Nefertari – First Queen of Ramesses The Great

Nefertari was Known as “Lady of Grace,” “Lady of All Lands,” “Wife of the Strong Bull,” “Great of Praises” and many other nicknames, Queen Neferati was one of the most iconic women of Ancient Egypt.  

Ramesses II, like other kings of Egypt, had a large harem of wives. However, at any time only one wife was given the honor of being his ‘chief queen.” Although he would take eight of these queens over his lifetime, Queen Nefertari was his first and most beloved.

Ramesses was incredibly devoted to Nefertari and was obsessed with her beauty. All of the best Egypt tours will include the story of Ramesses and his admiration for his wife, as this love story is so important to Egyptian history.

Nefertari and Ramesses II in Luxor Temple

Nefertari and Ramesses II in Luxor Temple

Nefertari is Not an Ordinary Woman

The affection that Ramesses had for his wife, which is clearly evident in the adoration painted on the walls of her lavish tomb, shows that Egyptian royal marriages were not always based on power, alliances or conveniences. In some cases they came from a deep and meaningful love. Nefertari was no ordinary woman and Ramesses wanted the world to know how special she was to him.

Nefertari was a highly educated woman and she had the ability to read and write hieroglyphs, which was quite a rare skill at the time. She put her intellect and talent to use in diplomacy, corresponding with other important royal figures of the time. Her origins are not really known, other than the fact that she was a member of the nobility.

Nefertari and Ramesses II in Karnak Temple

Nefertari and Ramesses II in Karnak Temple

Nefertari’s Tomb – A Sight to Behold

Considering how important Nefertari was to Ramesses in life, it comes as no surprise that an impressive tomb was constructed for her in death. Known as QV66, it is one of the most spectacular constructions in the Valley of the Queens. It is known by historians as the “Sistine Chapel of Ancient Egypt.”

As you enter the tomb, a flight of steps cut into the rock leads you into the antechamber which is filled with paintings based on the Book of the Dead. These are some of the best-preserved and most beautiful paintings in any Egyptian tomb, so they are a very popular stop on any Egypt tours.

The ceiling of the tomb is painted with thousands of tiny stars. Large representations of Anubis and Osiris fill the chamber, as well as imagery of Neferati being presented to the gods. There is also a painting of Nefertari coming before the god of writing and literature, which symbolizes her writing skills. As you continue down to the burial chamber, you would have seen the red granite sarcophagus of the queen – if it had not been looted many years ago.

Nefertari in Abu Simbel Temple

Nefertari in Abu Simbel Temple

Ramesses also built amazing temples in honor of Nefertari, carved from the cliffs at Abu Simbel in Nubia – located just south of Thebes. Visible for miles, these colossal temples were designed to fill any visitor to the region with awe – as they still do to this day. Visiting both of these stunning monuments is an absolute must when you are exploring the area on Egypt tour packages.

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