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If you are en route to popular cities in Egypt such as Luxor of you are passing along the Red Sea then chances are you would more than likely seen the town of Qena. To be sure Qena is the gateway to Bur Safaga via the Eastern desert.
It is also located some 39 miles of the city of Luxor on the north and El Balyana and is the capital of the Qena Governorate. Qena was once known as Kaine back in the Greco-Roman era. From then until now the city has gone through so many dramatic changes and upgrades that it was awarded the third best beautiful city by UNESCO.
One thing that is unmistakable here is the strong Islamic presence. It is even more apparent as you see worshippers by in their traditional dress. Even the mosques scattered about are also clear reminders of the towns spiritual foundation.
One of the most popular mosques in Qena was built to honour Maghrebi Abd el-Rahim. As the story goes, Rahim travelled to Qena after worshipping at Mecca. He was then compelled to start up a Sufi Center there. Today Rahims tomb is overshadowed by the mosque which was erected after his death in the 1100s. The mosque is also a popular place that worshippers visit for pilgrimage. Aside from its religious foundation, Qena is known for manufacturing pottery which is made from clay of the Egyptian earth. The clay is used for making kulals which is a popular water bottle.
All types of tastefully crafted pottery items can be found for sale in downtown Qena as well as at other places such as Nakada and Qous. Qous is ideally the place to get the finest in porcelain china.
Ruins also make up for the points of interest in Qena and one of those attractions is the Dendara ruins. At this temple one can see a variety of interesting painting and other materials that echo the days of Pharaohs. The Asna Temple which was build in the Roman era is also a must-see. The temple was created as a ceremonial tribute to the God Khnoum. Even the god of Keft also has a temple named after him as well. If you need a change of scenery while in Qena you can always visit some of the cities that are nearby. Some of the neighbouring towns include Luxor, Cairo and Suez. To visit these cities, the visitor is only allowed to travel out of Qena through an organised tour. They can choose their form of transportation which would be either via a train or taxi.
Qena in Egypt is a quaint market town that most visitors pass through en route to other nearby cities such as Luxor and Cairo to name a few. Because of this there really isnt too much for a tourist to do here especially one that is yearning adventure and lots of attractions. The cream of the crop as far as tourist attractions goes here in the Dendera Temple. The temple which is located on the Niles west bank is historically and aesthetically pleasing.
It is replete with fountains which are the perfect entrance to the mud-brick enclosure walls. This temple is pays homage to Hathor an Egyptian goddess and as the story goes, the temple was reconstructed to with a few additions both by the Ptolemy and Roman rulers because they felt that Hathor had many similarities to their own goddess Aphrodite and Venus respectively.
The Roman governors became so caught up in Hathor that they too are immortalised on the sanctuary wall presenting offerings to Hathor. Dendera also holds a variety of inscriptions from as far back as the eighteen dynasty. Inscriptions from Ramses II and Thotmes III are very vivid here. The original birth house still stands today in Dendera and this small cult temple was built to honour two deities son. Even Horus of Edfu and Isis son Harsomtus is honoured there. Some time later the birth house continued to grow as more reliefs were added including that of Trajan and Hadrian.
For those of you who are into touring monasteries you will be thrilled to know that there are quite a few here in Qena. The Coptic monasteries are huge and quite popular and they include the Mar Gerges monastery which was named after the Saint Mar. Each year the saint is honoured with a Christian celebration. Elsewhere in Qena are the monastery of Al Faghori and the Monastery of All Shohadaa both of which can be found in Asna.
After touring the monasteries you can relax and unwind at one of the hotels in Qena, most of which have a three star rating. More sight-seeing can be done in the neighbouring city of Luxor and one should try to take a tour of the Luxor Temple build in the 18 Dynasty era. Even back then it was clear that elegance played an important part in creating monumental structures. The Luxor Temple boasts of having several open courtyards and you can see several statues of Ramses II. Papyrus columns also add to the beauty of the Luxor Te,mple. Look for the interesting reliefs which cover walls in the Colonnade of Amunhetep III. These are actually one of the few monuments that have been saved from King Tuts reign.
Built during the eighteenth dynasty by Amenhotep III and added to by Ramses II, Luxor Temple was built to celebrate the annual Opet Festival when the statues of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu were taken in procession from Karnak to Luxor. The temple features colossal seated statues of Ramses II and large open courts surrounded by elegant papyrus columns. Open daily.
Of particular interest are the reliefs covering the side walls of the Colonnade of Amun-hetep III which, although userped by Hor-em-heb, are the major surviving monument from the reign of Tut-ankh-amun.