5 Spiritual Sites In Egypt
Egypt is already known for being a great place to head for a vacation. Nobody would dispute that. Millions of people head to Africa every year to take in the sights and sounds of the famous country, but the majority of them visit the same destinations. In doing so, they miss out on some of the nation’s quieter, lesser-known delights.
When we think of Egypt, we think of the Sphinx, and of the legendary pyramids. They’re so famous that they’ve been used as the backdrop to countless television shows, movies, video games, and mobile slots on website like Rose Slots. When a location is so famous that people use it as the theme for mobile slots games, it’s inevitably going to be very popular. Almost as many people play mobile slots like ‘Tutankhamun’ and ‘Ancient Egypt’ as there are tourists in the country at peak times. Because of that, the best-known locations can feel very loud and crowded. If the purpose of your visit is to enjoy a little peace and quiet and do a little spiritual fine-tuning, the thought of being surrounded by thousands of noisy visitors can be off-putting.
Don’t write Egypt off as a place of spiritual pilgrimage, though. If you’re prepared to venture a little off the beaten track, you’ll find plenty of places for quiet contemplation. Here are just five of Egypt’s hidden spiritual gems, which you may not have come across before.
The Temples of Abu Simbel
Egyptian history and folklore are filled with stories about the great Kings, Queens, and Pharaohs. One of the most famous of all of them was Ramesses II, who is considered the greatest leader of Egypt’s golden age. He owes part of his great reputation to the stunning structures he ordered to be built during his 66-year reign, and the temples of Abu Simbel rank among the very best of them. You’ll find them just south of Aswan, close to the country’s border with Sudan.
There are two temples at the site, the largest of which was built 3200 years ago and dedicated to Nefertari, the Pharaoh’s favorite wife. Both temples are still in incredible condition considering their age, with brightly colored carvings and murals still adorning the interior walls. The quietest spot within in them – and therefore the best place to sit and quietly gather your thoughts – is the room at the back of the Great Temple with its four giant statues. Catch it at the right time of day, and you’ll find that the sun shines straight through the temple doors to illuminate the statues, giving them an ethereal glow.
Philae Temple has the look and feel of a building that’s been stood in the same spot for thousands of years, so it may surprise you to learn that the entire building was moved during the 1960s to make way for the building of a dam in Aswan. It used to be on the banks of Lake Nasser, but it’s now on Agilka Island. Philae Temple is especially notable because it’s one of the last great religious sites to be built in Egypt before it was conquered by the Romans, and Christianity subsequently entered the country.
The entire temple is beautiful, having been carefully and delicately taken apart and put back together exactly the way it was after its move. If we had to pick a favorite part of the complex, we’d point to the double colonnade, where you’ll find the story of Osiris carved into the walls, progressing as you walk along it.
The Karnak Temples
The Karnak Temples are in Luxor, which was once the capital of Egypt back in the days when it was known as Thebes. It’s also the place where you’ll find the Valley of the Kings, which means it’s popular with visitors, but most of them are there to see the tombs rather than the temples. The Karnak Temples arguably don’t get as much love and attention as they should.
Technically speaking, Karnak should be referred to as one vast temple, but it’s so large and split across so many sites that it’s easier to think of it as a series of smaller buildings. Each obelisk, temple, and column has its own style and its own character, but that’s really not surprising. The site was added to over a period of two thousand years after it was first built, so it contains many different styles spread across several different eras.
Not every historical site in Egypt is dedicated to or built for a Pharaoh or ruler. Deir el-Medina was built for the workers who made the grander structures and therefore puts you in closer spiritual contact with the ‘real’ people of Egypt than many of the grander buildings and monuments do. Situated close to Luxor, Deir el-Medina is an ancient ruined village that still contains the tombs of thousands of the workers who built the Valley of the Kings.
The site isn’t much to look at above the ground, but go beneath to see the tombs, and you’ll discover a lot about how the common people of the ancient world lived and died. The style of murals and carvings you’ll see there are dramatically different than those of the Kings and Queens – and because of that, they somehow feel more authentic.
Habu Temple, which is also in Luxor, contains some of the best-preserved ancient carvings and murals anywhere in Egypt. Some of the original paintwork is still visible on the murals. Despite that, this is also one of Luxor’s least-visited sites. You can sometimes go there and find you have the whole place to yourself, which makes it easier to visualize what it must have looked like three thousand years ago.
Every single wall and column you look at is covered with artwork, all of which tells its own story. Why not spend a day there with a translation aid, working out the meaning of the stories yourself and therefore understanding them the way that the original artists intended for them to be communicated?
You don’t have to limit yourself to just the five sites we mentioned above. In fact, if you are going to Egypt, it would almost be rude not to visit the pyramids and the more famous sites, too. For those who seek inner peace, however, it may be easier to find it at these locations than anywhere else, so schedule a few of them in to make sure you get some ‘me’ time on your trip.