The land of pharaohs is full of antiquities, yet it is anything but stuck in the past. We are excitedly awaiting the opening of the new Grand Egyptian Museum.
By Haley Beham
History comes alive in Egypt. Cruising down the Nile, walking among the ancient temples, or gazing upon the pyramids of Giza — the last remaining wonder of the ancient world — you are time traveling through past civilizations. As you make your way through the towering columns of the colossal monuments, you can almost hear the shuffle of sandals on the temple floors. You’ve entered an ancient culture. It is mesmerizing, awe-inspiring, and otherworldly.
It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of the Egyptian temples without walking through them yourself. Perfectly legible hieroglyphics stretch across the temple walls. You can still see the vibrant colors of red, green, yellow, and blue on surfaces that have been protected from the elements.
At Karnak, Egypt’s largest temple complex, 134 sandstone columns with diameters of almost 10 feet soar in the sky in the Great Hypostyle Hall. Twelve of the columns are giant, reaching up to 70 feet, while the rest are 32 feet tall. They stand, waiting for visitors to walk through and uncover their secrets.
Over the last decade, Egypt’s tourism has taken a hit. First, there was the 2011 uprising, then ensuing turmoil and violence, a military coup, and the bombing of a Russian airplane in 2015. While Egypt’s tourism numbers are trending upward, they are a far cry from the nearly 15 million people that visited in 2010.
Everyone loves a comeback, and Egypt’s might be one of the greatest yet. The opening of a brand new, state of the art mega-museum marks a focus on the future, with an emphasis on ways to better preserve and flaunt some of the world’s most treasured artifacts.
At almost 700,000 square feet, the new Grand Egyptian Museum is set to remedy the overcrowding that often plagues the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. It is expected to be one of the largest archaeological museums in the world. Once completed, it will house about 100,000 artifacts. The Tutankhamun collection is likely to be the biggest draw. Since the discovery of the boy king’s tomb in 1922, only about a third of what was discovered has been on display. The new digs will display the complete collection of over 5,000 objects, including his famous funerary mask.
The new Grand Egyptian Museum will give visitors the chance to step back in time viewing 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. As guests make their way through the galleries, they will also be able to see the Giza pyramids, located less than two miles away, through the glass facades.
The new Grand Egyptian Museum is a source of tremendous national pride for the country. The hope is that it reinvigorate not only the tourism industry, but also the next generation of Egyptians who will be responsible for protecting the nation’s antiquities for years to come. This is of critical importance because Egypt shouldn’t be a one-time destination. Archaeologists are constantly unearthing monuments and making new discoveries. There’s something new to experience with each visit — whether it’s your first trip to Egypt or you are on a return excursion. Whatever you do, don’t stand still. The country with a wealth of antiquities is evolving. Don’t get left behind.
To start planning your trip to Egypt and a visit to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, contact a Ker & Downey destination specialist. For more travel inspiration, follow Ker & Downey on Instagram.