World Monuments Fund

Monumental Journeys: Egypt

February 26 - March 5, 2023

Itinerary

Days
Hours
Minutes

Join World Monuments Fund on an extraordinary journey through Egypt, exploring WMF’s work of the past and present. On this once-in–a-lifetime adventure, travelers will receive exclusive access to historic sites in Cairo, Sohag, Abydos, and Luxor, learning firsthand the rich cultural heritage of Egypt from leading scholars, archaeologists, and preservationists. Not only will this trip feature the iconic places associated with ancient Egyptian history, but travelers will explore Coptic Christian landmarks and Islamic architecture from the fourteenth century and beyond. Travelers will also enjoy special receptions at the homes of local heritage enthusiasts and supporters, who will enhance the trip further with their knowledge of and passion for Egypt. 

DAY 1
Sunday, February 26: Arrivals in Cairo

  • Arrivals

    Individual arrivals and guests’ transfers to hotel.

  • Check In

    Four Seasons First Residence, Cairo.

  • Evening

    Join Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund, as she welcomes you to Monumental Journeys: Egypt. During this reception, travelers will get to know others in the group, along with some of the guides and scholars who will also share details about the trip.

  • Dinner

    To welcome the group to Egypt, a special dinner will take place on the Four Seasons Hotel boat, the perfect spot to take in sweeping views of Cairo and the Nile.

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons, in the First Residence complex, sets the standard for luxury hotels in the Egyptian capital. The hotel is decorated in the elegant and refined style that is the hallmark of the Four Seasons chain. The hotel offers some of the most spacious accommodation available in Cairo, with advanced in-room technology and large windows overlooking the city, botanical gardens or the pyramids. The en suite marble bathrooms all feature a separate shower, deep-soaking bathtub and L'Occitane products.

DAY 2
Monday, February 27: Cairo

During the first full day in Cairo, the group will focus exclusively on the history and culture of pharaonic Cairo, visiting iconic sites in Giza.

  • Morning

    The day will begin with a guided tour of the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. There will be a special opening to the Paws of the Sphinx with a presentation by Dr. Zahi Hawas. Archaeologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, Dr. Hawas is considered to be one of the greatest experts of ancient Egyptian culture, with dozens of publications and numerous television appearances over the past several decades.

  • Lunch

    The group will dine at Nine Pyramids View Rooftop with spectacular views of the Pyramids.

The Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza were built for some of the mightiest Pharaohs - Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus. The Great Pyramid of Giza remained the tallest man- made structure in the world for 3,800 years. The bases of the three Pyramids of Giza together cover more than a million square feet, roughly nine mid-town Manhattan blocks.

The Sphinx

Cut from the bedrock, the original shape of the Sphinx has been restored with layers of blocks. It measures 73 meters (240 ft) long from paw to tail, 20.21 m (66.31 ft) high from the base to the top of the head and 19 meters (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. It is the oldest known monumental sculptures in Egypt and is believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafre.

  • Afternoon

    The much-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum will be the focus of the afternoon, as the group will have the opportunity to view the extensive collections of ancient Egyptian art on a guided tour.

  • Dinner

    Dinner will be hosted by Shahira Mehrez at her home, which was designed by Hassan Fathy, one of the leading Egyptian architects of the past century who combined the use of new materials and technology with traditional forms and methods.

DAY 3
Tuesday, February 28: Cairo

Travelers will spend the day in Historic Cairo, exploring the history and culture of Islamic Cairo. Over the past several decades, WMF has worked on a number of sites in this neighborhood, and highlights will include tours of past and present WMF projects.

  • Morning

    Takiyyat Ibrahim al-Gulshani

    In 2018, WMF included this remarkable architectural complex on the World Monuments Watch, and continues to work with the local community to restore the site and help reimagine its future use. Travelers will see firsthand the work of WMF and our partner, and learn about the architectural importance of the buildings, a rare example of the new style that emerged in Cairo after the Ottoman conquest in the sixteenth century.

    The Blue Mosque

    In 2009, WMF partnered with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, to repair earthquake damage to the Blue Mosque. After a decade of work the project was completed, resulting in stabilizing the building, conserving the historic interior, repairing the roof, and setting up a post-conservation monitoring and maintenance system. Today, visitors will experience an exquisite interior space decorated with intricate carvings and vibrant Iznik tiles.

  • Lunch

    The group will enjoy lunch at Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant. Named in honor of the Nobel prize winning author, the café is adorned with arabesque décor and references to the life and work of Mahfouz.

