No country on earth can boast a richer and more varied history than Egypt. Recorded history predates 3000 BCE and stretches throughout the pharaonic period, which ended in 30 BCE with the arrival of the Romans. For the next several hundred years Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. After the Empire's partition in the Fourth Century CE, Egypt was ruled from Constantinople. During this time, Christianity arose as a prominent religion in Egypt. A small but active Coptic Christian minority continues until this day.
Seeds of the Egypt we know today were sown in 641 CE with the Arab invasion and the arrival of Islam. Egypt eventually became an influential center of learning and culture within the Islamic world, despite rule by the Ottoman Turks and other foreign powers. Today, Egypt remains the predominant cultural influence in the Arab world, producing much of the Arabic music, movies, books and television programs popular throughout the region.
I spent a total of almost one month in Egypt during several visits in September through November, 2000. I used Cairo as my jumping off point to see various parts of the country, including Alexandria in the north, Sharm El Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula (where I did some scuba diving), the archeological sites of Giza, Saqqara and Memphis (all day trips from Cairo) and a Nile cruise that brought me to Luxor, Karnak, Thebes, Aswan, Abu Simbel and points in between. The temples and monuments from the pharaonic times were magnificent even beyond my grandest expectations. The size of these structures defies the imagination and the well preserved state of many of the carvings helps bring them to life. It was also interesting to visit some of the grand mosques from the Islamic era.
A drawback of Egypt, in my book, however, was the enormous number of tourists that crowd all the major sites. At times it was impossible to simply walk through the Egyptian museum in Cairo, to see many of the displays, or to examine more closely an important carving or other aspect of the temples. Egypt is certainly worth the trip, but the traveler should be warned that it has been discovered – in a very big way!
In Egypt you will also be constantly bombarded with sales pitches from the locals, and not just in the tourist sites where you might expect it. The fellow who carried my luggage to my hotel room on one occasion had a brother-in-law who owned a perfume store. Would I like to visit? On another occasion, the porter knew someone who owned a car that I could hire for the day. I declined, but still received a call the next day from the friend urging me to change my mind. Walking the streets almost anywhere attracted someone looking to do business. In this regard, I found Egypt to be far more annoying than any other country I have visited.
The photos above offer a quick view of some of the highlights of Egypt. For more detail on the particular areas of the country, follow the links to other Egypt pages in the drop-down list below. The pages are divided into:
• Historical sites. The photos on these four pages are presented in chronological, rather than geographic, order and follow Egypt's development through history. When traveling in Egypt it is often difficult to keep in perspective exactly when certain structures were built in relation to others. I have tried here to place the photographs in an order that preserves the chronology even though to actually see the sites in this order during a visit would require too much jumping around geographically. To take this tour through history, start on the Old Kingdom page.
• Scenes from modern Egypt. These pages offer a glimpse of modern-day Egypt in Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh and along the Nile. To begin the tour of modern-day Egypt, start on the Alexandria & Sharm El Sheikh page.
• Some pages may also include additional photos that will run in a separate pop-up window.