Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this post, at no extra cost to you.

What Is Egypt Known for & Famous For

Egypt holds some of the most glorious and well-preserved monuments of history. Its rich cultural heritage has made it one of the foremost archaeologically-rich countries in existence. Famed for its Pyramids and preserved temples, deserts, and rich Islamic education, Egypt is arguably one of the most exciting places to visit.

Egypt is known for the Pyramids of Giza, immense outdoor exhibits and museums, and its unique preservation of ancient kingdoms gone by. Famous for the Nile River and all it offers, Egypt has dominated historical landscapes for thousands of years.

This article will go through all the most interesting aspects of Egyptian history and society. We’ll discuss the ancient kingdoms that have been safeguarded for many centuries, the monuments to its incredible past, and many other gorgeous attractions to see and experiences to enjoy in Egypt.

Giza Pyramids

The Pyramids of Giza are arguably the most well-known of all archeological shrines. A magnificent mausoleum of the ancient Kings and Queens of the ancient world, it contained some of the largest constructions ever existed for many thousands of years.

Back in the world of ancient Egypt, burial in the tombs of Giza was a high honor, cherished by Pharaohs and their families. The honor was often bestowed upon favored members of the governments and their blood relatives as well. 

Although the Pyramids of Giza are the most prominent constructions we can still see today, there were other structures built around them that included temples and tombs.

Evidence suggests that these vast monuments to the Pharaohs were actually constructed by upper-class workers, despite the popular misconception that enslaved people may have built them.

The Sphinx

The Sphinx, a structure of a lion with the head of a Pharaoh, is a vast limestone statue that can be traced back to Khafre, a Pharaoh from 2575 BCE.

It was carved in its entirety from one single piece of stone. Interestingly, nobody knows what it was initially called, and the name ‘sphinx’ was derived from Greek. The word describes a mythical creature whose only deterioration is the absence of a nose.

The one-of-a-kind limestone structure continues to impress archeologists to this day with its remarkable longevity.

Khan al-Khalili

If you’re a lover of markets, Khan al-Khalili is a real gem, located over an old burial ground of the Caliphs of 900 AD in central Cairo. The market is full of the most beautiful trinkets, jewelry, spices, carpets, and anything else you can think of.

It began its journey as a commercial center back in the 14th century and consists of miniature, winding alleyways with hundreds of different shops and performing acts that illicit tips throughout the streets.

The Egyptian Museum

As one of the foremost archaeological centers globally, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo presents a vast array of artifacts and antiquities from ancient Egypt and beyond. Most of the sarcophagi of ancient Kings of Egypt are located in the EMC.

Located in Tahrir Square, central Cairo, the museum includes some of the most valued pieces of jewelry taken from the tombs of the Pyramids and other ancient mausoleums.

To maintain Egypt’s cultural heritage and identity, the museum was created after a law passed in 1835 made the export of cultural objects illegal.

Luxor City

Luxor is a word that means ‘palaces,’ which is precisely what lies in Luxor city. This is the most prominent outdoor museum in existence and features the preserved remains of ancient Egyptian life from the Old Kingdoms of the land.

Thousands of years ago, the city was considered a hub of religious life, and the many temples that line its streets are dedicated to a vast array of Egyptian Gods.

The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been since the late 1970s. The area is constantly being explored and discovered, with archaeological expeditions slowly uncovering more and more of Egypt’s fascinating history.

Luxor Temple

In one of the longest architectural endeavors in history, Luxor Temple took centuries to build, since it was constantly being improved, renovated, and remodeled depending on the Pharaoh of the time.

Culturally, Luxor Temple was possibly the most important bastion of religious enterprise in the ancient world. Sitting out close to the Nile River, it’s still used today as a prominent spiritual location.

Aswān

Aswān, an essential strategic hub of ancient Egypt, branches off the banks of the Nile. It has always been of great military significance to the country, and it’s bordered by the vibrant homes of the Nubians across its riverfront.

Aswān was a landmark associated with the tensions between the Nubians and the ancient Egyptians. A mark of differentiation between the two societies (however similar they may have been), the town has now blossomed into an integral part of the Egyptian tourism industry.

Nubia

Home to some of the ancient nomadic tribes of Africa, Nubia is named after the people who lived there many thousands of years ago. These lands were linked to the irrigation systems created by the Nile River, and as such, it became a fruitful and fertile land for settlers.

It’s said that the region became populated by humans around 5000 BCE. This makes it potentially one of the oldest areas of civilization known to man.

