Qasr Al Ghueita

Fort in Al Kharga Oasis

The garrison’s massive outer walls enclose a 25th-dynasty sandstone temple, dedicated to the Theban triad Amun, Mut and Khons. In later centuries, the fortress served as the perimeter for a village, with some houses surviving along the outer wall. Within the hypostyle hall a series of reliefs show Hapy, the pot-bellied Nile god, holding symbols of the nomes (provinces) of Upper Egypt.

Although you wouldn't guess it from the arid dusty landscape, during antiquity this area, some 18km south of Al Kharga, was the centre of a fertile agricultural community renowned for its grapes and winemaking – the name means 'Fortress of the Small Garden'.. Settlement here has been dated back to the Middle Kingdom period when it was known as Perousekh. Today two sturdy forts from its later Roman period survive here, lording-it-up over the plains, probably utilised as garrison buildings for troops.

From the main road to Baris, an asphalted track leads 2km to this imposing mud-brick fortress. If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can get to the fort from Al Kharga by taking a microbus heading for Baris (LE8) or a covered pick-up going to Bulaq (LE2.50). From the highway an asphalt road links the forts, running up the desert incline for 3km to Qasr Al Ghueita. It's an extremely long, hot hike if you're on foot – be sure to take plenty of water.