Cairo, and Memphis


My first trip to Africa! This is going to be a 4 part post, with a post covering each of the major stops we made as we traveled up the Nile from Cairo to Abu Simbel.

There are several locations we spent time in the Cairo area including Giza, Memphis, Saqqara, and Old Cairo/Coptic Cairo (this is the order that the pictures will be shown in).

Giza and Saqqara

We started the first day at Giza, and in fact, upon arrival, found we could go into the great pyramids and see the burial chamber. There are only 150 tickets sold each day for each pyramid because they can’t get more oxygen in there and people faint. The climb to the burial chamber is about 120m at about a 30-45˚ angle (its a bit of a climb, there is no fresh air, its a bit warm). No pictures allowed. Not a big deal. The burial chamber was about a 10m cube, and had an empty sarcophagus on the right (as you come out of the entrance). Next, we got to climb on/around the pyramids and photograph them. After we finished in Giza, we went to Memphis/Saqqara, which is about 20km south. Saqqara is the home to the first step pyramids (including those build by Djoser). Memphis was the ancient capital of (lower) Egypt (lower Egypt being essentially from Cairo to the Mediterranean Sea), about 20km south of Cairo. In Memphis, they have converted the Great Temple of Ptah into an open air museum which has statues of Ramesses II, and an Alabaster Sphinx.

Citadel, Alabaster Mosque, Bazaar, and Coptic Cairo

The second day, we started out at the Citadel of Salah El Din. This is a fortress that dates back to at least the 10th century. Inside the Citadel is the Alabaster Mosque. There are 2 gifts from the French at the mosque. Outside is a fountain which has never worked (somebody forgot to send the manual?). Inside, there is a lamp (now converted to electric lights) system which contains 360 lamps, 1 for each day of the year. After the mosque, we visited the Khan El Khalili Bazaar and had lunch. We also got to witness the mid-day prayers. Outside the mosque, there were 3 large umbrellas. These would be extended to provide prayer those praying and retracted when the people were done (leaving them looking like large lotus flowers. For lunch, we had Koshari that was delicious. After the Bazaar, we went to Coptic Cairo and visited the oldest Jewish Synagogue (no pictures allowed), as well as the Saint Sergius & Saint Bacchus Coptic Orthodox Church (Abu Serga) , and the Hanging Church. The Hanging Church is built on top of the gatehouse of the Babylon Fortress.