Take a step into ancient pasts, from the 5,000-year-old tomb of a Queen, to the gorgeous walls of a mosque madrassa (school).
While we’re on lockdown, a lot of us may begin to struggle with boredom or anticipation of this unforeseeable future ahead of us. Some businesses are reopening, while airports are taking extra measures to show their sanitation methods in the wake of Corona.
But this doesn’t mean that we should wile away waiting. We’ve taken the courtesy to scavenge through the internet for online tours that you could take from your bedroom right now. Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities released five virtual tours by the Giza Project at Harvard University exploring some of Egypt’s historic sites.
So, without further ado, stay home, stay safe, and check out the virtual tours below.
Location: Giza, Cairo
Quick Story: Queen Meresankh III – wife of Khafra and granddaughter of Khufu – has her mastaba quietly located by the Great Pyramid in Giza. The tomb is the oldest virtual walkthrough of Egyptian sites, an attraction that dates back to 5,000 years.
The tomb was discovered in 1927, and remains to be one of the most well-preserved tombs with paintings showing life in ancient Egypt, from men hunting for water birds to servants making their offerings.
Location: Sohag, Upper Egypt
Quick Story: Upon stepping into the Red Monastery (Deir al Ahmar), it’s difficult not to feel like royalty. The Coptic church is believed to have been built in the 4th Century by an Egyptian saint called Pishay. The name derives from the color of the burnt red bricks lining the structure from the outside. The Red Monastery’s name also distinguishes it from another nearby monastery – the White Monastery, which is made of white stone.
Step inside al Deir, and let the magnificent architectural designs take your breath away. Pillars upon cavetto moldings and religious murals. There’s a reason why this monastery remains to be one of the most popular churches in Egypt today.
Location: Moez Street, Cairo
Quick Story: This 14th-century Mosque-Madrassa is known for how big it is, as well as its impressive and beautiful architecture. The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq is a religious complex in Islamic Cairo which was once a school for religious education. Children used to crowd this complex to learn the four schools of Islamic thought, which were the mosque, madrassa, mausoleum, and khanqah.
This complex was to set the tone for Cairene architectural decoration between the years 1400 and 1450. The minarets, domes vouched for a powerful role of the Mamluk architecture, dominating the present architectural norm. The complex stood out from the average Cairene architecture with its use of different building materials and design.
With bronze-plate doors, molded stone ornament, and elaborately designed minarets, this is definitely one of the more impressive visits on al Moez street.
Quick Story: Kom el Shoqafa translates to Mound of Shards in Arabic, and it’s a historical site that stands as one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The underground cemetery is a necropolis which contains statues and ancient objects connected to Pharaonic funeral rituals.
The style of the interior architecture is heavily influenced by Greek and early Imperial Roman design. The 3-floor site is cut through solid rock, with a circular staircase that was used to transport the bodies downwards. It was used as a burial chamber from the 2nd century to the 4th century. There is also a funeral banquet hall where friends and family of the deceased would gather to mourn the dead.
This site was accidentally discovered early in the 20th Century and stands as one of the most important Greco Roman necropolis in Egypt.
Location: West Bank, Luxor
Quick Story: One of the most colorful and well-preserved tombs to date, since somewhere between 1549 and 1292 B.C. The Tomb of Menna is carved into cliffs in the Theban necropolis of West Bank. Not much is known about Menna, but the elite decorations give away that he was a scribe and security of fields and Amun-Re temple.
Location: Valley of the Kings, Luxor
Quick Story: Also known as KV9, Ramses VI’s tomb is one of the most interesting and attractive tombs in this valley. The tomb has some of the broadest corridors, as well as a great variety of decorations, from text and hieroglyphics to paintings of astronomical scenes.
On the walls are depicted scenes from the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, and the Book of Heavens. There is also the famous image of Nut surrounding the Book of the Day and Book of the Night on the ceiling of the tomb.
The sky goddess is seen swallowing the sun in the evenings, and giving birth to the sun in the mornings, as a means to give new life by reviving souls of the dead. The walls of the tomb contain many images of Ramses VI as he’s guided by gods against the force of darkness.