After Egypt's mummies parade: top five sites to visit

All you need to know about travel restrictions when planning your trip to Egypt's ancient and modern landmarks

The world tuned in on Saturday to watch with fascination the procession of 22 mummies through Cairo on climate-controlled floats decorated with wings and symbols associated with ancient Egypt's pharaohs.

The preserved remains of 18 kings and four queens made their way through Egypt's capital, moving in order of the oldest first, in a multimillion-dollar event intended to draw attention to the country's ancient heritage.

It also showed Egypt's world-leading tourist potential to a global audience, with the coronavirus pandemic causing losses to the industry of about $1 billion a month.

The mummies were relocated from Cairo's Egyptian Museum to the new National Egyptian Museum of Civilisation (NMEC) in the historic city of Al Fustat, now part of Cairo, built after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 641.

The procession for the five-kilometre journey was accompanied by artistic performances staged at Egypt's ancient landmarks, from where pharaohs had ruled from their thrones in magnificent temples.

Here are the top five landmarks in Egypt that should be on any traveller's list:

Hatshepsut's Temple of Deir El Bahri 

B11WH0 Deir el Bahri or Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, West Bank, Luxor, Nile Valley, Egypt. Image shot 05/2008. Exact date unknown.

The Deir El Bahri Temple Complex includes one of the most beautiful temples in the world, built by the architects of the New Kingdom ruler Pharaoh Hatshepsut, in the 15th century BC.

Three colonnaded terraces were built within a steep half-circle of cliffs on the west bank of the Nile River, guarding the entrance to the great Valley of the Kings.

The walls of the temple are illustrated with Hatshepsut's autobiography, including stories of her fabled trip to the land of Punt, considered by some scholars to have been in the modern countries of Eritrea or Somalia.

Hatshepsut's  temple was damaged after her reign ended, when her successor, Thutmose III, had her name and images chiselled off the walls.

Additional damage was done to the temple at the orders of the 18th Dynasty heretic Akhenaten, whose faith tolerated only images of the Sun god Aten.

Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara

Egyptian security officers man their station across from the step pyramid of Djoser at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, on January 17, 2021. - Egypt announced the discovery of a new trove of treasures at the necropolis which lies 30kms south of the capital, including the funerary temple of Queen Naert, wife of King Teti, as well as burial shafts, coffins, and mummies dating back to nearly 3000 years ago during the New Kingdom. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Saqqara, south of Cairo, was the necropolis of ancient Memphis. It contains the  remains of several pyramids from the 5th and 6th Dynasties and the famous Step Pyramid, the earliest true pyramid in Egypt, built for King Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty, in about 2630BC, by his prime minister Imhotep.

The entire structure was originally covered with a casing of fine white limestone and had a granite burial vault beneath the pyramid's centre.

When discovered, the vault was sealed with a granite plug weighing about 3.5 tonnes, but ancient looters had been able to enter the tomb, making off with the king's treasures.

Mummy fragments were found in the vault in modern times, but carbon-dating indicated that they were from a much later date than the reign of Djoser.

Giza pyramids and the Sphinx 

A picture taken on November 20, 2019 shows the Sphinx at the Giza Pyramids plateau on the western outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Constructed between 2589 and 2504BC, the pyramids of pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure are a testament to ancient planning and architecture.

The pyramids were originally encased in white limestone, most of which has been lost.

Despite differences in size and mass, the south-east tips of each pyramid align together almost precisely.

Each pyramid had a mortuary and valley temple, with a causeway connecting them.

They also had smaller pyramids referred to as satellite or queens' pyramids.

In the case of Khafre's pyramid, near his valley temple is an enigmatic reclining limestone monumental statue, the Great Sphinx of Giza, with an uncompleted temple dedicated to it.

The face of the Sphinx, a mythical creature, is generally believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre. It is the oldest-known monumental sculpture in Egypt and is commonly believed to have been designed, sculpted and constructed during Khafre's reign, between about 2558BC and 2532 BC.

The National Egyptian Museum of Civilisation

People visit Egypt's new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC), in the Fustat district of Old Cairo, during its official reopening a day after the Pharaohs' Golden Parade ceremony, on April 4, 2021. - The NMEC which opened its doors to limited exhibits from 2017, opens fully a day after the "Pharaohs' Golden Parade", but the mummies go on display to the general public two weeks later. (Photo by Mahmoud KHALED / AFP)

This is the new home to the 22 mummies that were the stars of the procession of pharaohs. The NMEC opened its doors to visitors on April 4. Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that tickets will be sold at half price for a month.

The Gallery of Royal Mummies, however, will open on April 18.

The NMEC is the first museum to be devoted to the entirety of Egyptian civilisation.

Designed by Egyptian architect El Ghazzali Kosseiba, the NMEC  displays Egyptian civilisation from prehistoric times to the present day, with its core permanent exhibition devoted to the achievements of Egyptian civilisation.

It features six thematic galleries covering: the Dawn of Civilisation, The Nile, Writing, State and Society, Material Culture, Beliefs and Thinking and the Gallery of Royal Mummies.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization Zurab Pololikashvili addreses a press conference in front of  the 3,200-year-old pink-granite colossal statue of King Ramses II at the entrance of the the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), in Giza on the southwestern outskirts of the capital on August 25, 2020. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Egypt will inaugurate the Grand Egyptian Museum (Gem) near the Giza pyramids in the coming months, which may house the mummy of the most famous pharaoh, Tutankhamun.

Located only two kilometres from the pyramids, Gem will be the largest archaeological museum complex in the world and home to more than 100,000 artefacts. For the first time, King Tut's entire treasure collection will be on display, alongside artefacts from pre-historic times, through Egypt's thousands of years of pharaonic civilisation and ancient Greek and Roman periods of Egyptian history.

Egypt open to visitors

Egypt is open to tourism and the government is now issuing visas. Travellers from 46 countries can quickly obtain their eVisa to enter Egyptian territory.

Visitors should check they meet all the Egypt eVisa requirements before proceeding with the application.

The International Air Transport Association has stated that everyone who arrives at the Egyptian border must have a health declaration form completed and signed. This form will be given to visitors upon arrival to be completed and submitted to immigration.

Most travellers to Egypt must have a negative PCR test certificate for Covid-17, taken a maximum of 72 hours before their flight departure.

Exceptions are people travelling from Japan, China, Thailand, North America, South America, Canada, plus London Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt airports. They are allowed to provide a PCR certificate obtained up to 96 hours prior to flight departure, due to long travel times and transit periods.

Travellers must present paper copies of the PCR test results; digital copies will not be accepted.

Those arriving directly at Hurghada, Sharm Al Sheikh and Marsa Al Alam airports without a printed PCR test will be tested upon their arrival, at their own expense.

All children under the age of six are exempt from PCR testing requirements.

Incoming tourists must show proof of health insurance upon arrival.

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