I strongly believe that the best way to get to know a new travel destination and understand its culture is to research the history of that place. I love to travel, and each time I visit a new place, I read about it before I leave for my trip and try to soak up as much information about it when I’m actually there. I also make a point of visiting historical museums in places where this is possible, because I think you can tell a lot about a society by the artifacts it chooses to display to represent itself and its past.

Praveen Kailas

Few man-made structures can compete with the majesty of Egypt’s Sphinx.

A few years ago, I traveled to Egypt with my family. Such an old country invariably has so much history that it’s virtually impossible to learn the full scope of information about it on one trip, so we decided to visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities to help educate us about the region. Located in Tahrir Square, the unfortunate site of much of the violence surrounding the 2011 uprising, this museum has been operational at this site since 1902 and houses

120,000 antiquities, making it one of the biggest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the world. The museum mostly specializes in artifacts dating back to the Pharaonic era, including ancient coins, papyrus scrolls, and pieces of actual tombs belonging to Pharaohs like Hatshepsut and even Tutankhamun himself!

Unfortunately, during the civil uprising in Egypt, this museum suffered serious damage, including the theft of about 50 pieces of artifacts and two whole mummies, the latter of which have never been recovered. Commendably, this did not deter the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities from continuing to display the rest of the collection, and as of October 2015, the museum is fully open to the public once again.

Although I’m not sure when I’ll be able to make it back to Egypt, this magical country holds a special place in my heart, and I’m very much looking forward to the day when I can return there for a second trip and learn even more about its enormously influential past.