Tell Basta (Bubastis) is southeast of the Delta township of Zagazig, approximately 80 km northeast of Cairo.
This is the site of the old temple of Bastet the cat goddess. It became a royal residence after Shoshenq I, the first ruler and founder of the 22nd dynasty, became pharaoh in 943 BC. Bubastis was its height during this dynasty and the 23rd. It declined after the conquest by Cambyses II in 525 BC, which heralded the end of the Saite 26th dynasty and the start of the Achaemenid Empire. This is also a site of Christian pilgrimage, the Holy Family supposedly stopping here during their exile into Egypt.
It is not yet a tourist highlight, and the temple is basically in a complete state of ruin, although there are intact cat tombs, protected and preserved, that can be viewed. The tombs at Bubastis are the principal depository of cat mummies in Egypt.
Tell Basta is right next to a small military base. Egyptian officials are not fond of people walking near military bases with cameras at the best of times. The implications of this is that if you get there under your own steam, you may face problems with guards in explaining why you are not on an official tour, and why they were not notified in writing of your impending visit. If your driver is helpful, he will help you talk your way into the site. After buying your ticket, you will be followed by Tourist Police to ensure your safety. It is suggested you tip at the end of your visit, particularly as you are likely to get an armed police escort out of the township of Zagazig back onto the main highway.
If not on a package tour, the best way to get there is by hiring a taxi for the day, or organising a private driver to take you. Be warned, even drivers that work in the tourist industry are not likely to know where the site is exactly and may rely on directions from the locals once in Zagazig. When you get to the roundabout in Zagazig, with the statue of Bastet in the middle, you know you are damn close.
- 1 Archeologic site. The site of Bubastis temple, excavated since 2008 by the German-Egyptian "Tell Basta Project". There's a small adjacent museum.