Takiyyat Ibrahim al-Gulshani

The complex of al-Gulshani was the first religious foundation established in Cairo after the Ottoman conquest in 1517, and the first to be named a takiyyat, a Turkish-derived term for a residential religious complex. This architecturally unique complex includes residences for al-Gulshani's family, retreat cells, a small mosque for devotees, a communal kitchen, commercial shops, and a domed mausoleum set on a raised courtyard where rituals and public gatherings took place. The grand mausoleum al-Gulshani built for himself was the centerpiece; its finely carved stone dome high enough for its crown to be admired from the street.

Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, or Aqsunqur Mosque, is an exceptional example of early Mamluk religious architecture, and the largest mosque in the Bab al-Wazir district of Cairo. Built in 1347 by Amir Aqsunqur, it incorporates a mausoleum and impressive courtyard for prayer. The mosque’s first restoration came in 1652 under the Ottoman Amir Ibrahim Agha Mustafazan and included refurbishing the sanctuary with the blue Iznik tiles that lend the mosque its name.

  • Afternoon

    Visit to Khan El Khalili Bazaars.

    This market was built in 1382, and was known as the Turkish bazaar during the period of Ottoman rule. Today the Khan is considered one of Cairo’s most important shopping areas.

    Tour of Al-Azhar Park

    In 2005, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture spearheaded an ambitious project to transform an abandoned area of the city in a 70-acre expanse of greenery. Offering a contemporary design inspired by historic Islamic gardens, Al Azhar Park attracts over 2 million visitors annually and provides a much needed green space in one of the densest cities in the world.

  • Dinner

    The group will enjoy a private dinner at the home of Samih Sawiris, a member of a leading business family in Egypt and a major patron of the arts.

Khan El Khalili Bazaars

Khan el-Khalili once known as the Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman period, is now usually just called the 'Khan', and the name of it and the Muski market are often used interchangeably to mean either. The market was built in 1382 by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili in the heart of the Fatimid City. Together with the al-Muski market to the west, they comprise one of Cairo's most important shopping areas.

DAY 4
Wednesday, March 1: Cairo - Abydos

  • Morning

    The group will board a charter flight to Sohag, Egypt.

  • Late Morning

    Red and White Monasteries

    After arriving in Sohag, the group will travel to the Red and White Monasteries, among the best preserved Coptic monasteries in Egypt. After the site’s inclusion on the 2002 World Monuments Watch, research and conservation activities developed at both churches, financed by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) , providing a greater understanding of the conditions and needs of these monasteries. Recently, WMF intervened after the partial collapse of wall due to heavy rains in the region. Travelers will not only learn about the history of this site, but see firsthand the impact of WMF’s Crisis Response program.

  • Noon

    The group will drive to Abydos by private coach.

Red and White Monasteries

The White and Red monastic churches are located amid what may be one of the richest surviving Coptic archaeological sites. Once part of larger monastic complexes, the churches date from the earliest years of Christian monasticism, which was born in the Egyptian desert in the waning years of the third century CE. Both structures exhibit a fusion of pharaonic, Roman civic, and Christian architectural styles. 

  • Afternoon

    After enjoying lunch in Abydos, the group will begin to explore the various sites within the Abydos archaeological complex. Recently included in the 2022 World Monuments Watch, Abydos is one of the most significant places in ancient Egyptian history and culture. By working with the local community, WMF will help build an inclusive model for the sustainable preservation of Abydos. While exploring the temples and monuments throughout Abydos, the group will learn more about the work taking place here.

  • Overnight

    The group will stay at the House of Life Hotel in Abydos

Abydos

Abydos is one of the oldest and most important sites of ancient Egypt, occupied from as early as 3300 BCE. Located on the west bank of the Nile in Upper Egypt, the sacred city overlooks a desert valley once thought to offer passage to the realm of the dead. It was the royal burial ground for Egypt’s first pharaohs and later, the center of worship for the cult of Osiris, god of the underworld. In modern times, excavations at Abydos have added to our knowledge of Egypt’s ancient past. 

DAY 5
Thursday, March 2: Abydos - Luxor

  • Morning

    After breakfast the group will return to Abydos to tour more areas of the complex, including the Temple of Seti I, built around 1300 BCE and known for the Gallery of the Lists, and examples of ancient graffiti. At the rear of the Temple is the Osireion, believed to be dedicated to the worship of the god of the underworld.

  • Late Morning

    The group will drive to Luxor

  • Afternoon

    After enjoying lunch in Luxor, the group will visit the Luxor Museum where Dr. Alaa Hassan, Director of the Luxor Museum, will welcome the group before a guided tour of the collection.

