The Memphis necropolis, at 20 km from Cairo, is the stunning archaeological site that is the home to several funerary edifices. Nestled on the Nile’s west bank, this is where you will come across rock mausoleums, old temples, big pyramids, and detailed mastabas. In its peak days, Memphis acted as the Old Kingdom’s capital during the 3100 BC to 2200 BC. Its architectural beauty, heights of edifices, and the manner in which they were constructed made this city to rank among the Seven Wonders of the World. This is history, but its present also speaks a lot of its honor – already declared as the World Heritage site!
According to the legend, this great city was under the fortification of the craftsmen patron: god Ptah whose fantastic temple, Hut-ka-Ptah (Area of the ka of Ptah) is among the most outstanding city monuments. For the tourists, the interesting fact is that this temple name in Greek is called ‘Ai-gy-ptos’ that stands for Egypt. So, start a visit from this temple that gave the country its name.
This Great Temple of Ptah is seen as an open-air museum next to the colossus of Rameses II. Here, look for the big sphinx monolith from the 18th dynasty, statues, other sphinxes, colossi, as well as architectural elements of which many now are in the Egyptian Museum. Next, the small Temple of Ptah of Rameses II next to the above temple’s southwest corner is for the deified Rameses II, Ptah, Horus, and Amun. Here, ruins such as a tower, portico, courtyard of offerings, pillared hall, and a tripartite refuge can be seen. Go further east and you will see the Temple of Ptah and Sekhmet of Rameses dedicated to Ptah and Sekhmet (consort) along with the deified Rameses II. This one is not that majestic as the others. On the similar basis is the Temple of Ptah of Merneptah in the southeast dedicated to Ptah. This is the one that is still being excavated. So, currently, you will be only able to spot the big courtyard via a huge door of reliefs that reveal the pharaoh names as well as the epithets of Ptah.
One more worth seeing structure is the Temple of Hathor in the south of the Hout-Ka-Ptah. Made in the honor of the goddess Hathor, this one bears somewhat the styles of Karnak structures and was used processions during the sacred events. The other temples in Memphis include the Temple of Mithras, Temple of Astarte, Temple of Neith, Temple of Sekhmet, Temple of Apis (the sacred bull), Temple of Amun, and Temple of Aten. Some of the worth seeing statues are the colossal Ramses II statue, mummified slabs to hold the Apis bulls, and alabaster sphinx of King Thutmose III all of which are now kept together in a garden out there.
One of the most visited sites in Memphis is the Saqqara site for its stepped Pyramid of Djoser. As this city was very vast and highly populated, there are many necropoleis of which the most popular is Saqqara. Further, the urban zone is the home of cemeteries where Osiris was also revered.
Besides the temples as well as cemeteries, there are also palaces here of a few were erected beneath the important royal pyramids. Most of them were huge and used to hold lakes as well as parks. Look for the palace of Apries in ruins, which look over Memphis. It lies on a promontory and was once the home of a fortress, arms, and barracks.
I would suggest exploring this necropolis with a guide because of its vastness. This is because if you do not have a guide, you might miss some of the best wonders on the planet. And yes, do not in any way think of climbing a pyramid, as that has been banned for safety issues.
Be here during the sunset as everything becomes majestic here as the sky boasts pink and orange radiance.
Winter: 7:30 to 4 daily.
Summer: 7:30 to 5 daily.
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