The ancient city of Memphis is today reflected in the scattered ruins of two temples and a few statues which form the basis of one of Egypt’s Open Air Museums. The original city, which marked the boundary between Upper and Lower Egypt, was located approximately 24 kilometres south of Cairo. Today this local area lies adjacent to the village of Mit Rahina and is surrounded by the irrigated floodplains of the River Nile, agricultural lands and date palms. The Open Air Museum of Memphis is frequently visited by tourists as it forms a part of many tours which incorporate the ancient necropolis of Memphis which is known as Sakkara (a.k.a. Saqqara). The necropolis of Sakkara is located on the edge of the desert to the west of the River Nile and is famous for being the home of Egypt’s Great Step Pyramid of Djoser which is considered to be the oldest large-scale stone-built monument in the world.
Memphis was once the capital of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom from 3,100 B.C. until around 2200 B.C., although it remained the administrative centre for the whole of Egypt. Estimates vary as to the size of Memphis which range from 6,000 to 30,000 residents, but whatever size it was, little remains to be seen of this once thriving town. It is worth noting that Memphis was at the time the largest city in the world, and the world’s first capital.
Memphis and the necropolis of Sakkara are recognised by their listing as a U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site.