BETTER VIEWS THAN FROM AN AIRPORT CONTROL TOWER
When it comes to choosing a place for enjoying Aswan´s incredible views, we will recommend you the Panorama Restaurant and Bar at the Movenpick Resort. Situated in the historic Elephantine Island´s centre, this hotel has a high tower where this restaurant- bar is located. Offering excellent customer service, if you are looking for economical or moderate prices, even though not recklessly high, the prices are relatively higher than in other places in the city, talking in terms of European standards.But certainly, you will pay not only for the food but also the treatment and the incredible views you will enjoy during your stay.
The atmosphere is enjoyable and elegant. Few tables and dim light create a romantic space, thanks to the unbeatable views both of the city of Aswan to the east of the river, and on the other side, looking west, where there are few buildings and the desert over which the sun sets. You can also see the Elephantine Island way below, an island filled with monuments and memories from the Pharaoh´s times, such as some temples and the "Nilometer" that measured the river floods. The views from this place are genuinely excellent because no other similar height buildings are present to block the views of the horizon.It is lovely to go at sunset when its beautiful colours over the desert enchant you.
Also, you can go at night to see the whole city illuminated and the cruise ships on the Nile reflecting their lights twinkling on river waters.The restaurant has an antique utensils collection gathered by the owner over the years, although they are not from the Pharaonic´s era. There are tables both indoors and outdoors.The restaurant´s cuisine is mainly European, but you can also enjoy some local and Egyptian specialities.
Elephantine Island, Movenpick Resort.
The restaurant is open from noon to midnight.Tel.: +20 122 702 7220
In Aswan, with the heat of the nearby desert in the south of Egypt, rather than suggesting something to eat, we will introduce you to a refreshing drink, which we believe will make you feel good, relieve your thirst, and energise you.The Karkadé, also known as Hibiscus or Jamaica´s flower, is a plant abundant in subtropical weather. Its red petals are used as an infusion to prepare a super refreshing drink that, together with black tea, is one of the most popular drinks in the land of the pyramids.This plant belongs to the Malvaceae family that grows up to two meters high and is often seen decorating parks, gardens, and even private properties in Egypt and other countries with subtropical weather.
It is sensitive to cold and does not grow in cool climates. Native to Malaysia and India, it spread to other countries such as Africa. It has also spread to other parts of the world, such as Mexico and Central America.Egyptians use this plant´s red flower to prepare a highly prized drink in Egypt, with a slightly tangy flavour that may remind us of cranberry or pomegranate. It is used in various ways, and apart from being very refreshing, it is attributed to many medicinal properties. These include detoxifying, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure due to its vasodilating properties.
It has lipid-lowering, cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering properties as it stimulates liver and kidney function. The karkadécan be consumed cold, with ice, or hot, like tea, the preferred way of the Egyptians. Curiously, although it may not seem like it, hot drinks help combat heat more than cold ones, perhaps because by increasing the internal temperature, the external temperature is felt less. Karkade flowers are easy to find in Egyptian markets and grocery shops, and there won´t be a street corner where you can´t find one, and it is also a very cheap drink. Usually, you will find the whole flower dried and also crushed. Suppose you are buying it to take away.
In that case, we strongly recommend buying it as a whole, just dried, which will help preserve its properties and flavour better, and once at home, you can grind it yourself with a grinder like the ones used to grind roasted coffee beans or with a mortar and pestle, manually. To prepare five cups, you will need one litre of water and two tablespoons of karkade. Just bring the water to a boil, add the karkade and let it simmer. In Egypt, they use a lot of sugar in everything, so let the vendor know beforehand if you don´t want or can´t have sugar.
You can find it in all the little tea stalls in Aswan, both in humble or luxurious cafes and restaurants. It´s also commonly offered at hotel receptions or in the Nubian village as a welcome drink.
BLACK AFRICAN PRODUCTS
The name Aswan comes from the ancient Egyptian word ´soun´, meaning souk or trade. Aswan, located on the southern border of Egypt, was the last civilised Egyptian enclave before caravans in search of slaves, hardwoods, fragrant resins, animal hides and horns, and gold moved into black Africa. In addition to all this, the Nubian city of Aswan has quarries of pink granite further south, a stone desired by the Egyptian rulers to construct their palaces and temples. This made it a wealthy city.
And the most exciting thing for you, travellers from the 21st century, is that Aswan is still the gateway to Black Africa. Above all, what interests you most in this chapter are its exotic products, which are hard to find elsewhere in Egypt. If you do find them, they will be more expensive. As soon as you arrive in Aswan, you feel you are at the gateway to Black Africa. You can feel it in the atmosphere, the people and the markets.
