Written in the sand and rock lie the age-old stories of cultures past, all choosing this spot to leave their mark in search of legacy with the greats. The facade of ruin that shows from monuments, tombs, and ancient temples belies the vibrant life beneath, an adventure waiting to be had.
Valley of the Queens
Nefertari’s Tomb: The dream has come true and the restoration works of Nefertari’s tomb, the most famous of all queens, has been achieved. This tomb has been a symbol of challenge. Since its discovery at the beginning of this century in 1904 by the Italian archaeologist Schiaparelli, it endured bad circumstances, and all rescue efforts were insufficient & hard to be carried out, but, there is will, there is way. Having restored the tomb, Ker & Downey guests now have the opportunity to be a rare few allowed to visit the site of Nefertari’s tomb.
Abu Simbel: This is the site of two giant temples built at the southern border, more than three thousand years ago by King Ramses II. After building his own temple, Ramses then built the second one for his wife, Queen Nefertari. The temples were moved in 1960 to their current position, when it became obvious that they could be lost to the waters of Lake Nasser. Through the efforts of the UNESCO and world wide concern, the temples were sawn in huge blocks and rebuilt on a higher position, saving them from the water of the lake. One of the most amazing things about Abu Simbel is that twice a year, the rays of the sun enter through the corridors of the Great Temple and light the faces of the God’s in the sanctuary. This is an indescribable event that attracts thousands of people every year.
Egyptian Museum: Home to the largest collection of ancient Egyptian art anywhere in the world, the Egyptian museum is a historic maze of artifacts, gilded masks, decorated tombs, solid gold coffins, and exquisite jewelry. The museum is home to over 120,000 objects, including the remnants from the fabled tombs of Tutankhamen and Ramses. By day, the museum is packed full of tourists and historians perusing the great halls; however, Ker & Downey guests have the exclusive privilege of meandering the museum after hours, with a private Egyptologist in complete solitude.
The Sphinx Complex: The sphinx is one of the main landmarks of this country of vast deserts and the great River Nile. The concept of the sphinx first originated in Egypt and later spread to other parts of the world. The Greek version of the sphinx is a female monster with a feminine face, breasts, wings and a tail. According to ancient Egyptian mythology, the sphinx was a creature with a human head and the body of a lion. But sphinxes with the head of a ram, falcon and hawk are also seen in the country. Most of them are depicted as male, but there are a few exceptions. The sphinx was considered to be the guardian of royal tombs or temples by the ancient Egyptians and therefore placed in the vicinity of these structures. The face of a sphinx usually portrays a pharaoh, as he is supposed to be an incarnation of the sun god.
The Giza Plateau: When you think of Egypt, the first thing that comes to the mind are the Giza Pyramids. These three majestic structures, Cheops, Chephren & Mycerinos, are the oldest & the only of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world still intact. Guarding the whole Necropolis of Giza is the famous Great Sphinx, whose face is that of King Chephren, coupled with the body of a Lion as a symbol of power. The Plateau is an unbelievable site from which to see Cairo. But the best way to take in the splendor of Giza and its pyramids is by camel-back, an activity available by visiting Giza with Ker & Downey.
Karnak: The Karnak Temple complex is a vast open-air museum and the largest temple site in all of Egypt. It consists of four main parts (precincts), however its main attraction is that of the Temple of Amun-Ra, the Egyptian sun-god. This site is a great place to simply relax and enjoy a historic stroll down the avenues and walkways of Karnak, decorated with human and ram-headed sphinxes, along with incredible stories told by the intricate markings on the columns.
Seti’s Tomb: The tomb of Seti I (Sethos I) is the longest (at more then 120 meters), deepest and most completely finished in the Valley of the Kings. It also represents the fullest development of offset, or jogged royal tombs in the valley. Seti I’s reign is known for high achievements in art and culture, and his tomb was one of the hallmarks of his building projects, with highly refined bas-reliefs and colorful paintings. The decorations are more refined then in earlier tombs, with figures having larger ears and smaller mouths. This tomb marks the first time that decorations cover every passage and chamber. The decorative style established in this tomb is followed fully or in part by every succeeding tomb through the rest of the valley’s history.
Valley of the Kings: In the west bank of the Nile, across from Thebes (known as Luxor today) is the resting place of the greatest pharaohs of Egypt in the Valley of the Kings. For nearly 500 years, from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed here for the kings and powerful nobles of Egypt. With the 2005 discovery of a new chamber and the 2008 discovery of 2 further tomb entrances, the Valley of Kings is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers, varying in size from a simple pit to complex tomb systems. Ker & Downey guests at the Valley of Kings will explore like Indiana Jones these intricate burial grounds, and can even visit the mummy of the golden pharaoh Tutankhamun, the only Royal tomb still in its original location.
Deir El Medina
The Worker’s Village: The Worker’s Village at Deir el Medina is one of the most thoroughly documented communities in the ancient world. The village is in the southern part of the Theban necropolis in a valley behind Gurnet Murai hill. Workmen and their families left a record of village life that spans almost four hundred years and parallels much of the history of the New Kingdom dynasty. Surviving records shed little light on the major events, but rather the talk of everyday life – work, money, people, education, legal and religious matters.
The Step Pyramid: The Step Pyramid complex represents a milestone in the evolution of monumental stone architecture, both in Egypt and in the world as a whole. It marked the beginning of an evolutionary period that would eventually see the polished, smooth faced true pyramids of the Giza by the 4th Dynasty master builders. According to tradition, it was built for King Djoser, a major ruler of Egypt’s 3rd Dynasty, by Imhotep, Egypt’s most famous architect.
Learn about the other amazing sites to see while visiting Egypt with Ker & Downey by contacting our Egypt experts at 800.423.4236.