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Kharga Oasis

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El-Kharga': is the southernmost of Egypt's five western oases. It is located in the Libyan Desert, about 200 km to the west of the Nile valley, and is some 150 km long. It is located in and is the capital of El Wadi el Gedid governorate. This oasis, which was known as the 'Southern Oasis' to the Ancient Egyptians is the largest of the oases in the Libyan desert of Egypt and "consists of a depression about 160km long and from 20km to 80km wide."

All the oases have always been crossroads of caravan routes converging from the barren desert. In the case of Kharga, this is made particularly evident by the presence of a chain of fortresses that the Romans built to protect the Darb el-Arbain, the long caravan route running north-south between Middle Egypt and the Sudan. The forts vary for size and function, some being just small outposts, some guarding large settlements complete with cultivation. Some were installed where earlier settlements already existed, while others were probably founded anew. All of them are made of mud bricks, but some also contain small stone temples with inscribed walls.

Kharga is the most modernized of Egypt's western oases. The main town is a highly functional town with all modern facilities, and virtually nothing left of old architecture. Although framed by the oasis, there is no oasis feeling to it; unlike all other oases in this part of Egypt.

A regular bus service connects the oasis to the other Western oases and to the rest of Egypt. A railway line Kharga - Qena (Nile Valley) - Port Safaga (Red Sea) has been in service since 1996.

Archaeological sites

The Temple of Hibis is a Saite-era temple founded by Psamtik II which was erected largely by the Persians (Darius the Great and Darius II) during their rule over Egypt ca. 500 BC. It is located about 2 kilometres north of modern Kharga, in a palm-grove. There is a second 1st millennium BC temple in the southern most part of the oasis at Dush. An ancient Christian cemetery at Al-Bagawat also functioned at Kharga Oasis from the 3rd to the 7th century AD. It is one of the earliset and best preserved Christian cemeteries in the ancient world.

   
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