Embark on a Journey of Entertainment in Al Fayoum Oasis

Fayoum

Updated On: April 07, 2024 by   Salma IhabSalma Ihab

Our exquisite world is a whole of unique places. No matter how a travel bug you are, there will always be a beautiful destination that you may have missed. And that is perfect because you will still find something to quench your thirst for exploration. To the whole world, Egypt is an exciting country to explore. Egypt’s history extends back to ancient times, giving us more treasures to value. However, Cairo tends to take the most hype, for it is the capital of Egypt and the largest city. It is fantastic, but Egypt has more than the Great Pyramids of Giza and Cairo Tower. One neglected city is Fayoum; it lies in the South of Cairo and is only 90 Km away. This city bears a lot of historical evidence as well as entertaining locations.

Take an insight into the splendour of Fayoum, and we are sure it will be our next destination. 

Fayoum City & Oasis – City of Waterfalls Southwest of Cairo – Alchemist

THE HISTORY OF EGYPT

The civilization of Egypt has started from more than a few centuries ago. Through all those years, the ancient Egyptians left the world a bunch of monuments and history to discover. That is precisely what people come from all over the world to Egypt for: the Pharaonic culture. The three Great Pyramids of Giza always steal the attention of tourists. Along come the ancient museums of Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan. Besides, there is so much curiosity about the Nile River and how it became what it is. For a more modern history, people go to Cairo Tower and Downtown.

Aside from all of Egypt’s unique treasures, there is Al Fayoum. This city is not as modernized as Cairo is. Probably, that played a significant part in the attraction and rebellion of tourists. But, the truth is that every exquisite thing is appealing enough to tourists. And, despite its unpopularity, Al Fayoum has a long history and is full of attractions people are unaware of. Surprisingly, the strategic location of Al Fayoum makes it one of the oldest cities in Egypt. Archaeologists have come to terms with evidence that dates back to ancient times.

All About Al Fayoum City

Fayoum Oasis
Fayoum Oasis

Fayoum lies in the southwest of Cairo, about 90 or 100 kilometres away. Middle Egypt is the name of the location in which Al Fayoum lies. Al Fayoum Oasis is the capital of the Governorate of Al Fayoum. The ancient Egyptians used to call this area Shedet. On the other hand, different cultures used to call this city with different names. For example, the Greeks referred to it by either Krocodilopolis or Crocodilopolis, while the Romans used to call it Arsinoë.

The Story Behind the Greek’s Reference to Fayoum

The reason behind the Greek reference goes back to the Bible. According to an exegete of the 10th century, a verse stated that Pithom, a biblical city, existed. This city was home to a cult known to worship crocodiles, the cult of Sobek. The latter was the god of crocodiles. The Greeks called it Crocodilopolis, meaning the City of the Crocodiles. The area had crocodiles inhabited there.

The citizens of the city worshipped a specific crocodile named Petsuchos. They regarded it as a sacred crocodile and kept it in a particular temple pond. Priests and holy figures used to feed him the food that the visitors provided.

The Ancient History of the City of Fayoum

Al Fayoum city has existed since ancient times, and archaeologists have found evidence of it. One of the most significant pieces of evidence was that ancient Egyptians called it Shedet before it became Al Fayoum. It is also famous for home to several death masks and mummy portraits. The Romans were the painters of those portraits when they resided during the occupation. They preferred the cremation of dead bodies, while the Egyptians buried the bodies instead of burning them.

Pyramids Of Al Fayoum City

Egypt is famous for being the home to the oldest pyramids in history. However, people are most familiar with the Great Pyramids of Giza in the capital. Egypt houses several pyramids across different cities, and Al Fayoum City is no exception. It contains four pyramids that are landmarks and sites of attraction.

Maidum Pyramid

This pyramid is one of the most prominent attractions in the oasis. Some sources claim that it was the first attempt to build a pyramid. Others declare that it was the first one in Egypt to own a burial chamber above the ground. This chamber belongs to Pharaoh Snefru- Khufu’s father- and has beautiful decorations and arch-shaped walls. On the other hand, the pyramid itself belonged to Pharaoh Huni. Despite being an attraction in the city, it partially collapsed. When the pyramid first came into being, it was huge and consisted of eight levels. Due to the weather and other factors, only three levels remained. Archaeologists and engineers suggest that the collapse was not because of natural elements. They believe that the use of construction materials was what escorted the destruction.

Hawara Pyramid

As usual, pyramids in Egypt always belonged to ancient Egyptians or Pharaohs. This one, the Hawara Pyramid, belonged to Pharaoh Amenemhat III. The pyramid lies at the entrance of Al Fayoum Oasis, making it hard for you not to notice. It has an eroded exterior that was the result of other constructions. Hawara Pyramid is mainly of mud bricks; the outer layer of the stones was taken to be used for different constructions. For that reason, the eroded part took place.

Al-Lahun Pyramid

Pharaoh Senusert II built the Al Lahun pyramid during the Old Kingdom. The pyramid sits in the southeastern part of the Hawara Pyramid. Like its fellow pyramid, mud bricks make the whole pyramid up. This pyramid is famous for containing multiple papyrus documents that were mainly medical. The ancient Egyptians kept them in the pyramid, and they were proof of their cleverness in almost every field.

