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El-Amarna is the site of the short-lived city of Akhetaten (“Horizon of the Aten”), founded by the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten as his new capital. The city was central in the king’s vision to replace the traditional state religion, with Amu-Re as its chief god, by the cult of the Aten, the sun disc. At el-Amarna, Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, dedicated many temples and shrines to this god. In addition to a number of royal palaces, the city boasted elaborate living estates and villas for nobles and courtiers, and houses for various members of society, including houses for the workmen employed in the construction of the monuments and tombs.

After Akhenaten’s death, the city was abandoned, and his probable son, Tutankhamun, returned to the old religion and moved the court back to its traditional religious capital at Thebes (modern Luxor). Later rulers dismantled the monuments at el-Amarna for building material and left the city to fall into ruin until it was occupied again in the Coptic period.

Since excavations began here in the late 19th century, the remains of houses, palaces, temples and tombs have been uncovered. Unfortunately, many of the buildings are badly eroded and the stone used in temples and palaces was removed immediately after the city was abandoned. Consequently, only parts of the once grand city can be seen by visitors today. Most notable are the North Tombs, the North Palace, the Royal Tombs, the Small Aten Temple and the South Tombs.

The current British archaeological mission to the site, the Amarna Project (http://www.amarnaproject.com/), has been working here since 1977 under the auspices of the Egyptian Exploration Society.

Open daily, 9 AM - 5 PM

Egyptian: 2 LE
Foreign: 25 LE

12 km southeast of Mallawi and 58 km south of Al-Minya on the east bank of the Nile


BY TRAIN: to Al-Minya railway station, from there the best option is to take a taxi to the ticket office in the village of Et-Till at the entrance to the site
BY TAXI: ask for “Tell el-Amarna”

NOTE: Due to heightened security, private taxis are the only reliable way to visit this site. Local police will provide an escort for the vehicle.

ON THE SITE: The distances within the site are quite large (e.g. 3.5 km from the entrance at Et-Till to the North Tombs and another 10 km from there to the Royal Tombs) so prepare for long walks and hikes up the mountain if you are on foot. Vehicles can use the asphalted roads that run between the monuments within the site.

There is a cafeteria and a gift shop next to the ticket office as well as toilets. A site museum is under construction and is expected to be opened in 2009.
There is a marked visitor route of the Central City. Guides to this route and to the tombs can be downloaded here:

The Aten Temple at Amarna (Christina Geisen)


Akhenaten offers a golden reward to his official Tutu (Christina Geisen)