Kharga is clearly different from the image most people of an oasis out in the desert. It has been the most important town in the development plans for the Western Oases, and has presently a population of more than 100,000 people. And when the architecture is totally dominated by concrete blocks and wide roads, the result is that few tourists use more time than necessary in town.
The population of Kharga are Berbers with roots back to the time when the oasis was a station on the famous 40 Days Road between
Egypt — famous because of the merchandise; slaves.
This temple, named after the town that once existed here, is unique for
Egypt in one respect. It is by far the largest and finest of temples from
Egypt’s 200 years under Persian rulers. It was King Darius I of the 6th century BCE who ordered it built, and dedicated to Amoun. The temple was adorned by rulers over the following centuries, but the original style was always respected.
Kasr El Zayan
Several guide books rate the Kasr el-Zayan fortress as in a very ruinous state. This is not entirely true, walls stand high, the centre of the temple is almost intact, and the setting is great. The main drawback is the original small size; you can coven it all in 5 minutes.
The Necropolis of Bagawat is a reminder of one of the most central battles of early Christianity; the dispute over the nature of Jesus. The 5th century bishop Nestorians was exiled to Bagawat (as the village was called) for having claimed that only one of Jesus’ natures had suffered on the cross; the earthly nature. Riot the divine. The large extent of the Necropolis of Bagawat is the result of the his and his supporters’ exile. The tombs here are believed to indicate that worship of the dead was continued in a Christian style.
Ain Umm Dabadib
Ain Umm Dabadib is the sight of Kharga that requires the most effort to reach, crossing sand dunes. The former town here owed its wealth to being one of the last staging post before the caravans headed north. Its history goes back to Roman times, and remains of temples from this period still stand. There are also ruins of churches outside the fortress walls.
Ed-Deir was a fortress that protected the shortest caravan route between Kharga and the
Nile. It stands on the eastern extreme of the Kharga Oasis, at the foot of
Mountain. It is made up of a fortress with 12 rounded towers, connected by a gallery. Only some of the rooms have survived, and are clearly marked by the long career of the fortress. Graffiti starting centuries ago, also include decorations of early 20th century airplanes
Kasr EL Ghawita
About 20 km south of Kharga is the
Kasr al-Ghweita built between 250 and 80 BCE. It was dedicated to the Theban triad Amoun, Mut and Khonsu. According to some guide books, it is in a very ruinous state. This is fortunately not true. The 10 meter high walls are nearly intact, the houses have high walls still standing and the temple is about as complete as any other popular ancient destination in Egypt. Even large parts of the surrounding village can be seen.
The Kasr el-Labeka was built by the Romans, yet largely implementing traditional building techniques. It was on the old caravan routes, and in its heyday the Surrounding area was green and with water. Water was carried by an aqueduct that still stand, but which is silted up.
The old town of
Paris is practically not visited by tourists; the few people, who make it out here, use their time exploring the ancient slave city of
Dush. Should you have the time, Baris is actually quite interesting it is filthy though since it is mainly abandoned by its former inhabitants and taken over by goats. But some houses are still in use, and the ones not in use are in good condition, Should you be lucky enough to find an empty house with an open door, you have a chance to see how traditional life really was.
Some houses are decorated, and then they usually tell the story about the proprietors journey to
Mecca, names and details are described with Arabic text, the means of transportation has been painted.