The Egyptian city of Sakkara (or Saqqara) is famous for two things: its UNESCO designated temple complex and its hand tied carpets. In an attempt to fight illiteracy in rural Egypt, Sakkara funds a plethora of carpet-making schools. In addition to learning to read and write, children here learn the ancient art of carpet making. Their education gives them the opportunity to stay in their town and earn a good wage for a skilled trade, or continue their schooling elsewhere.
The children are eager to demonstrate how they create these beautiful carpets from delicate silk thread. The speed and precision of their fingers as they knot the colourful carpets is hard to believe and mesmerising to watch. After watching the demonstration, you’ll be welcomed into the showroom to view carpets of all shapes, sizes, and colors. You’ll be served tea and soft drinks and there is no pressure to buy, but if you do, haggling is mandatory.
Alison Cornford-Matheson traveled to Egypt courtesy of the Egypt Tourism Authority and Abercrombie & Kent. Her highlights are part of AFAR's partnership with The United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value, and freedom to enjoy destinations across the entire globe. See more about Alison's trip at the USTOA blog.
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Day Tour to Sakkara & Memphis tour
Have an exciting day tour starting at the Step Pyramid of Sakkarra proceeding to Memphis; which was the capital of Old Egypt during the Old Kingdom and is considered to be a center of rule and culture for over 3000 years the first capital of Egypt and see the Statue of Ramses II.
There's More Than Just Giza: Visit the Pyramids of Saqqara and Dahshur
Egypt is home to countless historical and cultural sights. There's so many in fact that there isn't enough time to pack everything on a short sojourn. What, with the Pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings/Queens, the beaches of Sharm El Sheikh and the winding corridors of Cairo's Khan el Khalili, it's almost impossible to choose which sights to see.
Now while the Egyptian Museum has some impressive pieces, you could spend a much more enjoyable afternoon by heading an hour south of Cairo to visit the (lesser-known) pyramids of Saqqara and Dahshur.
The Saqqara pyramids are the closest to Cairo and they are actually far older than those at Giza having been constructed between 2630 – 2611 BCE by the notorious Imhotep. The most well known structure at Saqqara is the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which is currently covered by scaffolding as archaeologists and engineers restore the structure. While you can't go inside there's a new museum and several tombs worth exploring.
Southeast of Saqqara lies the pyramid field of Dahshur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features the Red, Black and Bent pyramids. The Red Pyramid, made of rust-coloured limestone, was the tallest man-made structure in the world when it was first erected and the first successful attempt at constructing a “true” smooth-sided pyramid.
Gazing up you can’t help but wonder how people constructed such structures and built them to last. They're 100% worth the journey (and skipping the museum for)!