The Aswan souk is a magnificent market where African and Egyptian products are mixed. It is known as "Sahria as-Souq" and is where you can find the cheapest souvenirs in the city. It is only four blocks from the river and runs parallel to it in seven streets. Like all the oriental markets, you can find the typical spices stalls, perfumes, cotton fabrics, leather, ebony and metal crafts, marquetry, basketry, glass, etc. But the most exciting thing and what makes it different from other Egyptian markets is the Nubian community, which is not found elsewhere in the land of the Pharaohs.
They also sell authentic products from Africa´s heart, the desert, the oasis, and tribes from far away lands. Feathers, masks, hand canes, animal skulls, snake skins, ointments, different kinds of baskets, a whole variety of products that are difficult to find elsewhere in Egypt, in addition to all the typical products from Egypt like stone beetles, necklaces, leather bags, etc. This souk full of narrow streets is alive both day and night, and not only will you be able to find exotic products here, but it will also keep you entertained and surprise you at most of the time that you spent in there.
Aswan is a calm city and normally free of pickpockets, but then, be careful with your wallet and possessions to avoid being the victim of those invisible hands who might surprise you when you want to use your wallet.
Sheyakhah Thalethat, Quism AswanOpen 24 hours, the whole week.
THE BROKEN GIANT
During your visit to Aswan, you will visit a curious monument which is the Unfinished Obelisk. The ancient Egyptians placed obelisks in front of their temples on their sides. The first obelisk from Userkaf dates back to 2,500 BC. They were built of a single stone, had four sides. The top was pyramid-shaped and was usually covered with "electro", an alloy of gold and silver generally in a ratio ?of silver to gold, so that they would gleam in the sunlight, so important to the Egyptians and life on earth in general. The Aswan´s obelisk, probably the future brother of the one in Karnak, close to Luxor, broke down before its complete carving was finished and remained in the exact place where it is.
If it had been finished, it would have become the largest standing obelisk in Egypt. Many obelisks came out of this northern granite quarry of the southernmost Egyptian city as well as many stone blocks were scattered throughout the land of Nile to erect temples and palaces. The obelisks, perhaps the most striking carvings, were transported by boat, and after being trimmed in their quarries, they were taken to their final destinations. The obelisks were highly appreciated by foreign settlers who visited Egypt, mainly by the Romans and other peoples during the 19th century. Many obelisks were taken from Egypt to large European cities such as Rome, Paris, Istanbul, London, New York, sometimes used as a payment and barter or simply plundered, like many other stones from this ancient civilisation.
There are more than 30 in the world, almost all of them from this quarry.The Unfinished Obelisk is an excellent example of where these marbles came from and understand the carving procedure and its separation from the bedrock they were part of. But it is also a remarkable monument to take a selfie next to. Unlike his upright companions, it is nice that this unfinished obelisk allows us to see it in its lying state, still looking asleep but ready to rise any minute.
Surprise your friends with the only carved obelisk, unusual photo, the only one which remains on its construction site because it broke prematurely.
Sheyakhah Oula, Qism Aswan
With the completion of the Aswan Dam, the Egyptian government requested the UN to help relocate the monuments and artefacts that would be flooded by the dam´s construction and the subsequent filling of water over so much of the Nubian people´s historical lands in southern Egypt. The UN responded to this appeal on April 6th 1959, by relocating the great monuments, which will lead to the creation of the Nubia Museum in Aswan. Entire monuments were disassembled, such as Abu Simbel, which will be cut out of its original quarries and brought as a whole to the place where it can be seen today above the highest water level of the dam. Another monument rescued and given to the Spanish government for their help is the Debod monument, located in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
It was in January 1975, then, that the Egyptian government, through its General Authority of Antiquities, asked UNESCO for assistance in the creation of museums in which to place materials. UNESCO then set up a committee for the construction of such museums in Cairo and Aswan. Nubian Museum of Aswan´s foundation stone was laid in Aswan on February 4th 1986. Today the museum has three floors and more than 50,000 square metres, of which the main building covers 7,000 square metres.
The museum´s design is the work of Mahmoud El-Haquim. The museum contains Nubian artefacts of all types and from all periods, from prehistoric to Islamic, including the Neolithic, Pharaonic, Roman, Byzantine and Coptic periods. There are approximately 3,000 pieces, almost all of them are exhibited inside the museum, although some pieces are kept in the courtyard and outside. The museum also has a library and an information desk. The construction of this place lasted 11 years, and it was inaugurated on November 11th 1993. This building cost 60 million pounds. The word "Nbu" means gold in old Egyptian, and it referred to some famous precious metal mines located in this region.
