A Dozen Doors

A few months ago, a good friend of ours, Danielle, gave us an art project to complete – photograph a dozen doors from around the world and post them on our blog. After taking pictures of hundreds of interesting and unique doors, Matthew and I selected the dozen that we think captures aspects of each country.

Thanks to Danielle for this awesome art project!

Fortification in Ronda, Spain

Fortification in Ronda, Spain

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Local Residence in Chefchaouen, Morocco

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Local Residence in Fes, Morocco

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco

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Local Residence in Marrakech, Morocco

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King’s Palace in Marrakech, Morocco

Karnak Temple - Egypt

Karnak Temple – Egypt

Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple – Siem Reap, Cambodia

King's Palace, Phnom Phen, Cambodia

King’s Palace, Phnom Phen, Cambodia

Citidel Interior in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Interior in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Gates in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Gates in Hue, Vietnam

The Luxor and Karnak Temples

Luxor Temple at Sunset

Luxor Temple at Sunset

Luxor Temple - Sphinx & Matt

Luxor Temple – Sphinx & Matt

Luxor Temple - Matt & Alex with Ramses

Luxor Temple – Matt & Alex with Ramses

Luxor Temple - Entrance

Luxor Temple – Entrance

Luxor Temple

My family and I saw the Luxor temple as we arrived at night from the airport.  It was lite up and you could see lots of pillars and statues.  When we saw the temple during the day, it was extraordinary. The Luxor temple has a huge obelisk and two huge statues of Ramses II in front of it. The temple was created during the New Kingdom over 3500 years ago during the reign of Amenhotep III and Ramses II.  There were many pillars in the temple that stood over thirty feet high, while others were just twenty feet. Some of the pillars were so large that five grown men holding hands can just get around them. These pillars were made from granite, limestone or sandstone.  These pillars were created by cutting circular blocks out of rock. The builders created a mud ramp to help stack the blocks on top of each other. As the builders took the dirt away, they carved drawings into the pillar and made it smooth.

Karnak Temple

While in Luxor, we also visited the Karnak Temple.  This temple is dedicated to Amon Ra, the sun god.  The grounds of the temple are 200 acres and over two kilometers long.  It is the biggest temple in the world.  It took at least five pharaohs and about 2000 years to create.  We also saw 134 huge pillars here.  It would take ten grown men holding hands to get around each pillar.  We saw a huge obelisk in the centre of the temple that was created by Hatshepsut.  There was also a huge scarab.  It is the biggest one left in the world from ancient Egyptian times. There were many images of battles and offerings to the gods.  There were images of apples that looked exactly like the North American apple.  There is a roadway that is called the Avenue of the Sphinxs that leads from the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple.  There are hundreds of sphinxs on each side of this roadway.  These sphinxs have heads of the pharaohs, rams and lions.

If you ever go to Luxor, I would suggest that you visit the Luxor and Karnak Temples.

Roadway of Sphinx between Luxor and Karnak

Roadway of Sphinx between Luxor and Karnak

Pillars at Karnak

Pillars at Karnak

Obelisks at Karnak

Obelisks at Karnak

Matthew & Alex with Monkey Statue

Matthew & Alex with Monkey Statue

Largest Scarab in Ancient Egypt still Surviving

Largest Scarab in Ancient Egypt still Surviving

Heiroglyphs at Karnak

Heiroglyphs at Karnak

Karnak Temple - The Morsons/Duffy Clan

Karnak Temple – The Morsons/Duffy Clan

 

Guns, Guns & More Guns!

Guns - Photos Not Allowed!

Guns – Photos Not Allowed!

