Friday, 6 May 2011

Egypt - Day 2

Day 2 was jam packed. We were up at the crack of dawn to visit Saqqara, the oldest stone monument/building on the planet, built around 5,000 years ago. As well as seeing the step pyramid we went inside a Mastaba and inside a tomb, both of which had fantastic carvings. The mastaba had scenes of fishing and hunting life and our guide really brought ancient Egyptian lifestyles to life.

Step Pyramid of Zoser

New things are being found all the time at Saqqara and I expected to see Indiana Jones rummaging around the many archaeological digs.


After Saqqara we drove back into Cairo and vistited two mosques. The first mosque, the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, was beautiful, with it's bare walls and open central courtyard.

Mosque & School of Sultan Hassan

As our guide explained the prinicples of Islam and the history of the mosque I watched these three woman making their lunch time prayer. After they had finished they spent time chatting and were very friendly, waving and smiling at us. Our guide offered to translate for me but I couldn't think of anything to ask them.

Mosque & School of Sultan Hassan

I like Islamic script when used as artwork and admired this carved Qur'anic text running high along the wall.

Mosque & School of Sultan Hassan

It is a very tranquil place.

Mosque & School of Sultan Hassan

The second mosque, the Mosque of Al Rif'i, had much busier decor though the brilliant shaft of light penetrating the dark interior could be construed as something divine or the brilliance of the natural world.

Mosque of Al Rifa'i

After another lunch of falefel eaten on the bus we had a brief visit to Coptic Cairo. We went to the Hanging Church, so called as it is buit on the foundations of a Roman temple. The church was busy as it was Easter Monday, with tourists and worshipers sharing the space inside.

Hanging Church

The courtyard was lovely, with kids running around and modern mosaics depicting biblical scenes.

Hanging Church

Hanging Church

We went straight from Coptic Cairo to the airport for our flight to Luxor to begin our Nile cruise.

It was great to finally relax after a day of 5000 year old temples, mosques and Christian churches and take in the classic view of the Nile with a cold beer.
Luxor sunset from our boat

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