This is where the museum gets its name from. It is worth mentioning that the fertile land of Nubia was found in the Nile River valley, mainly to Aswan city´s southern side. Most of this land was flooded, leaving a large part of its territory underwater.
Sheyakhah Oula, Quism Aswan.
Open from Thursday to Tuesday.From 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm Closed on Wednesdays.
20 Egyptian pounds.
Tel: +20 97 2484133
GOING ON A PILGRIMAGE IN A CAMEL
We will propose an absolute adventure fit for Indiana Jones that will not disappoint you and which will last forever as an intense and courageous experience. The idea is to get to the Monastery of San Simón on a camel! In fact, you could also get there on foot, but just to make it more adventurous, we recommend that you do it by camel. The Monastery of Saint Simon was built by Coptic Christians in the 6th century, in the early days of Christianity on the western bank of the Nile River opposite the city of Aswan.
Subsequently, it was strengthened to protect it from Muslim attacks until the sanctuary was finally stormed by Saladin´s troops, abandoned to its fate and left in ruins. Partially rebuilt by missionary monks in the 10th century, who was responsible for converting the Nubians to Christianity, it is now in ruins but is one of the largest monasteries of whole Egypt. The adventure is well worth it, as, in addition to visiting the monastery and the beautiful walk to get here, you will have excellent views of the Nile River and the city of Aswan on the other side, as well as enjoying a ride on one of these humpbacked animals.
The monastery, which can be visited, has two terraces. The lower terrace is the Basilica, while the upper deck hosts the monks´ private rooms, dormitories, and places to carry out their duties. The highlights from the interior include frescoes of the apostles on the walls of the main church and the original furniture still preserved in some of the rooms. There are also objects from the day-to-day life of the monks, such as an old olive press, a mill and several ovens. Tips:You can get there from the city side by taking a public boat that will take you to the Nile River´s left bank or in a falucca.
If you want to walk, there is a well-marked path from where you disembark, but if you´re going to take your adventure a little further, hire a camel when you get off the boat.The monastery is open from 7 am to 4 pm, and admission is about 20 Egyptian pounds. The public boat to and from the monastery costs about 10 pounds, and the falucca costs as much as the camel - it´s a matter of bargaining.
Remember to bargain. In Egypt, bargaining is the norm.
RACISM IN ANCIENT EGYPT?
The 25th dynasty, coming from these lands of southern Egypt and northern Sudan, and known as the dynasty of the Black Pharaohs, curiously, although it ruled the country of the Nile from 747 to 664 BC, is the only one that is not depicted on the marble panels at the entrance of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Why? The Kushite people existed long before the creation of the Ancient Egyptian Empire 5,000 years ago.
This village of artisans, traders, delicate goldsmiths and fine warriors specialised in the handling of the bow, rivalled their northern neighbour by creating their independent civilisation, though always under the threat of hostility and conquest from the north, and not only that, but they even managed to crown their own rulers in Egypt. A dynasty of black pharaohs, the Kushite dynasty, from the south, from the city-state of Napata, saved Egypt in times of uncertainty.
South of the third cataract in the city of Kerma, a glittering trading centre between ancient Egypt and the Kush kingdom to the south. Egyptian traders came here searching for the gold so prized by the pharaohs, but other metals, livestock, animals, exotic furs, fine woods, incense, pottery and slaves were also traded. The Egyptians had only a material interest in the kingdom of Kush. Surrounded by walls, Kerma has a brick structure with a base of 50 x 25 metres and 18 metres high (59,0551ft.), which is 4,500 years old, which means as old or almost as old as the first Egyptian pyramids.
Therefore, there were two kingdoms: the kingdom of Egypt to the north and the kingdom of Kush to the south. Even the archaeologist George Reisner could not overcome racist prejudices when he considered that the Nubian pyramids were not built by blacks but by white-skinned Egyptians from the north. New studies and findings have fortunately corrected these prejudices and lack of recognition. Certain extend of racism towards the Kushites has always existed, as the pharaohs themselves took it upon themselves to erase them from their monuments and writings. Today, it is widely accepted that around 730 BC, Egypt suffered a tremendous political, religious and moral crisis as the country was divided into city-states, which threatened the central power.
