Luxor was known as the capital of the ancient kingdom as Thebes; Today, Luxor is considered the largest open-air museum in the world and home to some of Egypt’s best-known temples, tombs and monuments. Around 3000 BCE it began to rise to prominence and over a period of over 1500 years it became the political, military and religious center of ancient Egypt. It is now an important tourist destination and is home to a significant part of the country’s architectural monuments.
There are countless ancient Egyptian monuments in Luxor. The 3400 year old Luxor Temple, the Karnak Temple complex, the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens necropolises, and the huge stone carvings known as the Colossi of Menmon are just a few. of its characteristics.
Luxor is a small city, so it’s just as convenient to use a taxi or horse-drawn carriage to get around. While using a horse-drawn carriage is undoubtedly a tourist favourite, renting a bike can also be great fun for exploring the city’s landmarks. However, this is only advisable during the day and away from the hottest times of the year!
1. Karnak Temple
The name Karnak was given to this complex because it includes a number of temples, chapels and other village-like buildings. In Arabic, Karnak means “fortified village”.
One of the many temples in Luxor, the Karnak temple complex must be its most amazing and stunning achievement. The Great Temple of Amun, the Temple of Khons, the Festival Temple of Thutmose III, as well as neighboring smaller temples and shrines, are all located within its borders.
The complex was not built according to an overall plan. Instead, it shows the construction work of many successive rulers who competed to beautify and expand this huge national temple, which during the New Kingdom became the most important of Egyptian temples.
2. Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings, hidden between the rocky escarpments on the west bank of Luxor, served as the final resting place for the rulers of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. The tombs, which are covered in incredibly detailed and vivid murals, are usually everyone’s first destination on a trip to the West Bank.
The walls of the tombs were adorned with writings and scenes describing this journey and guiding the dead on their way as the dead were believed to travel through the underworld at night in a boat, accompanied by the sun god (or perhaps become one with the sun god).
There are 63 tombs located in the valley, and they contain the names of notable figures in Egyptian history, including the famous boy-king Tutankhamun.
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To protect the paintings as much as possible from moisture damage, the tombs are periodically opened. To see them completely deserted, go there in the morning (the site opens at 6am).
3. Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple, also known as Thebes or Luxor in Arabic, is a large ancient Egyptian temple complex that was built around 1400 BCE on the east bank of the Nile near the present city of Luxor. The southern shrine was called ipet resyt in Egyptian. On the east bank, it was one of the two main temples, the other being that of Karnak. The Temple of Luxor, which stands atop the modern city center, is a tribute to the changing history of Egypt.
It was called “the southern harem of Amun” and was built by Amenhotep III initially (on the site of an older sandstone temple). It was dedicated to Amun, his wife Mut and their son, the moon god Khons.
It includes the chapels of the deities, together with their vestibules and their subsidiary chambers, a huge hypostyle hall and an open peristyle courtyard accessible from the north by an important colonnade, as well as all the Egyptian temples.
4. Temple of Deir al-Bahri (Temple of Queen Hatshepsut)
The Temple of Deir el-Bahri is beautifully positioned on the West Bank at the foot of steep cliffs surrounding the desert hills, its light-coloured, almost white sandstone standing out strongly against the golden yellow to light brown rocks in the background.
The temple complex is divided into a northern part and a southern part by ramps connecting three terraces that rise from the plain. A raised colonnade runs the full length of the west side of each terrace.
The eastern slopes of the hills were used to excavate the terraces, which were surrounded by magnificent sandstone retaining walls on all sides and to the rear. Even the temple itself was partially carved into the rock.
5. Tombs of the Nobles
If you haven’t had your fill of tombs in the Valley of the Kings, head to the Tombs of the Nobles, which are perhaps less famous, but actually include much better preserved examples of funerary paintings.
Nearly 400 tombs of various dignitaries, dating from approximately the 6th Dynasty through the Ptolemaic era, are located at this West Bank site.
Instead of depicting scenes from daily Egyptian life, these funerary paintings are more interested in helping the dead enter the afterlife.
Some of the most colorful and vibrant funerary paintings in Egypt can be found, in particular, at the Tomb of Sennofer, the Tomb of Rekhmire, the Tomb of Khonsu, the Tomb of Benia, the Tomb of Menna and the Tomb of Nakht .
6. Colossi of Memnon
Most visitors to the West Bank first notice the Colossi of Memnon. Just before the main West Bank ticket office, these huge statues are located along the main road that runs from the Al-Gezira district of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile.
They were previously located at the entrance to the king’s temple, of which only minor remains remain. They were hewn from rough yellowish-brown sandstone that was quarried in the hills near Edfu. They represent Amenophis III seated on a cube-shaped throne.
They were mistaken for the Roman Empire for the carvings of Memnon, the son of Eos and Tithonus who was murdered by Achilles during the Trojan War.
Best time to visit Luxor
Luxor has good weather from October to April which is the best time to visit. Cairo, however, receives the most tourists between December and January, which makes it uncomfortable. Planning a trip to Luxor in June or September can bring you incredible savings, but day visits will no doubt be difficult during these months. The country’s seaside resorts, which offer some relief from the oppressive heat throughout the summer, can be visited. Avoid the midday heat by visiting the famous places early in the morning if you want to visit Luxor between May and October.
Sherif Khalil owns dunes and beyond. Dunes & Beyond offers luxury tours, Nile cruises and desert safaris in Egypt.
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