The ancient site of Abydos in Egypt is one of the many breathtakingly impressive necropolises, or burial grounds, that line the banks of the River Nile. A little farther north, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens tend to draw the most travelers, but that’s not to say Abydos Egypt doesn’t deserve attention. Far from it, in fact: This is one of the most important and fascinating sites Egypt has to offer.
The first recorded mention of Abydos comes from the Predynastic Period, before 3100 BC, when it was the seat of power for the rulers of the time. Over the subsequent 3,000 years it remained of vital importance to the various kingdoms of Egypt, housing and then entombing various pharaohs as eras came and went. Today, Abydos Egypt lives on in the form of the ruins that dot the landscape here, enchanting visitors from all over the world.
One of the main attractions that visitors seek out is the Temple of Seti. Seti was the father of the great Ramesses II, who oversaw the finalization of the temple’s construction following Seti’s death. This massive memorial tomb was dedicated not just to Seti but the Gods Ptah, Amun, and Osiris as well, and it consequently continued as a place of reverence long after the demise of both Seti and his son. Much of the temple is still in existence today, and it’s possible to look around its huge structures and gaze in awe at the hieroglyphics that line its walls.
Half a mile from the Temple of Seti is the Temple of Osiris. In truth, however, because the Seti temple is so large, the Temple of Osiris has come to form part of its grounds. This is another extremely integral part of the ancient city, home as it was to much of the cult worship of Osiris associated with Abydos through the ages. As with the Seti temple, the Temple of Osiris is imaginatively decorated, featuring wall paintings that date back thousands of years
Given Luxor’s close proximity, many visitors to Abydos Egypt chose to do it as a day trip, traveling from Luxor by train in the early morning and returning late at night. It’s a fun way to do things, not least because, on arrival at al-Balyana, the closest railway station, you have to haggle for a police escort to take you to the temples. Various tour agents also operate from the station and from Luxor as well though you’d be well advised to inspect their itinerary closely and compare their prices against one another. Whatever you decide to do, your time spent exploring Abydos will be limited as a return trip to Luxor inevitably looms. So make sure to take those all-important perfect shots of you standing next to the Abydos Temple before time runs out.
Luxor itself is full of great things to do for the visitor, with attractions in the city including the impressive collection at the Luxor Museum and the educational exhibits at the Mummification Museum. No matter where else you go on your Egypt vacation, it's well worth including a stop to this riverside city—you won't be disappointed.