Aswan Travel Guide

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Aghan Khan Mausolee

Aghan Khan Mausolee

Anne

Aswan is the major travel hub of the south of Egypt. The area has many things worth exploring - Elephant island, the Philae Temple, the Aswan dam and further afield Abu Simbel, which can be see as a day trip from here.

Aswan and its surroundings were known as Nubia in ancient times. You will find that event today, Aswan had more of an 'African feel' to it than any other city in Egypt. Although you might want to give the 'Nubian dancers' performing in the expensive hotels a miss, getting a real taste of this ancient culture would be an excellent opportunity and an experience you will not forget - the Nubian Cultural center is a good option here.

The city proper lies on the east bank of the Nile. Relax here, visit a few mosques, but then prepare for an adventure. The bazaar runs along the Corniche, which continues past the Ferial Gardens and the Nubian Museum, and continues on to the Cemetery, with its forest of cupolas surmounted tombs from the Fatimid period. Just east of the cemetery in the famous area quarries is the gigantic Unfinished Obelisk. Just to the south of this, two Graeco-Roman sarcophagi and an unfinished colossus remain half buried in the sand.

The west bank is really worth a visit. Take a walk (or a cycling trip) in the Nubian villages and green agricultural area near the Nile river or visit the many sites on the West bank:

Tombs of the Nobles & Kubbet al Hawa
The northern hills of the west bank (Kubbet al-Hawa meaning windy dome) are filled with the rock-hewn tombs of princes from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period. The 6th Dynasty tombs, some of which form linked family complexes, contain important biographical texts. Inside, the tombs are decorated with vivid wall paintings showing scenes of everyday life, hieroglyphic biographies and inscriptions telling of the noblemen's journeys into Africa.

Monastery of St. Simeon
The history of the monastery of St. Simeon dates back to the 7th century, and survived long as a Christian stronghold of southern Egypt until destroyed by Saladin in 1173. While still in use it housed 300 monks, and could in addition receive up to 100 pilgrims at a time. The monastery was surrounded by a 10 metre high wall, and doubled as a fortress. Apparently, the monastery did not return to its original use after Saladin's destruction.

Elephantine Island
Elephantine Island is the largest of the Aswan area islands, and is one of the most ancient sites in Egypt, with artifacts dating to predynastic periods. This is probably due to its location at the first Cataract of the Nile, which provided a natural boundary between Egypt and Nubia. As an island, it was also easily defensible. In fact, the ancient town located in the southern part of the island was also a fortress through much of it's history. At one time, there was a bridge from the mainland to the island. One of it's main attractions is it's Nilometer . Another major attraction is the ruins of the Temple of Khnum . Don’t forget to visit Animalia . It’s the small museum of guide Mohamed, who collected all kinds of Nubian products and objects from nature around Aswan and Lake Nasser. You’ll find a lot of information about daily life in Nubia and even connections with the history of the pharaohs.

The botanical gardens on Kitchener Island
Kitchner's Island is a botanical garden, filled with exotic plants and trees imported from all over the world. It is a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon in the shade. The island must be reached by boat, and is located on the other side of Elephantine Island from Aswan. The Island was given to Lord Kitchner for his campaigns in the Sudan, and he moved their and created his garden, importing plants and trees from all over the world.

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: www.adifferentegypt.com

Contributors

August 16, 2008 change by ellenabdel (1 point)

June 29, 2007 change by lpx

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