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Al Quseir on the Coast of the Red Sea

Al Quseir on the south Coast of the Red Sea

Al-Quseir has a long history as one of the major ports of the Red Sea: from here Queen Hatshepsut launched her expedition to the Land of Punt, as depicted in the reliefs in Deit el-Bahari temple at Luxor. Legend has it that the expedition returned with two live panthers and 31 incense trees. The 16th-century fortress of Sultan Selim, still standing in the center of town, shows al-Quseir's former strategic importance. Today, it is a quiet resort with sandy beaches, clear waters and coral reefs. An ancient caravan trail, to Qift in the Nile Valley, leads from al-Quseir through the mountains, passing several pharaonic and Roman sites. A new road, directly to Luxor, opens soon.


AL QUSEIR area of South Coast offers a wealth of interest for divers, including a variety of reefs featuring diverse underwater rock faces and an abundance of fauna, not to mention coral which is almost polychromal in appearance. In addition to the famous Elphinstone reef, the Borbo reef, the coral gardens of Anee So Reef, the caves and canyons of Abu Dabab and the El Gotaab site, Erg Monica and Sok Bahar boast a fantastic array of reef fauna and are also well worth a visit.

Al Quseir is one of the Egyptian gateways, and one of the oldest cities on the western coast of the Red Sea. Until the completion of the Suez Canal, Quseir was a crucial port, principally because of the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and Middle East trade. In the past it was known by various names, such as Thagho in the pharonic period, Licos Limen (the white port) in the Ptolemaic period, and Portus Albus in the Roman period.

In ancient times the town was the last stop on the caravan trail connecting the Red Sea with the Nile. During the Islamic age, al-Quseir was considered to be something of a fortress due to its natural geographical position and its name is a diminutive from the Arabic words "al-Qasr [Castle] and "al-Hasn [Fortress].

Located between Hurghada and Marsa Alam, Quseir used to be an important port. Many people traveled from there to the land of Punt to buy ivory, leather and incense. During the Ottoman and the Islamic periods, Egyptians and Muslims from North Africa traveled from Quesir as pilgrims to Mecca. It was also the only port importing coffee from Yemen. During the French occupation of Egypt, Quseir was the arrival point for Arabs and Muslims from Hegaz coming to fight beside the Mamalic against the French army. The most important sites in Quseir are the fort and the water reservoir. The water reservoir was Quseir's only source of drinking water 100 years ago.

The most important monument in al-Quseir is the ancient castle; the exact date of its construction is not known, although it is known that Mamluk Sultan Qansuh al-Ghawri admired its architecture and restored it. The castle was modified during the Ottoman period, before being re-modelled and fortified a third time by French soldiers during the French campaign in Egypt, and was utilized during Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign.

The wadi that links Al-Quseir with Qift on the Nile River contains more historical remains. The road is intersected by a series of other wadis, the most famous one being Wadi Hammamat . This was the site if the quarries of the bekheni stone, much appreciated in ancient times. In Wadi Hammamat some 200 hieroglyphic tables adorn the cliffs, and more inscriptions are on the south side of the wadi, engraved in the ravine walls. Some are from 4.000 years ago, and depict the typical Nile needs boats. Along cheese roads the Romans built a series of watch towers and guest houses are regular intervals, and some of them can still seen nowadays.

Al Quseir Al Kadima is another important site as well. It was the old Roman port where hundreds of amphora and old pottery artifacts were found. Even the police station is located at a historical site. The English influence, in the old buildings with wooden balconies surrounding the port. The Bedouin touch, in the narrow streets lined with bazaars, as well as cafes, coffee shops and restaurants offering sea food. There are several 300-year-old buildings here: the Ottoman fort and the old mosques Al Farran, Al Qenawi and Al Senousi.

Al Quseir is known for diving, with many miles of unspoiled coral reef. Most hotels have dive centres, and there are some downtown, as well. A great thing to do in Quseir are the Safaris, either by quad bike or jeep, you can go for a trip in the desert and visit a Bedouin village, enjoy riding camels and watch Bedouin folklore.

DIVING ABILITY
LEVEL 1

MARINE LIFE
Red anthias, damselflys, rocklings, grouper fish, hammerhead sharks, bigeye thresher sharks, whitetip sharks, nurse sharks, dolphins.

UNMISSABLE DIVES
The Brothers Islands: Big Brother for wrecks and Little Brother for the pelagic fauna

WRECKS

  • Numidia
  • Aida

Al Quseir - Located between Hurghada and Marsa Alam

Places To Visit in Al Quseir:

Faran Mosque:

While under Muslim rule it was the largest port in the Red Sea until the 10th century, and remained a major transit point for pilgrims heading to Mecca well into the 19th century. Among the sights in the town is a 16th century Ottoman fortress, a quarantine hospital built by Sultan Selim II to screen pilgrims, and Faran Mosque built in 1704. On Fridays the two major Bedouin tribes in the Eastern Desert flock into town for the weekly market. Faran Mosque is the oldest mosque in the Red Sea Lübbe Moznp historical center of attention all the delegations throughout the world who falsifies this Almedinpaeryqp.

Fortress:

The 16th-century Ottoman fortress is Al-Quseir’s most important historical building. Much of the original structure remains intact, although it was modified several times by the French, as well as the British, who permanently altered the fortress by firing some 6000 cannonballs upon it during a heated battle in the 19th century.

Police Station:

A few blocks south along the waterfront is the picturesque Police Station, originally an Ottoman diwan (council chamber) and later the town hall. Photos aren't permitted, and it's not open to the public.

Quarantine Hospital:

Behind the police station is another fortresslike building, formerly a Quarantine Hospital built during the reign of the Ottoman sultan Selim II.

Restaurant Marianne:

One of the best places in town to sample the bounty of the Red Sea, this local favourite serves up some seriously delicious seafood. Opening hours are irregular.

Shrine:

Just across from the fortress is the 19th-century Shrine of a Yemeni sheikh, Abdel Ghaffaar al-Yemeni, which is marked by an old gravestone in a niche in the wall.

Ref.:
http://www.aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=7&id=21342
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/egypt/red-sea-coast/al-quseir
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurghada#Al_Quseir
http://www.ibredsea.com/hp_joomla_15/en/red-sea/red-sea/al-quseir

Last Updated on Monday 10th January 2011