Lisht Pyramid

Another Senusert built another pyramid in the same area. But, this time, it is Senusret I who built the Lisht Pyramid. Mud brick was also the core formation of this pyramid; however, it has not survived for too long. Despite its destruction, people are aware of its precise location. The pyramid is famous for having tombs that sit nearby. Archaeologists discovered those tombs and the oldest versions of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Significant Places In Al Fayoum City

People usually refer to Al Fayoum as Oasis because ponds surround it, making it look like an oasis. However, the waters are not springs like the oasis; they stem from the Nile River. The river’s waters reach the oasis through plenty of canals since ancient times. Those elements helped make the area an attractive and touristic destination. Over and beyond, the city is home to several imperative archaeological sites; they are small, yet many. Formerly Crocodilopolis, Al Fayoum embraces vast areas that used to be the Ptolemaic cities.

To let things take an entertaining twist, Al Fayoum is also home to adventurous and impulsive trips. If you love to embark on spontaneous journeys, Al Fayoum should be your ultimate destination. It has vast areas where you can have fun in deserts, lakes, and more. Check them out; we are sure you’ll get in terms with something that piques your interest.

Wadi El Hitan- The Valley of Whales

“El Hitan” is an Arabic word that means Whale in English. The whole place means the Valley of Whales. The Valley of Whales is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Long centuries ago, the valley did not exist. Instead, it was a sea with many aquatic life, including whales. The water went dry throughout the years, and the marine life was no longer there. It left behind the skeletons of whales as well as fossils. For that reason, it is currently known as the Valley of Whales. The place is also full of rock formations that people enjoy watching when the dawn breaks. Moreover, the valley has a place called Garet Gohannam with a museum. Wadi El Hitan Museum is its name, and it owns hundreds of skeletons of extinct whales.

Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area

This valley is another significant site to look out for in Al Fayoum City. It sits about two hours from the Western Desert and is 42 km below sea level. The whole place is two lakes, not natural ones, though. The lakes are man-made and are created through agricultural methods. The waters of the lake stem from the oasis of Al Fayoum. The first lake joins the second through a channel and a waterfall. Over and beyond, the valley is an entire landscape that attracts people. Wadi El Rayan is a vast desert area that possesses several dunes. What makes the place interesting is the bird species residing in the valley and the rare and extinct animals. Those animals include Fennec Fox, Ruppell’s Sand Fox, and Dorcas Gazelles.

Qaroun Lake

Qaroun Lake is another site of attraction. It lies only twenty kilometres from the city and is one of the ancient natural lakes. This natural lake gives room for more than a few practices, including water sports, fishing, and watching the birds. Qaroun Lake is the second largest lake in Egypt after Nasser Lake. It is also home to rare species of birds, animals, and reptiles. Besides, it spills into the Wadi Rayan Protected Area as its primary source, forming waterfalls and cascades.

Tunis Village

It seems like this city owns multiple places that many people are unaware of. Tunis Village is one of those places. This village is a drowsy rural community that the oasis embraces. However, that does not make it a boring place, for it has an astonishingly blooming art scene. Around the village lies Mohamed Abla Art Center, an attraction for art gurus. The centre provides courses in different art disciplines like pottery, painting, and photography. Pottery is the most significant course in this art centre; it is all around the city.

The reason behind the significance of pottery dates back to an old story that took place in the early 60’s. To be more precise, in 1962, an Egyptian poet and his Swiss wife arrived in Tunis Village. They were fond of the place and decided to build their own house. Since they were both into art, they also built a workshop for teaching pottery. The couple believed that the city needed to learn about this art and teach it to generations after. Interestingly, their decision helped support the tourism economy around the area. The art centre attracts people from different cultures.

Qasr El-Sagha

The word “Qasr” actually means Palace. However, this building was mainly a temple. It was small in size, but it extends to Gebel Qatrani. Oblique corners hold the temple together, and the structure has no cement. The temple is, in point of fact, uninscribed, so there is no evidence to refer us to its history. Its story is mysterious regarding the builder, who it belonged to, its function, and when the construction was. On the other hand, the temple makes its way to the Petrified Forest, another fascinating yet frightening place in Al Fayoum. It also overlooks Qaroun Lake and Qatrani Mountain. Recently, a German-Polish archaeological mission is investigating the site, claiming it dates back to the Middle Kingdom.

Qatrani Mountain

Qatrani Mountain is another landmark in the area. People call it in Arabic as Gebal Qatrani, which is 350 meters high. It lies in the Western Desert and is rich in fossils. The mountain is sandstones that make up a high structure. It is also one of the significant destinations for hikers and those who embark on impulsive journeys.