The tensions between the Nubians and the ancient Egyptians were multifold, but Aswān acted as a barrier between the two societies. We don’t know very much about the societies that lived there before 300 AD since they didn’t appear to have a culture of writing and record-taking. Luckily, we do have access to ancient Egyptian records that mention the Nubians – however biased they may have been.

Kushari, Foul, and Ta’amiya

Of all the glorious dishes associated with Egyptian cuisine, Kushari, Foul, and Ta’amiya are the most traditional – and popular.

Kushari dates back a couple of hundred years and uses noodles and beans to make a stew that families now enjoy at the end of every month.

Foul is another popular dish and comes in many variations throughout the Middle East. Foul’s primary ingredient is dried fava beans, a traditional breakfast staple in Egypt.

Lastly, Ta’amiya, another everyday breakfast staple, is a form of falafel. Many countries across the Middle East eat falafel, but Egyptians spice theirs up by using dried fava beans and chickpeas.

Fava beans are likely the most commonly-eaten food in Egypt since it’s inexpensive and easy to source compared to meats and other types of food.

The White Desert National Park

With an area spanning over 100 square miles (258 square kilometers), the White Desert National Park is situated in the Sahara Desert. It is famous for its beautiful geological structures that glisten white in the subset. Made of white stones and crystals such as quartz and limestone, these structures stretch out of the desert and can be seen glimmering for miles around.

The hot, arid stretch of desert in Egypt is broken up by crystal formations in the sand that stretches into the bowels of the Farafra.

The Nile River

If you’ve heard of Egypt, you’ve most likely heard of the Nile River. One of the longest rivers in the world, the Nile is home to some of the most prominent early cultures on the earth. Its irrigation potential and life-giving fertility have allowed ancient Egyptians and others to prosper perched on the edges of its waters.

It has always been part of essential trading systems, and the ancient Egyptians and Nubians, among other cultures, used it to dispel the harsh realities of living in the desert.

Flowing through seven notable African regions, the Nile River has been cultivated for many centuries, bringing life to an otherwise arid region.

Alexandria

Founded by and named after Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, Alexandria is a port city that holds a prominent place in the hearts of the early Christians living in Egypt.

Many of the oldest temples that used to be situated in this city were knocked down in favor of Christianity; therefore, so many of the remnants of early Alexandria have been lost to the sands of time. However, several places of Christian worship have been built on the backs of pagan temples, whose structures can still be seen today.

Before it became Alexandria, the city was once a small province named Rhakotis.

The Red Sea

Famous for its briny waters and warm temperatures, the Red Sea is home to a bizarre species of algae that produce the water’s red coloring.

Mentioned in the Bible numerous times, the Red Sea is a pinnacle of biblical thought and ancient philosophy. Nowadays, the area is used as a trading route between continents.

Egyptian Cotton

You may know Egyptian Cotton because of the sheets on your bed. This rare (and expensive) type of cotton can only grow in very warm, dry areas, so Egypt is the most prominent farmer of the substance. Ancient Egyptians were growing cotton since 2500 BCE, so it has been a staple of Egyptian farming for many generations.

Egyptian Cotton is classified as an ELS fiber, making it top-quality and extremely long-lasting – not to mention exquisitely soft.

Religious Sites

Egypt and its cultural heritage hold significant meaning for Christians and Muslims alike. Although Christians make up only about 10% of the Egyptian population, Egypt has strong Christian roots leading back to biblical times – and the presence of Mount Sinai and its surrounding religious sites have significant importance to the Egyptian people.

Most of the Egyptian population is Sunni Muslim, so there are many beautiful mosques and Islamic monuments throughout the country. For example, the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo, constructed in the 12th century AD, is hailed as the most important Islamic location in all of Egypt. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful Islamic monuments in Egypt.

The mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, also located in Cairo, is the oldest-known mosque in Egypt and still bears much of its original architectural features.

The Pharaonic Village

If you’re planning a trip to Egypt, the Pharaonic Village is a must-see. Stepping back to the gilded wonders of ancient Egypt, the center allows people to experience an ancient classical world of the Pharaohs.

In this village, you’ll encounter agricultural practices of the time, examples of mummification, and old temples that reflect the religious convictions of the ancient Egyptians.

Just a short drive from Cairo, the Pharaonic Village even has a full-sized model of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, the child King of the ancient world.

Traditional Egyptian Sufi Dance

Sufism has become a cultural getaway for many Egyptians, and there are still 74 orders still in existence in the country. Their traditions include a vast array of fantastic dances, complete with traditional dress and stories of the link between the earth and the heavens.

