Day 1 – Cairo
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
The day is at leisure.
Overnight Steigenberger Pyramids, Giza
Day 2 – 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 817CE.
After our visit and lunch at a local restaurant we drive to Alexandria and check into our hotel for the next 3 nights.
Overnights Sheraton El Montazah, Alexandria B, L
Day 3 & 4 – Explore Alexandria
Over the next 2 days we will explore 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.
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.
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.
Overnights Sheraton El Montazah, Alexandria B
Day 5 – Tanis and return to Cairo
After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, 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
Though Tanis contains the tombs of the kings of the 21st and 22nd
Dynasties, it has been known chiefly as an obelisk graveyard from the
many Old and Middle Kingdom monuments moved to the site three thousand
years ago. The Engineers and scientists of the Egyptian Antiquities
Service have chosen to restore the old temple, to make it again the
rival of Luxor and Karnak. Statues and obelisks are being restored,
repaired and re-erected. We should get a much better sense of what Tanis
looked liked in its glory days.
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 the Out of the Tombs tour.
B, Boxed lunch