The Siwa Oasis is situated in the Western Desert . It is Egypt's most remote oasis town and the Siwans have developed their own distinct Berber culture. Siwans speak their own language and their jewellery and crafts are exquisite. A decent road and a small airport have certainly put the Siwa Oasis on the tourist map but it is still off the beaten track. As well as its unique culture, the Siwa oasis is known for its geographical beauty, hot springs and the fact that Alexander the Great traveled here to visit the Oracle of Amun.
It's a wonderful place to relax, swim and eat some olives. The old town of Siwa dates back to the 13th century and its mud and brick architecture looks gnarled and quite unique. See the Siwans own web site for more information on how to get there, where to stay and what to do.
The historic town of Siwa stands on an isolated oasis situated in the Western Desert region of Egypt, approximately 550 km west of the capital Cairo, 305 km south-west of Marsa Matruh and some 50 km from the border with Libya. Extending some 80 km in length and 20 km in width, the oasis is one of the most isolated settlements in the country. Siwa nonetheless holds a special appeal for many travelers on account of its isolation and unique character, its natural beauty and its historical associations. The town has a population of around 25,000.
The inhabitants of Siwa Oasis are ethnically Berber and their mother tongue is a Berber language called Siwi, though nearly all Siwis speak Arabic as a second language and many can also speak some English.
You will see
Siwa Oasis. 300,000 palm trees, 70,000 olive trees, 300 freshwater springs.
Shali. The old city.
Temple of the Oracle, (Situated on the hill of Aghurmi, about 4 km east of Siwa Town). Built in the 6th century BC, dedicated to Zmun (Zeus). Kings unsuccessfully sent armies to destroy this temple due to the power of the oracle. Visited by Alexander the Great, who asked if he was the son of Zeus. Poorly restored. Nearby village is worth a look.
Temple of Amun / Temple of Umm Ubaydah, (200m further from the Temple of the Oracle). This structure is almost completely destroyed, owing to its dynamiting in 1896 by an Ottoman governor eager to acquire building material. An inscribed wall represents all that remains to be seen. Based on earlier drawings by pioneer explorers, however, scholars have deduced that the temple was erected by the pharaoh Nectanebo of the 30th Dynasty.
Cleopatra's Bath. A natural hot spring feeds this rock pool, a popular swimming hole for locals and visitors alike.
Fatnas Spring, (6km west of Siwa town. Go past the Council Building and take a left at the first fork. Continue around the Shali and follow the signs.). Idyllic setting among palm trees and lush greenery. Great place to watch sunset. Small Cafe.
Gebel el-Mawta / Mountain of the Dead, (located about 1 km north of the centre of Siwa Town). tombs open when the guardians are present, daily 7AM-2PM (Fridays 7AM-12noon). This hill features a large number of rock cut tombs, mostly dating back to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (3rd century BCE - 2nd century CE). Make sure you see the tomb containing the 1500 year old Graeco-Roman mummies which are in excellent condition.
the Tomb of Siamun - beautifully colored reliefs
the Tomb of Mesu-Isis - contains a mummified skull
the Tomb of Niperpathot - inscriptions and drawings
the Tomb of the Crocodile - deteriorating wall paintings show a yellow crocodile
Gebel Darkur, (4km from Siwa town). Get thrown into a bath of hot sand for 20 minutes at a time then drink tea. Supposedly good for rheumatism.