Dendera

Small and yet impressively maintained, Dendera is an archaeological site to gaze at in wonder. With roots in Egyptian history that stretch back to 2600 BC, the Dendera Temple complex that is to be found today in the tiny town of Dendera is a true feat of human engineering. The complex includes the Temple of Hathor, which is widely held to be the best preserved temple in the entire country, which is certainly impressive, as there are plenty of temples in excellent states to be found here such as those at Abydos and Edfu.

The Dendera Temple complex spreads out over an expansive 40,000 square meters, or more than 430,000 square feet, its ruins enclosed by a solid mud brick wall. The Temple of Hathor is far and away the main attraction here; it's a hugely magnificent and magnificently huge square structure that looks every bit as ancient as it is. Inside, visitors to the Temple of Hathor explore the structure's various imposing halls and its associated necropolis. One thing that unfortunately can't be seen here is the Dendera Zodiac, for while it was initially found in this temple of Dendera, it's today displayed in full grandeur at the Louvre in Paris.

One of the best things about the Dendera Temple as it stands today is that the vast majority of the structure is open to visitor exploration. Local authorities have done well to allow tourists here a sensible amount of free reign, and as a result visitors often rank a trip to Dendera as top of their list of most enjoyable things to do while in Egypt. The site also includes such tourist provisions as a coffee shop and eatery, a bazaar for shopping, and a well-equipped visitors center that fills you in on the site's unique past.

As with the archaeological site of Abydos, Dendera is normally treated as a day trip out from Luxor, with service taxis running routes from the latter to the former and back again. Some Luxor hotels also organize tours to the site, with coaches or river boats the preferred mode of transportation. Such tours provide an eminently relaxed way of visiting the Temple of Hathor and its sister attractions, as you don't have to worry about organizing anything.

Luxor itself is one of Egypt's most dazzling of city gems. Old and teeming with character, it includes such immense sites as the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Visiting museums is another popular activity among travelers here, thanks to the impressive duo formed by the Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum. For those who want to buy gifts and souvenirs while in Egypt, Luxor also proves a haven of craftsmanship and trinkets, with its souks (markets) creating a fun and atmospheric shopping experience.

Getting to and from Luxor is no problem thanks to the city's extensive transportation network. Both Cairo (to the north) and Aswan (to the south) are regular ports of call for visitors leaving Dendera and Luxor.

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