Matobo Hills, also known as Matopos, is a region of granite hills and kopjes (rocky hills) located in the southeast of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, steeped in history and tradition. Some believe that these hills are haunted by the spirits of long-dead Ndebele chiefs. In these hills, you’ll find a tapestry of cultural and natural wonders. The name “Matobo” itself has various interpretations, with some suggesting it means “the rocks” (matombe or madombe), while others contend it signifies “bald heads” (matobo). Regardless of its etymology, Matobo Hills stands as a geological marvel. Erosion, shaped by the flow of rivers, has given rise to stunning rock formations and deep valleys, forming a landscape that spans an area of about 1,200 square miles and reaches an average height of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). The region covers approximately 3,100 square kilometers and is characterized by a unique landscape of balancing rocks, granite domes, and wooded valleys. Here are some key points about Matobo Hills:
Historic Cairo, often referred to as Islamic Cairo or Old Cairo, is a captivating district within Egypt’s capital city that holds centuries of history, culture, and architectural marvels. It is a living testament to the city’s rich past and showcases a blend of ancient and Islamic influences. Historic Cairo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its exceptional collection of monuments, buildings, and structures that reflect Egypt’s Islamic heritage. The district has been inhabited for over a thousand years and holds a treasure trove of historical and cultural significance. Some of the most iconic landmarks within Historic Cairo include the Al-Azhar Mosque, one of the world’s oldest universities; the Sultan Hassan Mosque, known for its stunning Mamluk architecture; and the beautiful Al-Rifa’i Mosque. In addition to Islamic influences, Historic Cairo is home to Coptic Cairo, which includes churches, monasteries, and the Coptic Museum. This area reflects the historical presence of Egypt’s Christian community.
The Great Sphinx of Giza is an iconic and enigmatic monument located on the Giza Plateau, near Cairo, Egypt. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt and an integral part of the Giza Necropolis, which also includes the famous Pyramids of Giza. The Sphinx is located near the Pyramids of Giza, and its precise purpose remains a subject of debate among historians and Egyptologists. It is often thought to have been built as a guardian statue for the pyramids and their associated complexes. The combination of the lion’s body and the pharaoh’s head in the Sphinx carries symbolic significance. The lion represents strength and power, while the pharaoh’s head represents divine authority and rulership. The Sphinx is famously missing its nose, which is believed to have been damaged or destroyed by various factors over the centuries. Here are some facts about the Great Sphinx of Giza:
The Great Pyramid of Giza is a key component of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as “Memphis and its Necropolis—the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur.” This remarkable site is situated at the heart of the Nile’s western floodplain in Egypt. It encompasses various ancient ruins, including the Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara, Dahshur, Abu Ruwaysh, and Abusir. In 1979, UNESCO collectively recognized these sites as a World Heritage site. The Great Pyramid of Giza holds a special place within this complex. It stands as the largest Egyptian pyramid and served as the monumental tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, who ruled during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Constructed in the early 26th century BC, over a span of approximately 27 years, this pyramid is not only the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but also the sole wonder that has remained largely intact through the ages.
The Valley of the Queens, also known as Biban el-Harim in Arabic, is a significant archaeological site located on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt. It is situated near the Valley of the Kings and is renowned for being the burial place of many queens, princesses, and other members of the royal families of ancient Egypt. This site, part of the ancient Theban Necropolis in Egypt, shares UNESCO World Heritage status with neighboring sites like the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, and Karnak, a recognition received in 1979. It served as the final resting place for queens and select royal children during the 19th and 20th dynasties of ancient Egypt, spanning from 1292 to 1075 BC. Here are some key points about the Valley of the Queens:
The Valley of the Kings is a famous archaeological site located on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt. It is renowned for being the burial place of many pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom period of ancient Egypt, approximately from the 16th to the 11th century BCE. This area is part of the broader Ancient Thebes, along with Luxor, Karnak, and the Valley of the Queens, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The Valley of the Kings continues to be a site of great historical and archaeological importance, shedding light on the beliefs and practices of ancient Egypt. It remains a symbol of the grandeur and mystery of this ancient civilization. Here are some key facts about the Valley of the Kings:
Memphis and its Necropolis go south from the Giza plateau, through Zawyet Elarian, Abu Ghurab, Abusir, Mit Rahina, and Saqqara, and north as far as Dahshur.
Abu Mena is an Egyptian UNESCO site with the remains of a church, monasteries, houses, and workshops built on the tomb of Saint Menas of Alexandria.
Whale Valley, also known as Wadi Al-Hitan, stands as a remarkable paleontological site in the Faiyum Governorate of Egypt. Not only is it recognized for its breathtaking desert landscapes, but, more importantly, it holds a treasure trove of fossils, particularly those of ancient whales. The fossils found here are of paramount significance, offering insights into the evolutionary journey of whales from land-dwelling mammals to marine creatures. The region’s geological formations, rich in sandstone and limestone, showcase the remnants of an ancient sea. The valley itself is named after the Basilosaurus, an 18-meter-long whale, with the fossils revealing spines on its tail and the remains of sea creatures in its stomach. Whale Valley provides a unique window into the past, where ancient whales like the Basilosaurus traversed the waters. Over 390 whale fossils from various species, dating back around 40 million years, have been unearthed at the site. Here’s a detailed overview:
St. Catherine's, an Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The Old Testament says Moses obtained the Tablets of the Law here.
Philae Temple is one of the most interesting old places to visit in Egypt, on Philae Island, which was a holy place for the Isis cult for thousands of years.
Ramesses II built Abu Simbel temple complex around 1264–1244 BC. Great Temple for himself, while the Small Temple honors his most important wife, Queen Nefertari