to the observer that there is something metaphysical or spiritual about it. Though these are undoubtedly Cairo's greatest tourist attractions they are not all that this mystic city has to offer. A city of culture, Cairo is home to several art galleries, museums and music hall, most notably the Cairo Opera House. There are several fantastic restaurants and luxury hotels. Whether you prefer to peruse the street markets or leisurely shop in the modern centres you will come across the most delightful finds.

Particularly good buys are spices, perfumes, gold, silver, carpets, brass, copperware, leatherwork, glass and ceramics. .

By: Sarah Manners



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