Luxor

Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum, but that comes nowhere near describing this extraordinary place. Nothing in the world compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the Nile flowing between the modern city and west-bank necropolis, backed by the enigmatic Theban escarpment. Scattered across the landscape is an embarrassment of riches, from the temples of Karnak and Luxor in the east to the many tombs and temples on the west bank. Thebes’ wealth and power, legendary in antiquity, began to lure Western travelers from the end of the eighteenth century.

Luxor Museum

The Luxor Museum was inaugurated in 1975. It is a two-story building. The range of artifacts on display is far more restricted than the country's main collections in the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo; this was, however, deliberate, since the museum prides itself on the quality of the pieces it has, the uncluttered way in which they are displayed, and the clear multilingual labeling used. The museum was conceived by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, which hired Dr. Mahmud El Hakim, a top Egyptian architect, to create the plans in 1962. The installation of the museum art works came later and was finished between 1972 and 1975.

  • Dinner

    This evening, the designer Christian Louboutin will host the group on his private boat. In addition to his impressive career as a luxury shoe designer, Louboutin has spent many years in Egypt supporting major archaeological projects in and around Luxor.

  • Overnight

    Travelers will stay at the Hilton Luxor Resort.

Hilton Luxor Resort

The Luxor Hilton is the slickest, most luxurious resort in Luxor. Located 2km north of Luxor center, past the Karnak temples, the large Nileside rooms are elegant and tastefully decorated in a warm Asian-inspired style with lots of neutral colours and wood. Communal areas exude calm and tranquillity and the spa is impressive, more Thailand than Egypt.

DAY 6
Friday, March 3: Luxor

  • Morning

    The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III

    When WMF listed the mortuary temple on the 1998 World Monuments Watch, all that remained of the pharaoh’s funerary temple were the Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic statues, seated on thrones, both effigies as tall as a six-story building and each weighing an estimated 720 tons. Since then, an extraordinary amount of work has taken place resulting in astonishing discoveries that the guide will share with the group.

  • Late Morning

    Visit the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens.

  • Lunch

Colossi of Memnon

The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III was the grandest of all mortuary temple complexes built in Egypt. The temple contained hundreds of freestanding statues, sphinxes, and massive steles—tombstone-like slabs of stone, once carved with descriptions of Amenhotep III’s building achievements. Unfortunately, Amenhotep III sited his mortuary temple too close to the Nile River. Over the course of centuries, water repeatedly inundated the complex, damaging its architecture and statuary. Eventually all that remained visible were the Colossi of Memnon.

Ramesseum Mortuary Temple

This magnificent mortuary temple was built on the site of Seti I’s ruined temple and was described as the “tomb of Ozymandia,” which later inspired a poetic verse by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

  • Afternoon

    The remainder of the day will be spent exploring other ancient wonders of Luxor, including visits to the famed Valley of the Kings, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, the Ramesseum Mortuary Temple, and New Gourna Village, which was placed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch.

  • Dinner

    During the final evening of the trip, the group will return to the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III for a special dinner at the Colossi of Memnon.

  • Overnight

    Hilton Luxor Resort

DAY 7
Saturday, March 4: Luxor

  • Morning

    The group will participate in a guided tour of the Temple of Karnak, a former WMF project. The Karnak temple complex at Luxor developed over more than 1,000 years, principally between the Twelfth and Twentieth Dynasties. It was, at its peak, the largest and most important religious complex in ancient Egypt. From 2001 to 2003, WMF assisted with emergency stabilization and repairs and the development of a long-term conservation treatment plan.

  • Lunch

    Before departing, the group will a farewell lunch at the Old Winter Palace Hotel. This historic hotel was built in 1905 during the period of British colonization of Egypt. Notable residents include Agatha Christie, who wrote Death on the Nile while staying here.

  • Afternoon

    The group will board a charter flight back to Cairo.

  • Dinner

    Dinner in Cairo (TBD).

  • Overnight

    Four Seasons First Residence, Cairo.

Temple complex of Karnak

The massive Temple complex of Karnak was the principal religious center of the god Amun-Re in Thebes during the New Kingdom (which started from 1550 until 1070 BCE). The complex remains one of the largest religious complexes in the world. However, Karnak was not just one temple dedicated to one god – it held not only the main precinct to the god Amun Re – but also the precincts of the gods Mut and Montu.

DAY 8
Sunday, March 5: Departures

  • Morning

    Individual departures from Cairo.