Dakhla's rich patchwork of shifting yellow dunes, red earth, green farmland, and ancient mud-brick villages is like a mirage against the backdrop of pink and white cliffs that rise up sharply to shelter the oasis. This was once a breadbasket for the Roman Empire, and its fields and orchards still flourish on the iron-rich soil.
A number of significant sites from antiquity are spread across the oasis, including the restored Roman-era Temple of Deir al-Hagar, the ruins of a large Roman settlement called Amheida, and the tombs of several Old Kingdom governors. Yet Dakhla is better known for its fortified Islamic towns, most notably Al-Qasr and Balat, which are built on Roman foundations and probably sit atop pharaonic settlements. There's strong evidence that the oasis has been inhabited continually since Neolithic times.