Travel & Leisure

Virtual Tours Can Whisk You to Ancient Egypt

Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities lets you see the sites virtually

By Erika Morris

Photo: iStock/Sergey Denisenko.

Have you ever wanted to visit Egypt but never had the chance? Counterintuitively, quarantine might be the best time to do so now that Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has posted links on its Facebook page that let you take virtual tours of the country’s wonders—for free!

With the help of 3-D modelling from Harvard University, the ministry has created tours that let you “walk” through ancient Egyptian civilization sites, all scanned in high-resolution detail. To explore, all you need to do is click hotspots on the floor. Tours of the tombs include background information on the lives of those entombed.

The oldest of the historical wonders is the tomb of Queen Meresankh III. Her sarcophagus, which is actually kept at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, has been digitally reconstructed for the virtual tours. It’s in an underground burial chamber accessed by a spiralling narrow stone stairway featuring wall carvings of hunters catching waterbirds, bakers making bread, and servants bearing offerings. The tomb itself showcases 10 statues of women standing shoulder to shoulder.

The second tomb is that of the scribe Menna, located near the town of Luxor. The colourful paintings on the walls have made it one of the most visited sites, and unfortunately all the paintings of Menna have been defaced. According to the tour, ancient Egyptians believed that paintings of people contained their souls and “destroying the face would ‘deactivate’ the image.” It’s been said that the tomb site has been used to communicate with the dead.

The other tours include the Red Monastery, a Coptic Orthodox Christian church covered in elaborate murals, the Mosque-Madrassa, which boasts an open-air court and is known for its innovative architecture, and the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, which is a treasure trove of historical and religious documents and is said to be the site where Moses was found as a baby.

“Experience Egypt from home,” the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities urges on Facebook. “Stay home. Stay safe.”