Qasr Kharga

Is the main town of Kharga and contains very little original architecture. There is the Mabrouk Fountain carved by local artist Mabrouk and a thriving souk. The souk is a good place to buy articles actually used by the local inhabitants. On the main street in Qasr Kharga is the Kharga Museum, housed in a building designed to look like a tomb at Bagawat. The lower floor houses the varied collection of antiquities from the surrounding area. The second floor has an impressive display of coins and Coptic artefacts.

Highlights of the museum include:

A complete Roman sarcophagus made of sycamore wood which was found at Labeka.

The Ba Birds. Found at Dush, these wooden, painted birds were buried to ensure the dead person would safely make the transition to the other world. There are five birds to represent the five elements that all needed to be present to ensure safe passage.

Parts of the Tomb of Im-Pepi found at Dakhla.

The Kellis wooden panels, also found at Dakhla, these are sycamore wood note tablets containing a variety of writing ranging from marriage contracts to fiction.

The double Statue of Ima Bibi a former governor of the oases and his wife.

The False Door Stela of M Khent-ka which the director of the museum believes is the most important piece in their collection. Found at Balat, this limestone door contains the earliest reference to the oasis so far discovered.

There is an entrance fee to visit the museum.

Temple of Hibis
Is a well-preserved sandstone building, dedicated to Amun-Re. It was buried in the sand before being excavated and now stands in a palm grove. The temple is approached through a Roman gate with interesting inscriptions on it and inside the hypostyle hall there is a selection of graffiti from early visitors including Rohlfs.

Cemetery of Bagawat
Is one of the earliest and best preserved Christian cemeteries in the world. A church stands in the centre of the necropolis. The tombs are a mixture of pit burials and chapels. Two chapels in particular have finely decorated interiors. The Chapel of the Exodus is decorated with scenes from the Old Testament including Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark and Moses in the Sinai. The Chapel of Peace also shows biblical scenes as well as being decorated with vines and peacocks. Beyond Bagawat there are rock cut tombs and the Monastery of Mustafa Kashif which remains an impressive shell and provides an excellent viewpoint to look back over the valley.

Dush
Occupied a strategic hilltop position and boasts the ruins of both a fortress and a temple. The old name was Kysis. Ruined walls are all that is left of the fortress while a few columns and walls remain of the sandstone temple of Osiris. It is believed that part of the temple was once covered in gold. There is an entrance fee. Just beyond Dush is the Darb al-Dush, an old caravan trail which led to Esna and Edfu. There is also a field of golden barchan dunes. It is possible to access Baris through the dunes.

Baris
Was an important trading centre on the Darb al-Arbain. Its inhabitants traded directly with Esna in the Nile Valley. At New Baris, 2km away, it is possible to see the abandoned remains of a project that was intended to revitalise the oasis. Designed by architect Hassan Fathy, it was well laid out and practically designed for desert living. Building was never resumed after it was interrupted by the Six Day War in 1967.

Al Deir
Is the most impressive Roman fortress remaining. You need permission to visit this site but it is well worth the effort. The fortress itself has 12 towers, thick mudbrick walls and a system of tunnels that channelled water to fields and outbuildings. Nearby are a ruined church and a cemetery.

Qasr al-Zayyan
Is the site of another Roman fortress which contains a temple. Restored in the 1980s, Roman coins, glass and bronzes have been found here.

Qasr al-Labeka
Was one of the largest fortresses in Kharga. Guarding the Darb al-Arbain it is in spectacular location. There are still two aqueducts, some rock-cut tombs and three buildings- the fortress itself, and two temples -to be seen.

The Yardang
Can be found 10.4km north of Qasr Kharga on both sides of the road. Yardangs form in environments where water is scarce and the prevailing winds are strong, unidirectional and carry an abrasive sediment load. The wind cuts down low lying areas into parallel ridges which gradually erode into separate hills that take on the unique shape of a yardang. This process yields a field of yardangs of roughly the same size, commonly referred to as a fleet due to their resemblance to the bottoms of ships.