The historic landmarks of Egypt tell the story of a land once home to one of the most iconic civilisations of the ancient world: the ancient Egyptians. Whether it’s the famed silhouette of the Pyramids of Giza or the allure of the Valley of the Kings, these great wonders continue to draw tourists from around the world in the thousands.
Yet, these incredible sites also reveal so much more about this nation’s past. Roman amphitheatres, Greek ports and World War Two battle sites, illustrate the pivotal role Egypt has had within international empires and their conflicts, from ancient to modern times.
Among the very best of these historic locations are Giza, Abu Simbel, El Alamein Battlefield, Dendera and Abydos – all included in our top 10 guide to Egyptian cultural monuments and historic landmarks.
Giza or ‘Al Giza’ is undoubtedly a tourist hotspot in Egypt and the site of some of Ancient Egypt’s most famous landmarks, most notably, the famous Pyramids of Giza.
Amongst the pyramid complex may be found the pyramids of Pharaohs Khufu, Khafra and Menkaure. The largest pyramid in Giza – and the world! – belongs to the second king of the Fourth Dynasty, Khufu or “Cheop”.
2. Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site in Egypt housing a series of incredible Ancient Egyptian monuments, especially a number of rock temples. The most famous sites at Abu Simbel are the two Temples of Ramesses II.
Known as Ramesses the Great (sometimes spelt Ramses), Ramesses II is one of the most famous Egyptian pharaohs and formed part of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Saqqara in Egypt is the ancient necropolis of the city of Memphis, the capital of Ancient Egypt, which was founded in 3000 BC by Menes. It contains a host of burial chambers and pyramids, and is the oldest complete stone building complex in history.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Saqqara is home to 11 major pyramids sprawled over 6 miles.
4. Villa of the Birds
Even though the Villa of the Birds is one of Alexandria’s most recent discoveries, in a city of beautiful antiquity it should definitely be on your ‘places to visit in Alexandria’ list!
Unearthed as recently as 1998 by the Polish Archaeological Mission, the Villa of the Birds in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria dates to the time of Emperor Hadrian (117AD – 138AD) and is named for its incredibly detailed pavement.
5. El Alamein Battlefield
El Alamein Battlefield in Egypt was the site a major victory by the Allied forces during World War Two, known as the Second Battle of El-Alamein. Over 3 years, Allied and Axis forces engaged in an ongoing conflict in the North African region, with Germany’s commander, Rommel, intent on capturing Alexandria and the Suez Canal.
The victory was a vital turning point for the Allies, summarised succinctly by Winston Churchill: “It may almost be said, Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.”
The Dendera complex lies approximately 50 miles north of Luxor and on the west bank of the Nile. It contains some of the best preserved and most accessible ancient Egyptian ruins to be found in Egypt, including temples, tombs, and even a Christian chapel.
As well as the Temple of Hathor, other notable areas at Dendera include both Egyptian- and Roman-era birth houses, a chapel dedicated to the Egyptian deity Isis, the gateways of Domitian and Trajan and a late-Roman Empire period Christian basilica.
7. Underground Library of Alexandria
The underground library of Alexandria, found underneath the ruins of the Serapeum, consists of a series of subterranean tunnels and storerooms where it is believed part of the collection of the Great Library of Alexandria was stored.
Today visitors can explore these underground chambers and see the niches in the walls where the documents were stored.
8. Luxor Temple
The Luxor Temple in the city of Luxor, Egypt was once a sacred temple built in honour of the deity Amun.
Constructed in the 14th century BC by Amenhotep III, the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, the Luxor Temple was part of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes.
The Romans constructed a military fort around the temple that the Arabs later called Al Uqsur (The Fortifications), which was later corrupted to give modern Luxor its name.
9. Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, was once part of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. From the Eighteenth Dynasty to the Twentieth, the pharaohs of Egypt were buried in the Valley of the Kings, which is also known as the Valley of the Gates of the Kings.
Today, visitors flock to see the myriad of ancient tombs cut into the limestone of the Valley of the Kings, which are mostly contained in its eastern valley.
10. Pompey’s Pillar
Pompey’s Pillar is an incredible solitary granite column in Alexandria, Egypt and one of the few Roman remains to have survived in the city.
Whilst called “Pompey’s Pillar”, this 25 metre tall structure was actually dedicated to the Emperor Diocletian, who ruled Rome from 284 to 305 AD.