Libyan invaders arrived in northern Egypt, and the priests of Amun in Karnak, seeing their power and privileges in danger, called upon the Kushite Pharaoh Piye or Pianji to save Egyptian civilisation. The latter did not hesitate, appearing at Thebes with a large army. After being proclaimed son of Amun, he ordered his soldiers to bathe in the Nile. They all sprinkled their bodies with the sacred water from the temple of Karnak before going to liberate the north of the country from the Libyans. Piye would thus become the successor to pharaohs such as Thutmose III and Ramses II and the founder of the 25th dynasty, the dynasty of the black pharaohs because of their darker skin colour.
He died in 715, having liberated Egypt from invaders and unified its sovereignty and strengthened the cult of Amun. He was buried in an Egyptian-style pyramid with four of his horses. Other black pharaohs who succeeded him considered themselves entirely Egyptian in culture and religion and never saw themselves as invaders but as part of the same kingdom:
Upper and Lower Egypt and Kush.
THROUGH THE CENTER TO THE MOSQUE
From the Kornish Al Nile promenade, which runs along the River Nile´s right bank, we can take a pleasant stroll through the city centre to the most striking mosque in the city, the Masjid Al Rabyah, and visit it. We will start from the Emy cafeteria-restaurant, which is open 24 hours a day. In this place, we will be able to hydrate ourselves a little because depending on the time of the year, the city can be extremely hot or eat something regional if we are hungry. The walk is ideal if you do not have much free time. It only takes 10 minutes if we take the central and straight Salah El Deen Street that continues as Al Kopti Street till Dr Al Rady Hanafe Street, where we will turn for a few meters to the right to take the ramp to the left.
Following these steps, we will arrive at the beautiful mosque. On the way, you will find cafeterias, pastry shops and some restaurants. But if you have more time, you can walk a little bit more in the Arawa Ediwa Bazaar, which will be a little to the left of where the SalahEl Deen Street starts. It is an excellent place for shopping and enjoying the atmosphere. Remember that this bazaar is open 24 hours a day. The mosque, considered one of the most beautiful of whole Egypt, is located on a hill and is visible from most of Aswan´s city areas. This religious centre is a clear example of a central domed mosque and has an arched entrance with two minarets, one on each side of the building.
The prayer hall is located just below the central dome. It is also worth mentioning its beautiful gardens, situated in the middle of a park. The mosque has beautifully coloured ceilings with large chandeliers hanging from them, with fine artistry in the architecture. At dusk, it is beautifully illuminated, giving it an appearance of lightness and grandeur accentuated by its delicate minarets that look up to the clear starry desert sky.
Kornish Al Nile Promenade in front of Elephantine Island cross with Salah El Deen Street
.Masyed Altabyah: Sheyakhah Thalenthah, Qism Aswan. Open 24 hours a day.
A QUIET PLACE TO MEDITATE
On the Nile River´s left side, on its western bank, is the desert. The city of Aswan lies on the other side, so does the city of Luxor. The Egyptians chose this bank of the river facing the setting sun as the resting place for the dead, while the area of the rising sun was reserved for the living. Aswan has a seemingly simple, sober but grand building, clearly visible from the city across the river, the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan. This building is the resting place of the Aga Khan III, leader of the Ismailis, a branch of Islam, and was built at the request of the "begum", his wife, to give her husband a dignified and noble resting place.
The building is constructed with pink granite, like so many monuments of ancient Egypt, in the Fatimid style. Aga Khan shared and supported the views of his ancestors, who founded the Fatimid dynasty in Cairo and who represented one of the apogees of Muslim culture, as they encouraged the arts, literature, architecture, science and pluralism. The widow supervised its construction in 1957, taking 16 months to complete with the Egyptian architect Farid El Shafie´s help. Under this mausoleum is the Aga Khan´s summer house.
The widow placed a rose on her husband´s tombstone when she visited Aswan, asking the gardener to do the same when she was not present. The monument, which was open to the public for a long time, was closed to the public at his wife´s request in 1997 to preserve peace. She was buried with her husband after she passed away in 2000. If you are looking for tranquillity, and a space full of simple architectural beauty in a beautiful natural setting, be sure to come here to spend some time surrounded by peace and tranquillity. If possible, come here when the sun is setting and feel the peace and serenity of this place where the intense blue skies of Upper Egypt meet the golden sands of the desert and where the dunes are bathed in the waters of the longest river in Africa.
It will be a moment of peace and self-reflection where you will have a fantastic view of the feluccas sailing down the river, taking advantage of the current of the water and the wind that swells their sails. Please take the opportunity to relax with the elements while the gentle desert breeze brushes your face and feel how it is to be alive on the side of the dead. Tip: you will find it easy crossing the Nile from Aswan to the other side.
Many private boats will offer you their private services, but you also have the public boat service. Remember that the feluccas are the sailboats that navigate the Nile.
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