Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Siwa Oasis - Part 7 : Cleopatra Spring, the mountains & Fatanas island

This is the Seventh in a beautiful series of articles written by my friend Gabi Philips who has spent an extended period of time in Siwa.

Also Read
Part 1 : Transportation
Part 2 : Where to Stay
Part 3 : Where to Stay (contd)
Part 4 : Shali
Part 5 : Places to Visit
Part 6 : Aghourmy : The Oracle & the Broken Rock

Cleopatra Spring:
Located to the East of Siwa, it is believed that Cleopatra used this spring for bathing. In the late 90's, the wall of the spring was covered with ceramic!! Now it has been removed to maintain its original look.
People do swim in the pool, but ladies must show some respect to the local community traditions and culture by not showing too much skin (bikini/swimsuit should not be worn - its recommended to wear a t-shirt over a swimsuit before getting in).
Check the photos to see how local kids look strangely (and may by offended) at some tourists not respecting their culture.

Gebel El-Dakroury (El-Dakroury mountain):
The mountain is to the east of Siwa. It is famous for curing rheumatic disease by a therapy involving being buried in the sand, usually in the summer (June, July & August).
This mountain is also the site for the annual Siwan celebration which lasts for three days. Usually held on or around the full moon in October after the dates and olives harvest season.

There is more than one opinion about how the mountain got its name. The only one I remember is that the area was a slave trading point, where slaves used to come from Dakar.

Gebel el-Mawta (Mountain of the dead):
Located in the northern part of the oasis, it is the first archeological site you see on arriving at the oasis (it will be to the left). It contains many tombs from Pharonic times. Four of them have drawings on their walls. It was used by Siwans and English soldiers as a refuge during World War II, and so several drawings/paintings were destroyed by the war or removed and taken away by English soldiers. these paintings could have helped identify the inhabitants of the tombs.

There are some ruins in front of the mountain.
The big mosque is just off the main square on the way to Gebel el- mawta, it was build by King Fouad and there is a shrine beside it.

Fatanas Island:
It is an island in the Western Salty Lake, famous for its magnificent sunset view. The salty lake was created from agricultural sewage water. However, few years ago an agricultural sewage project took place to solve the problem of excessive waste water. This moved the natural borders of water away from the island, but tourism to the island wasn't affected. The locals say that the project was like a temporary "pain killer" and did not "cure" the problem.

There is a fresh water spring where people can swim.
Please check more photos on the following link

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