Alexandria Pre Tour Extension
Feb 7, 2020 - Cairo
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel – the Ramses Hilton hotel – directly across the motorway from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.
The day is at leisure.
Overnight Ramses Hilton, Cairo
Feb 8, 2020 Wadi Natrun and Alexandria
After breakfast we head off to Alexandira via Wadi Natrun.
Wadi Natrun was important to the ancient Egyptians because the valley’s salt lakes dry up in the summer and leave natron, a substance crucial to the mummification process.
Wadi Natrun is known for its Coptic monasteries where thousands of Christians escaped from Roman persecution in the 4th century. Of the 60 or so original compounds in the valley, only four remain. These monastery buildings are impressive, as they were fortified after Arab raids in 817.
After our visit and lunch at a local restaurant we drive to Alexandria and check into our hotel for the next 3 nights.
Overnight Steigenberger Cecil, Alexandria B, L
The Historic Cecil Hotel faces the Mediterranean. Cleopatra’s palace was just across the bay to the east and the toy-like fortress of Qait Bey is just across, on the site of the famous Lighthouse on the Western Arm.
This elegant hotel has played host to Agatha Christie, Laurence Durrell, Field Marshall Montgomery, and Winston Churchill. During the Second World War, it was home to British Intelligence. From the Cecil, we can walk to the sea wall, and many of Alexandria’s most famous sites.
Feb 9 & 10, 2020 Explore Alexandria
Over the next 2 days we will explore the Ramesside connections in Alexandria.
Kom el Dikka is a beautiful site with the extensive remains of a Ptolemaic university, Odeon, and Roman houses with beautiful mosaic floors. It’s also the location of the conservation station where ancient statues brought up from the floor of the bay, are soaked to remove centuries of salt. Many Ramesside monuments rest here.
Nearby is the excellent Greco Roman Museum, with an astonishing collection of statues, coffins and terracottas.
Alexandria boasts many museums. The National Museum is in an elegant mansion that used to be a consulate. It has exhibits from all periods of the city’s history, from earliest times to the Nineteenth century.
Biblioteca Alexandria is the modern revival and restoration of the famous ancient Library. Architecturally stunning, it contains several exhibition halls and a very fine small museum of artifacts dug up during its construction. A planetarium is part of the biblioteca complex.The Biblioteca is in constant use by students who can work in one of the most gorgeous study halls ever imagined. A tour of the building will surprise and delight.
Not too far from our hotel is the ancient Serapeum – a temple to Serapis that contained a large library. It still boasts Pompey’s Pillar. This has nothing to do with Pompey the Great, being actually a column of red granite from Aswan that once held a statue of the Emperor Diocletian, made to commemorate his suppression of a revolt in the city. It’s one of the largest columns in the word made of a single shaft. It’s surrounded by an outdoor Museum with sphinxes of Horemheb and the Ramesside kings, as well the remains of the library of the Serapeum and many tombs.
Another not-to-be-missed locale is Kom es Sugafa. This site resembles a walk-in well, with a long spiral staircase taking us down to Roman era catacombs. The loculi that once held mummies are all empty now, but there are remarkable statues and reliefs carved in a mixture of Roman and Egyptian style that are quite wonderful to see.
Alexandria has many, many wonderful sights and sites. We’ll see what’s open!
Overnights Steigenberger Cecil, Alexandria B
Feb 11, 2020 - Tanis and return to Cairo
After breakfast and checking out, we head for Tanis.
Tanis is not a site that many people visit, despite the fact that it was home to the kings of the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Dynasties, and the location of their almost undisturbed tombs. Nowadays the silver coffins and other treasures of kings named Psusennes Sheshonk and Osorkon are in the Cairo Museum, but their surprisingly small decorated tombs are still there, ready for us to explore.
These tombs are not the only surprises at Tanis. Its ancient name was Djanet, which is the source of the Biblical name, Zoan. In the 1800s, many explorers and early archaeologists thought this mound in the marshes had been the city of the Exodus. Per-Ramesses. Many large and surprising monuments were uncovered with the name Ramesses II. Was it his capital, Avaris? In fact, the kings of the Third Intermediate Period who lived there were not wealthy enough to build great temples on their own, and so they scavenged and recycled columns, sphinxes, and enormous statues from Ramesses’ nearby abandoned city. Oddly enough, dozens of the monuments Ramesses used to decorate his capital had themselves been transplanted from Memphis and other cities. Many of the great statues with the names of Ramesses and his son, Merenptah, had originated in the Twelfth Dynasty, six hundred years before Ramesses, a thousand before Sheshonk.
Tanis is now an obelisk graveyard, and still the site of active excavations of a Roman city that stood there. We will explore Tanis, with the remains of great walls of a temple to Amun, its Old Kingdom Columns, Middle Kingdom Statues, the Royal Tombs, and its small site museum.
After our visit we will drive back to Cairo and check into our hotel. Extension ends with drop off at the hotel in Cairo. This night will be the first night of In the Footsteps Tour.
B, Boxed lunch
Tour cost $875 PP USD based on twin share. Single surcharge $385USD.
Non-Refundable Deposit of $100USD. Final payment due Dec 11, 2019
- 03 nights accommodation in Alexandria at Steigenberger Cecil or similar on BB Basis
- 01 night accommodation in Cairo at Ramses Hilton or similar on BB Basis
- All transfers throughout with air conditioned private bus - All tours as per itinerary
- Private English/ Egyptologist guide - Service charge and taxes
Price does not include:
- Extra meals or Beverages
- Tipping - guide and bus driver
- International or domestic airfare