The traditional Egyptian Sufi dance is called the Tanoura and is a variation of a similar dance that originated in Turkey. The eclectic dancers wear colorful costumes and wide skirts while they twirl, telling old folklore stories that resonate with Egyptian culture and tradition.

Belly Dancing Originated Here

The Tanoura isn’t the only dance that Egyptians enjoy. Belly dancing also came from Egypt, and a troupe of gypsies, called the Ghawazee, brought belly dancing to cultural occasions in the 1700s.

Traditionally a very social dance, belly dancing is often associated with wedding celebrations and gatherings of women in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

Cairo

Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, is a congested, overcrowded city of beauty and chaos. If you’ve ever been to Cairo, you’ll know the deep, throaty sounds of Muezzins calling their people to pray and the cacophony of shouting vendors on the streets below.

Cairo is known for its eclectic cultural and historic atmosphere and its location on the Nile River. The city is one of the most overcrowded cities globally due to the influx of refugees from neighboring countries.

Invention of the 365 Day Calendar

We can thank the ancient Egyptians for our calendar since they were the first to create a system of time based on the movement of the moon and the stars. The Egyptians initially split the year into three separate periods, with four months in every period.

Ancient Egyptian farmers and other agricultural workers used this calendar to keep track of their crops for many generations.

Football

We know the ancient Egyptians were big football fans because of drawings discovered on temple walls. Football was probably one of many sports they enjoyed, but their legacy has continued to this day, and Egypt now has an avid football fan base.

Egypt has a recent history of division and conflict, so football helps build a bridge between communities – and, naturally, the Egyptian football team has been named Pharaohs.

Sakkara

A huge mausoleum of the ancient Egyptians, Saqqarah has been an essential part of the preservation of history for many thousands of years.

Located not far from Cairo, Saqqarah contains many tomb-like structures that would have housed the Pharaohs of the first dynasties of the ancient Egyptians. The area stretches right to the brink of the desert and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Dahshur

Close to the city of Memphis – ancient Egypt’s capital city – Dahshur is a similar area to Saqqarah and contains cemeteries from ages gone by. Kings and Queens were buried in these Pyramid structures – most famously, the Bent Pyramid.

The Bent Pyramid is the earliest known Pyramid built by the Egyptians. Its construction was completed by Senefru, a Pharaoh of the 4th dynasty. This Pyramid sets itself apart from the rest due to its odd angles – arguably a mistake made by Egyptian builders at the time. 

Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple is located in the glorious palaces of Luxor city and was finally finished in the 20th dynasty of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The temple was discovered in the 1800s by Napoleonic excavators and was hailed for its beautiful details and well-preserved structure.

A vast array of Gods were worshiped at this temple, and many of the details of the Gods are inscribed on temple walls – making it an incredibly fascinating physical timeline of the religious fervor of the ancient Egyptians.

To date, Karnak Temple is the biggest and most intricate religious edifice ever to be built.

Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is the name given to the vast area where the pyramids have sat for many centuries. It refers to the many Kings and Queens buried under its grounds over the generations.

The Valley is located to the west of the Nile. Egyptian nobility were buried here until 1070 BCE, and it’s hailed as the most glorious and opulent cemetery in the world.

UNESCO Heritage Sites

Egypt is known for its vast range of UNESCO Heritage Sites, with its well-preserved archaeological wonders and incredible insights into the Old and New Kingdoms of ancient Egypt. Here are a few of the most prominent UNESCO Heritage Sites in the country:

Abu Mena

A monastic city constructed as allegiance to Menas of Alexandria, Abu Mena is a deteriorating site with wonders of early Christianity etched into its stones.

Unfortunately, due to poorly-thought out irrigation systems in the next village, Abu Mena is in danger of disappearing entirely – and its secrets and treasures will go down with it. Extensive renovations are taking place to preserve the integrity of this beautiful monastic city, so it’s temporarily off-limits to the public.

Ancient Thebes With Its Necropolis

Ancient Thebes is the old name for Luxor city and was once the bastion of religious culture in the New Kingdom, which ended in 1069 BCE.

Thebes is home to Sphinx Avenue – a vast road stretching through the city at almost 3,000 meters (9,842 feet).

Historic Cairo

Cairo as a whole is a beautiful city, but historic Cairo has been around since 969 BCE, commissioned and built by the Fatimid Caliphate. The secrets of historic Cairo lie in its ancient structures that are now being renovated by the Egyptian government to preserve the integrity of past builds and structures in conjunction with modern needs.

