Qasr Qarun

Al Fayoum

At the western end of Lake Qarun, just east of the village of Qasr Qarun, are the ruins of ancient Dionysias, once the starting point for caravans to the Western Desert oasis of Bahariya. All that remains of the ancient settlement is a Ptolemaic temple, known as Qasr Qarun, built in 4 BC and dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile-headed god of Al Fayoum. There are excellent views from the rooftop.

The temple is built of blocks of yellow limestone, but unusually for Egypt there are no inscriptions, except over the entrance, where there is a winged sun, and on the roof, a headless relief of Sobek on the left and a king on the right. The internal structure has been reinforced; if you are feeling adventurous explore the amazing maze of chambers, tunnels and stairways. Take a torch or candles.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Al Fayoum attractions

1. Fayoum Art Center Residency

3.58 MILES

This project run by painter Mohamed Abla hosts classes and resident artists from around the world in the cooler months of January and February; email him…

2. Fayoum Pottery School

4.53 MILES

Established in the 1970s by Swiss artists, Evelyne Porret and Michel Pastore, this school, which trains children and adults in the local potting…

3. Wadi Rayyan Protected Area

9.01 MILES

The 'waterfalls' in the Wadi Rayyan Protected Area are a major attraction for weekend picnickers from Cairo. The waterfalls, where one lake drains into…

4. Medinat Madi

11.02 MILES

This ancient city is one of the most isolated in Al Fayoum, but this is part of its appeal, as you’re often alone out in the blowing sand that drifts over…

5. Lake Qarun

14.54 MILES

Lake Qarun is a popular weekend spot for Cairenes looking to cool down, and the lake edge is dotted with cafes and wedding pavilions. It’s not a big…

7. Wadi Al Hittan

25.29 MILES

This Unesco World Heritage Site is home to the earliest prehistoric whale fossils ever discovered. The more than 400 basilosaurus and dorodontus (both…

8. Waterwheels

26.03 MILES

Al Fayoum is famous for its more than 200 waterwheels, which have become a prominent symbol of the town and the oasis. These four rather rickety and…