There are so many guns here in Egypt!  Right outside of our hotel in Cairo there was an armed vehicle with soldiers that carried submachine guns and automatic rifles.  At one of the restaurants that we ate at, the man sitting beside us had a pistol.  We could see it in its holster.  Around the Arab League building, near the Egyptian Museum, there were many police officers standing behind metal barriers.  These barriers look like a metal door with an open rectangular window where the soldiers had their rifles and submachine guns ready.  When we were leaving Cairo airport for Luxor, we saw more soldiers with rifles and automatic rifles.  When we were driving from Luxor to the West Bank towards the Valley of the Kings, we saw soldiers in these towers on posts that had guns sticking out of them.   When we went to see the Tomb of Ay, we were crowded into a car in the Valley of the Kings with a driver, a guide, a police officer who was carrying a submachine gun all in two seats, with my family in the back seat.  Even though it seemed that everybody had guns, fortunately they did not use them and the safetys were on (or at least we hope)!  

P.S.  This post was for Callan. :)  Also, we were not allowed to take pictures of the guns.

The Pyramid’s near Cairo – Giza

The last ancient Egyptian site that my family and I saw on November 6th was Giza. The Giza Plateau contains ten different ruins; the Great Pyramid of Giza, Khafre’s Pyramid, Menkaure’s Pyramid, the Sphinx, and six smaller pyramids that belong to the named pharaoh’s wives, daughters and mothers.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The first pyramid that we saw was the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was ordered by Khufu. It is the tallest pyramid built by the ancient Egyptians with a height of ? . This pyramid was built from 2580 to 2560 B.C.E., but nobody was found inside the pyramid. It is believed that looters stole the mummy. Outside the pyramid there were the remainders on a causeway coming from the funerary complex to the pyramid, on which Khufu’s sarcophagus would have been transported to the pyramid, after mummification.

 

 

 

Menkaure's Pyramid

Menkaure’s Pyramid

Khafre’s Pyramid was the second pyramid that we visited at Giza. This pyramid was ordered by Khafre, and was constructed around 2570 B.C.E. This pyramid is 136 meters in height – the second tallest built by the ancient Egyptian empire.

The last pyramid that we visited at Giza was Menkaure’s Pyramid. Menkaure ordered this pyramid around 2510 B.C.E., the youngest pyramid at Giza. This pyramid is also very small relative to the others, with a height of only 65 meters.

 

 

The pyramids of Giza.

The Sphinx and Khafre’s Pyramid

Our last stop at our last site was the Sphinx. It is believed that the Sphinx represents the pharaoh Khafre, who also ordered this giant statue. Construction started on the Sphinx in 2558 B.C.E., and was finished in 2532 B.C.E. Something about the Sphinx that was different then my expectations was the size of the Sphinx. I had thought that the Sphinx would be much bigger, as in pictures I had always seen it with pyramids in the distance, and the Sphinx look about the same size as the pyramids. I knew that the pyramids were a distance behind the Sphinx (my perspective), but I didn’t realize how far back the pyramids were.

 

It was amazing to see ruins that had survived more then 4000 years, and I found it astounding that the ancient Egyptians could lift such huge pieces of rock. Another thing that I found interesting was how the ancient Egyptians could decorate their tombs. I can’t imagine how much work must have been put into them. Overall I really enjoyed our time at the pyramids near Cairo.

Panorama of the Giza Pyramids

Panorama of the Giza Pyramids

Sitting on the Great Pyramid of Giza!

Sitting on the Great Pyramid of Giza!

The Pyramids near Cairo: Dahshur

Snefreu's Bent Pyramid

Snefreu’s Bent Pyramid

The second ancient Egyptian site that my family and I visited on November 6th was Dahshur. This site contains two different pyramids – the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, both of which we visited.

 

 

 

 

Family Photo in front of the Bent Pyramid

Family Photo in front of the Bent Pyramid

We started our visit at the Bent Pyramid. This pyramid was ordered to be built by Sneferu, from 2613 to 2589 B.C.E. The Bent Pyramid is called “the Bent Pyramid” because Sneferu decided to change the angle of the pyramid half way through, giving it a bent look. He changed the angle because of two design flaws: 1. there was an unstable base for the pyramid made of sand, gravel and clay that compressed when heavy stones were placed on it, and 2. The blocks were cut in such a way that their weight aimed downward, causing all of the weight of the pyramid to be directed towards the center. Therefore, if the angle hadn’t been changed, the pyramid would have collapsed.