The Petrified Forest of Fayoum

We have already mentioned the existence of this forest; you can see or reach it through Qasr El-Sagha. More accurately, the forest lies in the northern part of Qaroun Lake and close to Qatrani Mountain. The most exciting thing about this forest is that it’s the largest petrified one in the world. It houses multiple trees that reach up to 40 meters in height. They have been around for thousands of years. Sadly, the forest is not as it used to be; you can see only the fossilized remains now. But the trees and their trunks are still there. Visitors can watch the growth patterns of the trees as well. This area has exceptionally high oxygen levels, escorting the forest to grow rapidly in a short time.

Pigeon Towers

You’ll be familiar with seeing towers of pigeons while in Egypt. It is a tradition that Egyptians love keeping until our day; however, not everyone understands this custom. Egyptians do not keep those pigeons in the tower as pets. Conversely, they feed them, and the pigeons return to the same place for food. Those towers are tall structures where agricultural settlements surround them.

Qasr Qaroun

Qasr Qaroun is the Arabic equivalent of Qaroun’s Palace. Since the oasis is a place for impulsive travellers, Qasr Qaroun serves an excellent purpose for them. It was the focal point of which the hiking and rambling started and ended. The palace lies across the Western Desert, and people use caravans to hike to Bahareya Oasis.

Inside the palace lies Dionysus temple, an ancient temple that belonged to the Ptolemaic era. Ancient Egyptians built the temple as a dedication to the God Sobek and worshipped that divine figure there. People show interest in this landmark as it showcases an annual miracle. The temple is very dark inside; people can barely see anything. On 21 December each year, the Wonder of the Sun takes place. It is an astronomical pharaonic miracle where the sun gets at the perfect angle to lighten the temple from the insides. It’s the only time people get inside the temple and behold the history lying within its walls.

Karanis (Kom Oshim)

In the third century B.C., the Ptolemies built the largest Greco-Roman city. This city was Karanis or Kom Oshim, according to the Egyptians. The city was mainly an agricultural settlement that maintained farming. Besides, the Roman soldiers used to retire and settle in that city. This area is no longer a whole city like it once was. Instead, only two temples remain there, along with a museum. One temple is a shrine for worshipping Sobek, the Crocodile gods. On the other hand, the second temple was mainly a Roman bath. Finally, the museum shows a wide array of artistic stuff and more that the site holds. This includes pottery, glassware, and jewellery.

Gabal El-Medawara

Gabal El Medawara is a mountain. It offers terrific scenery since it overlooks the Magic Lake. That is probably why some people refer to it as Magic Mountain. This mountain sits right beside Wadi El Rayan and Qaroun Lake. It is the perfect place for almost every taste. For example, nature lovers would love it since it provides room for amazing photos. On the other hand, it is an excellent option for hiking and camping. Travelers who camp and hike there will also realize it’s a perfect spot for gazing at the stars at night.

Magic Lake

It is the lake that the Magic Mountain overlooks. The Magic Lake is one of the most stunning lakes in Al Fayoum; it overlooks the incredible scenery of dunes. People usually go there to freshen up after a long hike; they enjoy watching the marvellous sunsets and the birds.

Al-Nazla Pottery Village

Remember the Egyptian poet and his Swiss wife, who built the pottery art centre? Their plan to make pottery-making an everyday activity in Al Fayoum succeeded. Not only is the area popular with this activity, but it also has a village dedicated to this art. This place is Al Nazla Pottery Village, which some call the Village of the Potters. Residents of this area still hand-make the pottery; you can purchase these items or watch their making process live. They also fire the pottery in ovens that are near the area. Over and beyond, the village is also incredibly picturesque; it has many attractive landmarks to enjoy.

St. Gabriel Monastery

Aur was a Coptic Christian Bishop who existed during the 4th century. He was the one who built Saint Gabriel Monastery in Al Fayoum. This monastery was dedicated to Archangel Gabriel; the structure underwent reconstruction several times. It is famous for its wood-panel paintings and is one of the most noticeable attractions around the oasis.

Dimet El-Sebaa

Dimet El Sebaa was a stop station where traders of caravans headed for rest before reaching the Western Desert. It sits about three kilometres away from Qaroun Lake. It also houses the ruins of some Greek constructions that used to exist around the area. In this location, archaeologists discovered two head sculptures of lions in 2012. They predicted that Egypt has too many treasures that are probably still undiscovered. Ever since this discovery, the area became famous as an avenue of lions. The word Sebaa means Lions in English as well. The Ptolemaics were this area’s builders and seem to have left plenty of artefacts behind. Visitors and travellers have access to the place; however, they are not allowed to remove any of the artefacts.

Obelisk of Senusret

Senusret seemed to have had many structures that belonged to him in Al Fayoum. Sources also claim that he was an active builder. The Obelisk is one of those structures. It is a structure made of red granite and is almost 13 meters tall. His activities include placing Obelisks all around Egypt; some exist in Cairo in the district of Heliopolis.

Activities To Do In Al Fayoum City

The city contains plenty of attraction sites that people can enjoy. It has also been famous for several activities that travellers always enjoy doing. These activities include hiking, camping, stargazing, camel trekking, sandboarding, fishing, horseback riding, and bird-watching.

So, whenever Egypt becomes your destination, do not miss the chance to visit the most attractive cities, such as Fayoum.

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