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Perhaps the most famous ancient capital of Egypt was the city of Memphis. It is located just outside Greater Cairo and can be visited on the same guided day tours as the Pyramids of Giza. Today Memphis is open to the public as an open-door museum. At 5,000 years old, Memphis is worth visiting and offers a peek into the ancient capital city responsible for building the iconic pyramids of Egypt.

Egypt is a country full of a bewildering number of attractions and it is difficult to see and experience all of them in one trip. Another must-see attraction is that of The Valley of The Kings in southern Egypt. Egypt is also home to many "lost cities" like Tanis - and more of Egypt's lost cities are still being rediscovered.


Why Memphis Is One Of Egypt's Star Attractions

Memphis was the capital of Egypt's ancient Old Kingdom and continued as an important city throughout Egypt's ancient history. It is believed that Memphis was the first capital of Ancient Egypt. It sat on the all-important Nile occupying a strategic location at the mouth of the Nile Delta and was a bustling port city.

  • Location: 12 miles or 20 kilometers South Of Giza
  • Capital: Of Egypt's Old Kingdom

Memphis boasts a large density of factories, workshops, and warehouses and was a distribution center for food and merchandise for Ancient Egypt.

  • Founded: In 3200 BC By King Narmer
  • Age: Over 5,000 Years Old

One of the most important structures in the city was the great temple of Hut-ka-Ptah - or Enclosure of the ka of Ptah". Ptah was considered the garden god of Memphis.

The name Hut-ka-Ptah was rendered as Aἴγυπτoς (Ai-gy-ptos) in Greek and is thought to be the origin of the English name for the country - Egypt (the Egyptian name for the country is "Miṣr").

Eventually, Memphis headed into a period of decline following the rise of the thriving coastal city of Alexandria.

It is believed that Memphis was the first capital of Ancient Egypt

Memphis has been known by different names throughout its history and the current name, Memphis, is from a Greek translation of the Egyptian Men-nefer - which refers to a nearby pyramid built in the 6th Dynasty.

While Memphis is one of the most important archeological sites in all of Egypt, little really remains of the ancient city. It was largely dismantled to build other newer cities over the millennia. But still, it boasts a good number of ancient ruins.

Related: Visiting Egypt? Here Are Some Things To See There Besides The Pyramids

Meet Raheena - Home Of The Giant Statue of Ramses II

One of the most important monuments at the site is that of Meet Raheena. It has ruins from ancient Memphis and most eye-catching the colossal statue of Ramses II.

It has multiple massive statues of Ramses II but the most impressive is that of a 30-foot tall statue laying down protected in the building. Ramses II was known as one of the great Pharaohs who built many of Egypt's most famous monuments like the Temple of Abu Simbel. The most iconic massive statues in Egypt of ancient pharaohs tend to be that of Ramses II. Rameses ruled Egypt from Thebes near what is today Luxor long after the golden age of Memphis had passed.

  • Main Statues: Massive 30-foot Statue of Ramses II & A Sphinx
  • Rameses II: Regarded As The Great And Most Powerful Pharaoh Of The New Kingdom
  • Alabaster Sphinx: Sculpted From A Single Piece of Alabaster

Another of the main attractions is that of the sphinx that is carved from a single piece of alabaster weighing some 80 tons. It is believed to represent Queen Hatshepsut.

Related: A Travel Guide To Egypt: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 10 Things

Guided Tours Of Memphis

There are plenty of day tours to Memphis and these are normally combined with other tours to the pyramids. The tours typically leave from one's hotel in Cairo or Giza. One example of a private tour to Memphis listed on Viator offers a day tour to the Giza Pyramids, Memphis City Dahshur & Saqqara Pyramids.

This tour is a full-day tour of around 9 hours and that starts at 7.30 am, 8.00 am, or 9.00 am. It includes an expert guide, entry fees, lunch at a local restaurant, and transport with a new vehicle.

  • Duration: 9 Hours
  • Type: Private Tour
  • Price: From $65.00
  • Includes: Lunch, Entry Fees, Transfers, expert Guide

On the tour, one will have the opportunity to enter some pyramids, ride a camel around the pyramids, or enjoy a quad bike ride (for additional fees).

Viator.com has plenty of other day tours of the pyramids and Memphis. One can choose group tours that can start from as low as $20.00.