About Siwa Oasis
The most isolated and mysterious oases of Egypt; the Siwa Oasis is one of the destinations in Egypt that always retained its unique magic and its unparalleled ambience. Many tourists visit Egypt just to explore the Egyptian Western Desert and its marvelous oases.
Situated around 850 kilometers from Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and away from the River Nile where the life and the events of Egypt always revolved around, the Bedouins of Siwa still possess their original ancient traditions and habits that amaze travelers spending their tours in Egypt.
Geographical Location of Siwa Oasis
The Siwa Oasis is in fact situated around 300 kilometers to the borders of Libya. This makes it the farthest oasis in Egypt. A desert of rocks occupies the Western borders of Siwa, Sand dunes occupies the Eastern borders, the Qattara depression to its North.
Siwa is situated around 850 kilometers to the North East of Cairo, more than 1500 kilometers to the North West of Aswan, 1146 kilometers to the North West of Hurghada, around 500 kilometers to the North West of the Fayoum Oasis, and around 250 kilometers to the South West of Marsa Matrouh, the nearest city to Siwa in Egypt.
The History of Siwa Oasis
According to historical records, too little was known about the Siwa Oasis until the 6th century BC. However, generally speaking, it was proven that Siwa had relations with Egypt as early as the 15th century BC. This was one of the most flourishing periods of the Egyptian history when the kings of Egypt had many successful military campaigns that added a large area of land in the Western desert that included Siwa.
There is no doubt that the Siwa Oasis has witnessed the construction of a Temple dedicated to the worship of the god Amun during the ruling period of the 18th dynasty, between the 13th and the 16th centuries BC, spreading the worship of Amun in many places in the Western Desert of Egypt.Amun was the most important ancient Egyptian god at the time.
The reasons why the priests of Amun chose Siwa to build a temple for their god was that the oasis was among one of the most important transit points of commercial caravans that came from the Western Desert to the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta.
Among the most important historical events, or perhaps the most important, is the visit of Alexander the Great to Siwa in the 3rd century BC when he became the ruler of Egypt. Alexander in fact went Siwa to visit the Temple of Amun to become the son of the god Amun, a ritual that was quite common between Pharaohs who ruled Egypt throughout history.
Historical records assert that in the year 331 BC, after Alexander the Great took control of Egypt and started establishing Alexandria as his new capital, he went to visit Siwa with some of his army troops. It was even said that after they left the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and went to the South in the direction of Siwa, the water they had was over. However, the rescue came from god when it rained heavily in an area that rarely witnessed rains.
It was said as well that Alexander never notified the priests of the Temple of Amun concerning his visit. This was why they were quite amazed to view Alexander and his troops suddenly in the oasis. The highest priest of the Temple of Amun welcomed Alexander and guided him to the inner sanctuary of the temple to consult Amun by himself.
When Alexander went out the temple, his friends and companions asked him about what the god Amun told him, he said that he will never say anything except to his mother. However, he died before reaching his mother. The only true fact we are sure of that the visit of Alexander to the Temple of Amun in Siwa made him more legitimate to rule Egypt.
The Climate and the Surface area of Siwa Oasis
Situated in the Western desert of Egypt, the Siwa Oasis has a continental climate that is quite hot in the summer in all times of the day. While in the winter and the spring the mornings are warm and beautiful. However, the nights are very cold in some periods.
Siwa Oasis Today
Many claim that the Siwa Oasis today is no different than what it seemed like hundreds of years in the past. However, in the last few decades, Siwa has become one of the popular destinations for tourists who spend their vacation in Egypt. With the establishment of some new hotels and resorts the number of travelers even increased in this isolated oasis.
The Siwa Oasis is surrounded with more than 25,000 trees and the oasis has more than 250 thermal springs that are famous for curing a number of diseases.
One of the most important historical sites of the Siwa Oasis is the ancient town of Shali. This town was established in the 13th century and most of the houses were made by a local material that is was a mixture of sand, clay, salt, and straw. Shali was deserted in the 1930s after some heavy rains that ruined the houses of the city.
Another important site that is recommend for any traveler spending his tour in Egypt to explore while visiting the Siwa oasis is the Cleopatra Bath. This wonderful natural spring is surrounded with palm trees and many plants.
There is also the famous Temple of Amun or the Temple of the Oracle. The ruins of the temple can still be visited until today in the ancient citadel of Aghurmi that was abandoned in the same period as Shali.
Another interesting historical site is Gebel El Mawta, or the Mountian of the Dead, which hosts a large number of historical tombs dating to the 26th dynasty and ending with the Greco Roman period in Egypt. Many of these tombs have retained its decorations and colors.