Memphis & Its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields From Giza to Dahshur

Memphis was the center of the Old Kingdom until 2200 BCE and contains all the pyramids of Egypt in one vast stretch of land. It helped make Egypt what it is today, and embedded in its history are the many remnants of temples, cemeteries, and monuments to Kings.

Nubian Monuments From Abu Simbel to Philae

The most incredible thing about these ancient monuments is that they were completely removed from their original spot and pieced back together to save them from being destroyed by rising waters. Their structures were preserved, completed intact, and now can be seen across a span of 280 kilometers (173 miles).

These Temples include the Sanctuary of Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility.

Saint Catherine Area

This gorgeous monastic site has a prominent location atop Mount Sinai in the Sinai peninsula. Today, it’s still a functioning Greek Orthodox site and has a symbiotic relationship with the Bedouin travelers who reside in the deserts nearby.

This monastery has an incredible treasure trove of ancient manuscripts and original icons, preserved intact for many hundreds of years.

Since the monastery is still in its original form and has never been torn down and rebuilt, you can see elements of a past Egypt in its construction.

Wadi al-Hitan (Whale Valley)

We are constantly learning new facts about the origins of human civilization, and Wadi al-Hitan has given us significant clues that were hailed as some of the most important findings so far.

The valley holds the preserved skeletal remains of whales with hind legs – giving us clues as to how they evolved from walking to swimming creatures. These whales (archaeoceti) have been extinct for many thousands of years, and they were most likely preserved under a bed of water that used to reside in the valley.

Large Population

Egypt has a vast population, and considering most of the country takes up only about 4% of land, you can imagine how overpopulated the cities are. It’s now being called a crisis, and the population could easily hit almost 130 million by 2030 if controls are not put in place to stop the rapid population growth.

Hot Climate

Egypt has immense swathes of arid desert, so the climate is typically scorching hot. Rainfall tends to be pretty scarce in most of the country – save for the shoreline creeping across the Mediterranean sea – so the Nile River holds significant irrigation power in the communities.

However, there are a few cold spots in the mountains during the winter season as well.

Desert Landscape

The deserts of Egypt are more like giant outdoor museums than deserts, given the vast archaeological potential contained there. However, wandering tribes that have lived there for many generations still reside in the deserts, traveling between water sources the same way they would have done many centuries ago.

Friendly People

Egypt – as well as other Middle Eastern countries – is well-known for its friendly population. Celebrated for their hospitality and generosity, Egyptians would go above and beyond for any traveler exploring their world.

Although there are good and bad people everywhere, Egypt is largely full of family-oriented, lovable people who are proud of their heritage and will often open their homes to strangers.

Egyptian Culture

Much of Egypt’s culture is embedded in religious fervor and community relationships. Egyptians tend to use both the Roman calendar and the Islamic calendar.

Most Egyptians emphasize familial relationships and community bonds, so spending time with your neighbors and knowing the name of your local butcher is thought of as especially important.

Additionally, food is a large part of Egyptian culture since food sharing is thought to be a bridge between people.

Egyptian Cuisine

Egyptian cuisine is a mish-mash of cold and hot mezze such as hummus, fatteh, and baba ghanoush. One of their most popular dishes is kamounia, a thick and glorious brew of slow-cooked beef chunks and cumin seeds.

Since many communities live close to the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea, they also love their seafood.

Straddles Border of Africa & the Middle East

Egypt has always been a corner of trade due to its geographical location and access to waterways such as the Nile and the Suez Canal. Based on the crossroads of two civilizations, it mixes the culture of the African Nations with Middle Eastern Islamic traditions, creating a unique blend of traditions.

Suez Canal

The all-important Suez Canal has been a disputed trade route for centuries. It stretches from the south to the north and connects Africa with Europe and the Indian Ocean.

The channel is constantly monitored since cargo freights and trade ships travel through it day and night.

Is Predominantly Islamic Country

Most of the Muslims in Egypt are Sunni, with a very tiny minority of residents of the Shia sect of Islam. Since religion sits at the very center of Egyptian life, Egypt is now known as the bastion of Islamic education and learning. Culture in the country is set around the traditions associated with Islam and its history.

Cairo Gold Crash

The age-old story of Mansa Musa and his charitable donations to Cairo is well documented. In the 1300s, Musa performed a hajj (the Arabic word for pilgrimage) to Mecca and left gold in copious amounts in Cairo. Famously, it is said that his thoughtful donations caused the crash of the market economy in the country, an impact that took a decade to recover from.

Conclusion

Egypt is a place of wonder and intrigue. With countless precious pieces of history sliced through each corner of the country, its heritage is perhaps more decadent than any other nation in the world.

Sources