Shali, The Ancient Fortress of Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Our hotel for the next two nights was The Siwa Paradise Hotel with a big group of Egyptian university students and one other tour group staying here besides us. We were happy with the room after we had the staff replace all the burnt out light bulbs so we could actually see and extremely grateful that it was nowhere near the students rooms. A dinner buffet is served from 7:00-10:00 p.m, and the breakfast buffet from 7:00-10:00 a.m. Very well situated within walking distance from the small center of Siwa. Actually, the center of Siwa Oasis consists of two blocks and this is where the restaurants and craft shops are. According to Ahmed, all the crafts are made here, not in Cairo.

We were going to visit two sights this afternoon, beginning with the Ancient Fortress of Shali, walking distance from the hotel but before leaving, the Tourist Police has to sign you out..View image. Wherever and whatever we visited in Egypt, the Tourist Police was always on hand to write down names, license numbers of guides and drivers, and find out exactly where they were taking us. A slow meander through town with stalls selling olives, dates, more olives, more dates…great smelling chicken grilling in front of a restaurant… it was hot…hot…hot…and the flies were already driving me “kwazy“!

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Ahmed and Tourist Police in Siwa Oasis, Egypt signing us out
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luscious looking chicken being grilled on the street in Siwa Oasis, Egypt


The majority of tourists visit the dilapidated fortress of Shali at night for the sunset but we chose to visit now. The fortress is in ruins, slowly m-e-l-t-i-n-g… and was built of rock, salt, mud-brick, and palm leaves. You could still see palm leaves and trunks sticking out of the walls…View image Various information says that 20,000-30,000 persons lived inside the walls at one time.

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the ruins of Shali behind the old town of Siwa Oasis, Egypt
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the crumbling ruins of the Fortress of Shali, Siwa Oasis, Egypt


The abandoned ruins of Shali Ghali towers five stories above Siwa and is brightly lit at night. We continued walking up to the top for views of the very picturesque ruined mosque with its minaret, Siwa Oasis, surrounding desert and “Dead Mountain” in the distance (more about that later). The only other sightseers in Shali was a school group. They were busily picking stones and shells from out of walls…View image, and putting them into petri dishes to examine back in school.

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a school class working on a science project, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

For a small town, Siwa had quite a bit to see…

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