Also known as the Spring of the Sun. This spring was mentioned by Herodotus back in the 5th century B.C. The temperature of the water was thought to miraculously change throughout the day according to the needs of the users. In the morning it was tepid and could comfortably be used by people to wash themselves, at noon it was cool and could be used to water plants and then it gradually warmed up so that in the cool of the night it was thought to boil. It has been established now that it is the air temperature that changes not that of the water and the suspected boiling was simply bubbles of gas!
Jebel Al Mawta
Also known as the Mountain of the Dead. It is believed by Siwans to be haunted and that at night ghostly singing can be heard. The mountain is full of ancient tombs of which 4 are well worth visiting. The tomb of Niperpathot is one of the oldest and largest and has a court with 3 rooms on either side. It is decorated with inscriptions. The tomb of the Crocodile is a 3 room tomb with decorations showing Hathor the cow goddess, Osiris and some animals including a crocodile. Fakhry tells a story of how the local inhabitants, who had a never seen a crocodile, were fascinated by the painting when it was discovered in 1941 and speculated wildly about what size they might reach in real life. "As for length, their estimates varied from ten to a hundred metres! Some of them wanted to know the truth from me, but I refrained from saying anything which might spoil their fun." (Fakhry, Siwa Oasis. AUC, p.187.) The tomb of Mesu-Isis is an unfinished tomb but has a well-preserved red and blue relief of sacred cobras over the entrance. The owner's name cannot be deciphered due to damage so the tomb is known by his wife's name. The tomb of Si-Amun is the 4th tomb of interest and is the most colourful and beautiful of all the tombs at Gebel Al Mawta. The highlight in this tomb is a painting of the goddess Nut standing under a sycamore tree.
Is a triple-peaked mountain about 5km away from the fortress town of Shali. The view from the top across Siwa is well worth the climb but you only need to go half way up to be rewarded with a view of the oasis spread out below. It is also believed to be haunted and there are numerous caves some natural, some man-made which have been decorated and used as tombs. The mountain is a source of limestone and the red clay used to decorate local pottery and is believed to be the site of the legendary lapis, emerald and iron mines Siwa was said to have in ancient times. It is also the site of an annual 3 day festival for men and children only. This is held every October. Another reason to visit the mountain is to experience the sand cures where the patient is –briefly- buried in sand and then taken to a tent to drink soup and herbal teas.
The old town of Shali dominates the oasis. Originally Siwa stood where the abandoned village of Aghurmi is today. 800 years ago they moved to the present site and built a fortress town surrounded by a high wall in which there was originally only one gate. Built of karshif blocks made from the salt laden mud for centuries each family expanded upwards as more space was needed until some homes were as much as 7 stories high. It was only in 1826 that the council gave permission for people to build outside the walls as the space inside was over-occupied. The narrow streets are now uninhabited and may be dangerous underfoot. The Shali is dramatically illuminated at night. There is a busy Friday market in the square in front of the Shali. Nearby are the mosque of Sidi Suliman, the patron saint of Siwa, and a museum called the Siwa House.
The Temple of Amun
At Aghurmi was renowned as the home of one of the most important Oracles of the ancient world. Alexander the Great was only one of many important leaders who wanted answers from Siwa. Cimon, an Athenian general, sent a group of his men to the Oracle to ask about the outcome of his war against Cyprus. On arrival the men were told that the Oracle could not answer as Cimon was already with him. When they returned home they found that Cimon was dead and had died on the day they received the message from the Oracle. Cambyses didn't consult the Oracle but marched against it, determined to destroy the Temple. On the way across the desert his entire army was lost in the sand and their bodies have never been discovered. There is almost nothing left to see now of this once famous temple but there is still an atmosphere of mystery about the area and there are many rumours of mysterious events at the nearby cemetery. There are thought to be ancient tunnels which still link the Temple of Amun with the ruined Temple of Umm Abayd below it.
Island at sunset. Fatnas is a tree-covered island in Birket Siwa, one of the salt lakes. From the lush green island there is a view of the lake and the surrounding mountains, and at sunset the colours are often spectacular.