In Pharaonic times, Kharga Oasis had the dubious honor to be the place of exile and banishment for mischievous Nile Valley citizens. The location at the crossroads of vital desert trade routes brought it great prosperity. Today, it is the capital of the New Valley Governorate.
Necropolis of al-Bagawat
Kharga’s main attraction is the Necropolis of al-Bagawat, honored as one of the “best least-visited Egyptian sites” by Frommer’s travel guidebooks and as a “Lonely Planet Top Choice”. This necropolis is one of the earliest surviving and best-preserved Christian cemeteries in the world with hundreds of mud-brick Christian tombs sitting atop an earlier Egyptian necropolis.
The most interesting buildings are the “Chapel of Peace” with figures of the Apostles, the “Chapel of Exodus” featuring paintings of biblical stories of the Old Testament, and the “Chapel of the Grapes” with paintings of grapevines.
Roman Fortress Deir al-Munira
During Roman times this fortress protected the Darb al-Arbaeen caravan route linking Fasher in Sudan’s Darfur province with Asyut in the Nile Valley.
Built of mud-brick, the Roman fortress Deir al-Munira measures 73 x 73 meters (80 x 80 yards) square and has 12 towers. With walls as thick as 3.6 meters (11.5 feet) and as tall as 10 meters (32 feet) it still today is an impressive building.
Temple of Hibis
The temple of Hibis, dedicated to Amun-Re, is the best preserved temple in the Western Desert (partly because it was buried in sand until it was discovered and excavated by a team from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1909).
The Watermelon Valley, Wadi al-Battikh, features thousands and thousands of watermelon-shaped rocks.