Originally published at www.egyptianstreets.com
While Egypt may be facing political and social turmoil, Egypt’s exotic, mysterious and historic locations continue to stand, receiving adventurers and explorers. If you are thinking of exploring Egypt in 2014, then here are 14 must-visit places in Egypt, along with others that you should already have planned to see!
(Note: Many of these photographs are thanks to Mohamed Hakem. Check out his blog here: mhakem.com)
1. The White Desert
While it may look like the moon, this photograph was taken at the White Desert near Bahareya Oasis. The white surfaced desert which resembles an alien planet has been used to film Sci-Fi movies, including Vin Diesel’s Riddick. The desert is renowned for its rock formations, safari trips, and over night camping.
2. Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo
While Old Cairo is filled with historic mosques, Sultan Qalawun Mosque is unique in that it combines the architecture of European Churches and designs from the Islamic world. The Mosque was built during the Umayyad period in the year of 718 and uses similar features to those used in the Cordoba Mosque in Spain.
3. Wadi El-Hitan (Whale Valley) in Fayoum
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005,the area’s name “Whales Valley” comes from the hundreds of fossils of the earliest forms of whale, the archaeoceti, found in the area. The area has added to the debate surrounding the evolution of whales from being a land-based animal to becoming ocean-based mammals.
Apart from its scientific importance, Wadi El-Hitan provides one of the most spectacular camping experiences, providing campers with astronomical wonders at night that rival the Pyramids of Giza.
4. Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque was originally constructed in the year 970 and remains as one of the most important mosques in Egypt and the Islamic world. It was the first ever mosque built in Cairo and eventually developed the second oldest university in the world. Students at Al-Azhar were taught about science, maths, literature and other topics alongside religion. Today, Al-Azhar Institution is the most prominent Sunni Islamic Authority in Egypt and the Islamic world.
5. Qarun Lake
Lake Qarun is the third largest lake in Egypt and it remains a mystery how it was formed. There are many myths – including stories that go back to the days of Prophet Moses – but one thing is clear: it is beautiful.
6. The ‘Enlightened Mosque’
Named after Imam Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the sixth Fatimid Caliph, the Enlightened Mosque (Al-Jama’a Al-Anwar) was originally built between 928 and 992. Located in Islamic Cairo near Khan El-Khalili, the mosque is now a popular place of worship and is used by Egyptians seeking refuge from the chaos outside.
7. Bahareya Oasis
Bahareya Oasis, or Seaside Oasis, is an area known for its mangos and dates and it is believed that Alexander the Great once passed through the area, as there lies a temple for the Greek figure near by. Visitors can still see houses made from mud, which are aimed at isolating heat and cold.
8. The Black Desert
Close to the White Desert, the Black desert is known for its black-coated mountains. Many years ago, this area contained volcanoes that erupted, leaving black volcanic hills and black rocks.
This article was originally published at Egyptian Streets.