Al-Qusseir, in Arabic translates as the smaller Version” of a place. Nevertheless, the position of the city once made it one of the major strategic ports of the
Red Sea. It is located 85 kilometers south of Safaga and 140 kilometers south of Hurghada. The city was known as the white Harbor in the Ptolemaic times. Several civilizations during the past four thousand years have used this remote outpost on the
Red Sea as a starting point to go exploring, expanding and trading with remote lands.
The importance of Al Quseir is due to the fact that it is located at the end of the shortest route from the
River to the
Red Sea, and therefore it came one of Ancient Egypt’s very earliest and most important ports. It was the route used in ancient times to transport goods to and from remote lands to
Egypt and the
When the Roman Emperors ruled
Egypt, Myos Hormos, the Roman name for Al- Quseir, bet. ire the main gateway to
India and East At ca. During the peak years of the Roman rule, around 20 AD, an average of 120 ships per year set out from Myos Hormos to India in order to bring luxury goods such as silk, spices, me .cines, pearls to Egypt, while exporting wine, fine pottery, glass and precious metals. The remains of Myos Hormos are only eight kilometers north of present Al-Quseir, where one can see the ancient port structures and, scattered on the terrain.
” that links Al- Quseir with Qift on the
River contains more historical remains. The road is intersected by a series of other wadis, the most famous one being Wadi Hammamat. This was the site of the quarries of the bekheni stone, much appreciated in ancient times. In Wadi Hammamat some 200 hieroglyphic tablets adorn the cliffs, and more inscriptions are on the south side of the wadi, engraved in the ravine walls. Some are from 4,000 years ago, and depict the typical
Nile reed boats. Along these roads the Romans built a series of watch towers and guesthouses at regular intervals, and some of them can still be seen nowadays.
Furthermore, since Al- Quseir is not only a seaside resort, but one also of historical importance, local officials are trying to ensure the city’s heritage is kept safe. Old buildings built in the classic French and British styles, with large terraces and wooden balconies, need to be protected from being sold and demolished. An association has been set up to accomplish these goals, so that Al-Quseir can retain its wonderful old essence while emerging as a first rate tourist destination.
So today, Al- Quseir is one of those actually unusual places in
Egypt where one may go for some scuba diving in the
Red Sea or spend a comfortable afternoon sunbathing on a pristine beach, and at the same time, visit historical sites located only a stone’s throw away.
Two thousand years ago Myos Hormos was the Roman Empire’s principal gateway to
East Africa. Only recently have archaeologists been able to identify the exact location of this ancient port, just eight kilometers north a Quseir. During its peak period around 20 AD, reportedly 120 ships laden with wines, fine pottery, glass, precious metals and textiles set out each year from Myos Hron - to
India. They brought back all kinds of luxury goods including spices, medicines, silk and pearls. Myos Hormos seems to have been abandoned in the 2nd century AD. During the 14th and 15th centuries however, the site was revived into a thriving port for
Mecca pilgrims and a rejuvenated
India trade. At Myos Hormos you can see foundations of ancient port structures and have a
numerous remnants of empty Roman storage jars (amphorae). Pottery shards are strewn all over the area, evidence of thriving economic activity.
Bir Um Fawakhir
Bir Um Fawakhir lies in the rugged Precambrian mountains of the central
Desert and is almost exactly halfway between the Nile and he
Red Sea. The site is approximately 65 km (two and a half to three days by camel) from Quft (ancient Coptos). This route, which is the shortest from the Nile to the Red Sea has been in use for at least 5,000 years and follows a Series of wadis (dry canyons) cutting through the mountains. The most famous ancient site enroute is the Wadi hammamat, which was the Source of a fine-grained dark greywacke that was highly prized in Pharaonic times for statues, sarcophagi, and the like. Bir Umm Fawakhir, about 5km northeast, lies in a different geological zone. The Fawakhir granite is a stock intruded into the older Precambrian rocks. As no agriculture has ever succeeded in this hyperarid desert, the only resources are mineral, namely, gold, granite and water. The granite was quarried to no great extent in the Roman period, but it also acts as aquifer, carrying water in tiny cracks until it is stopped by the dense ultramafic rocks to the West. 3 V have always been dug there. Most importantly, however, the quartz veins injected into the granite are auriferous, particularly towards the edge of the stock. (Many other minerals occur as well, including pyrite, chalcopyrite, and hematite, which stain the quartz reddish.)
This Ottoman fortress in the town center of Quseir is certainly worth a visit. It was built in the 16th century during the reign of Sultan Selim to protect trade links with
India. Napoleon’s troops occupied the fortress in 1799, fortifying it with cannons mounted high on the walls. They also added a new viewing platform. A few years later, British forces ejected the French after a fierce battle and added a new gate to the fortress. The opening of the
Suez Canal in 1869 led to the decline of Quseir and its fortress.