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Posted on Wednesday 21 November 2012 in Egypt
Egypt is a land of awe and mystery. The ancient relics and ruins found throughout the Nile Valley are among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and Australian tourists who want to discover the secrets of the ancient Egyptians should take flights to Cairo and explore the majesty of this historic country.
Tombs of the kings
For history buffs, Egypt is a veritable treasure trove of secrets. Some of the most ancient ruins in the world can be found in the arid deserts of Egypt, and tourists should plan their visit carefully to ensure they see everything this remarkable country has to offer.
The first place that Australian tourists should visit during their holiday in Egypt is Luxor. Known as the world's greatest open-air museum, the Egyptian ruins of Luxor are among the best preserved in the country. Characterized by its towering pillars, ornate sculptures and the cavernous tombs and temples of the West Bank Necropolis, Luxor offers tourists a glimpse at the former glory of the ancient Egyptian civilization.
It is here that Australian tourists can visit the Valley of the Kings. This remarkable network of tombs was constructed to house the remains of Egyptian pharaohs such as Amenhotep III, Ramesses II and Amun-Re. The Theban Necropolis is perhaps most famous as the burial site of legendary boy-king Tutankhamun, and today, work is still being done to restore these magnificent tombs. A new tourist centre was opened recently to house relics discovered in the Valley by archaeologists, providing visitors with a fascinating way to learn about the customs, rituals and spiritual beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.
Of course, no visit to Egypt is complete without a stop at the Pyramids of Giza. While there are more than 130 pyramids located throughout the country, the Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid, is the most famous. An architectural wonder, this mighty structure was built almost 5,000 years ago and remained the tallest structure in the world for more than two millennia.
Another iconic sight that Australian tourists will not want to miss is the Great Sphinx of Giza. Located a short distance from the Pyramid of Khufu, this limestone statue is one of the most recognizable landmarks on Earth. The Sphinx itself is a limestone sculpture of the mythological creature, a lion with the head of a human. It is also the largest monolith statue in the world, and was built around 2,500 BCE. This imposing statue once featured a complete nose and beard, but the ravages of time and the biting desert winds have long since worn these characteristics from the iconic statue's face.
Egypt's first city
While the historic tombs of Luxor are perhaps more famous than the city of Aswan, they are certainly no more important than Egypt's southernmost city. Located on the banks of the Nile, Aswan was the first major city to be built in Egypt, and the stone found here was used by masons to construct many of the country's temples, shrines and monoliths.
Today, Australian tourists can learn about the African cultural influences that can be seen everywhere in Aswan at the Nubian Museum. Thousands of artifacts are on display in this gigantic museum, including stoneware and pottery dating back nearly 3,000 years. The centrepieces of the collection include huge monuments that the Nubians erected to worship the gods, and these stunningly well-preserved monoliths offer visitors a fascinating insight into the region's culture. The museum itself is surrounded by the verdant greenery of the Natural Botanical Garden, one of the largest gardens in Egypt.
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