Feb 10, 2023 – Cairo
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel –
the Ramses Hilton hotel – directly across the motorway from Cairo’s
The day is at leisure.
Overnight Ramses Hilton, Cairo
Feb 11, 2023 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
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 12 & 13, 2023 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
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 14, 2023 – Tanis and return to Cairo
After breakfast and checking out, we head for Tanis.
Tanis, a site seldom visited, 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
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
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