 

3/4 of Family in front of the Red Pyramid

3/4 of Family in front of the Red Pyramid

Our second and last stop at Dahshur was the Red Pyramid, which was also ordered by Sneferu. Archeologists believe that Sneferu didn’t like the failed Bent Pyramid, so he built himself another resting place known as the Red Pyramid. This pyramid is 30 stories tall, and was the first triangular shaped pyramid. To enter the pyramid, you climb up around 15 stories. The view from that high up was pretty cool, as you could see the Step Pyramid of Saqqara in the distance. We went down 65 meters into this pyramid, and saw all three chambers inside. The first two rooms had high vaulted ceilings, and not much else. No hieroglyphics or painted reliefs, just limestone walls. The burial chamber also had no decoration, and there was no vaulted ceiling. The Red Pyramid also strongly stank of ammonia, and was ridiculously hot. I think that even though Sekhemkhet’s Pyramid at Saqqara was smaller, the quality of the decoration and design was much better then the Red Pyramid.

Snefreu's Red Pyramid

Snefreu’s Red Pyramid

The Pyramids near Cairo: Saqqara

Outside of Hypostyle Columns – Saqqara

My family and I visited three different ancient Egyptian sites on the outskirts of Cairo – Saqqara, Dahshur, and Giza. We started our day at Saqqara, visiting the hypostyle hall, the Step Pyramid, a mastaba, and Sekhemkhet’s Pyramid.

Hypostyle Hall - Step Pyramid - Saqqara

Hypostyle Hall – Step Pyramid – Saqqara

To get to the Step Pyramid you had to walk through the hypostyle hall, which was built around 2670 B.C.E. This hall was designed by the architect Imhotep, who was also the pharaoh Djoser’s vizier. The hypostyle hall also contains the first stone columns built, in recorded history. Pharaohs used the hypostyle hall as a place to hold the royal Sed Festival. The purpose of this festival was to reaffirm the pharaoh’s divine power, 30 years into his/her reign. Within the hypostyle hall, there are spaces in between columns, where statues were placed. These statues were representations of the god Amon-Ra (the most powerful and celebrated god in the ancient Egyptian religion), which the pharaoh would pray to before their reaffirmation.

Step Pyramid of Djoser - Old Kingdom

Step Pyramid of Djoser – Old Kingdom

The Step Pyramid was ordered to be built by Djoser and also designed by Imhotep, from 2667 to 2648 B.C.E. As this pyramid was the first ever built, it looks different then the later pyramids. Instead of the triangular prism shape that most other pyramids have, this one is six mastabas (an ancient Egyptian tomb in the shape of a rectangle, with sloping sides and a flat roof, which was used before pyramids were created) stacked on each other, progressively getting smaller as they get closer to the peak.

A mastaba was our third stop at Saqqara. This tomb was once one of Djoser’s priest’s final place of rest. When we entered the first room of the mastaba, we saw a strip of embossed reliefs, which depicted people fishing. When we turned around, we saw engraved hieroglyphics around the entrance. As we continued through the five-roomed tomb, we continuously saw the same strip of embossed reliefs – people fishing. There were some other embossed scenes that we saw around the strip of people fishing, such as a priest giving offerings to the gods, slaves tending cattle, and the priest himself. A difference that I noticed between the beginning and the end of the mastaba was that the colour of the images was much better at the end then at the beginning.

Inside of Pyramid

Inside of Sekhemkhet’s Pyramid

The first pyramid that we entered on November 6th was Sekhemkhet’s Pyramid. On the outside this pyramid appeared to be no more then a mud dune, but after a 30m decent into it’s highly decorated antechamber and burial chamber, you could immediately tell that it was something special. The antechamber’s walls were completely covered with thousands of perfect hieroglyphics, and an untouched blue ceiling with amazing stars engraved into it. The burial chamber was the same as the antechamber in decoration, except it contained a lovely sarcophagus, with engraved hieroglyphics and drawings both inside and out.

Note: Unfortunately, there are no photos of the inside of the mastaba as it was forbidden to take them.