The ancient city of Berenice, named by Ptolemy II Philadelphos after his mother, became a trading port in 275 BC. Situated on the great caravan route from Coptos (Qift) and Edfu on the Nile to the Red Sea, it was for almost 500 years one of the most important Red Sea ports. A ruined Temple of Semiramis built by Trajan and Tiberius is near the modern town and resort of Hamata and, inland, there are the remains of the emerald mines of Wadi Sakait, which were worked from Pharaonic to Roman times. On the outer walls of the temple are representations of Emperor Tiberius before the god Min, and another depicts offerings to the deity of the Green Mines. The coast is lined with mangrove swamps and unspoiled bays and coves. Offshore, visit the tectonic island of Zabargad, a geological phenomenon which is also famous as the source of the semi-precious gem olivine, mined here from 1500 BC until the mid-20th century. From Peridot hill there are good views of the surrounding blue lagoons, rich in marine life and home to many dolphins. While Berenice is famous for it's fishing, it also has some of Egypt's best health spas.
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