Kharga used to be the last but one stop on The Forty Days Road, the infamous slave-trade route between North Africa and the tropical south.
Today, it is the biggest New Valley oasis and its modern city houses 60.000 people, including 1.000 Nubians who moved here after the creation of Lake Nasser. Outside the main centre is the Temple of Hibis,
built on the site of an 18th dynasty settlement of Saites, Persians and Ptolemies.
One of the few Persian monuments
in Egypt, the 6th century BC temple is well-preserved with
painted vultures and huge reliefs of Darius greeting Egyptian
gods on the outer walls.
Ten kilometres away, the Necropolis of al-Bagawat contains 263 mud-brick chapels with Coptic murals, including the Chapel of Peace with images of Adam and Eve and the Ark on its dome and the Chapel of the Exodus
with frescoes of pharaonic troops persuing the Jews, led by Moses, out of Egypt.
Pharaonic monuments include the al-Ghuwaytah Temple which dates from 522 BC and the Temple of Amenebis.
The thermal springs at Bulaq and Nasser villages, to the south, are famous for water temperatures up to 43'C and reputed to be suitable for the treatment of rheumatism and allegies.
Further south is Baris Oasis,
the second largest settlement in Kharga.
Houses designed in traditional Nubian style by Hassan Fathy remain uninhabited - local people refused to live in them because of their similarity to tombs and building stopped in the late 1960s.
Ancient monuments include the Temple of Dush, dedicated to Isis and Serapis.
Its name derives from Kush, the ancient Sudanese capital which traded with Egypt along the Nile.
Archeologists are still unearthing the ancient city of Kysis with which the temple is associated; and elaborate system of clay pipes and an abandoned Christian church, suggest that Kysis was abandoned when its
underground springs dried up but the exact date remains a mystery.
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