Luxor, a city on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt. This was the site of Ancient Thebes and was home to some of the greatest monuments of the ancient world; built to honor the living, the dead and the divine. To ancient Egyptians the city was known as Waset and today known as Luxor. It was the capital of Egypt during parts of the Middle Kingdom (2040 to 1750 B.C.) and the New Kingdom (circa 1550 to 1070 B.C.).
Pharaohs covered the banks of the Nile with their mammoth building works and began the vast tomb structures snugly hidden amid the rocky valley of the west bank. Today Luxor city surrounds two huge surviving ancient monuments: the legendary Karnak Temple complex and the beautiful Luxor Temple. On the river's west bank you can find the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
Karnak Temple is one of the biggest religious complexes in the world, and even after more than 3,000 years it remains one of the most awe inspiring. Some of the monuments you can see at Karnak Temple are enormous e.g. Hatshepsut's obelisk towers 90 feet. The massive structures, columns and statues paid tribute to four different gods. Karnak is linked to Luxor Temple by a grand 3km long path lined with sphinxes.
Luxor Temple is located in the modern downtown district of the east bank and you will notice it has soaring columns and statues of Ramses II. During the reigns of Amenhotep III and Ramses II, circa 1500 to 1200 B.C., the primary structure was built, but other rulers from Tutankhamun to Alexander the Great added their own signature touches. This temple was dedicated to Amun in his form as a fertility god and it was used during the annual Opet festival of royal renewal.
- Amenophis IV - obliterated all references to the god Amun within the temple and added the Sanctuary of the god Aten
- Tutankhamun - embellished the walls of the colonnade with reliefs and in turn destroyed the Temple of Aten
- Seti I - restored the reliefs of Amun
- Ramses II - extended the temple significantly, adding a new colonnaded court at the north end
- Christian era - the temple underwent a transformation into a church
- Islamic period - the Mosque of Abu el-Haggag, dedicated to a revered holy man, was built inside the complex grounds
Today Luxor Temple and the Abu el-Haggag Mosque is still operational and a place of worship.
Unfortunately we weren't able to take our cameras into the Valley of the Kings but it was magical. When we were walking down into the tombs, I felt like I was in a Brendan Fraser movie about to awake 'The Mummy'.
The Valley of the Kings was used to bury royalty during much of the New Kingdom era. Kings would have their workers start building their tomb from day one of their ruling. The kings were interred in elaborate underground structures, their chambers and passages were decorated with magnificent paintings and filled with everything a pharaoh could desire in this world and the next. During this era it was believed that the dead man, accompanied by the sun god, sailed through the underworld at night in a boat. The tombs walls were adorned with texts and scenes depicting this voyage and giving the dead man instruction on its course.
Tutankhamun's tomb is one of the main reasons for it's popularity with tourists. His tomb had legendary treasures and it was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. We didn't end up going into his tomb as it costs extra, there are so many other tombs that you can go into and see, they're all amazing!
This beautiful temple is situated at the foot of the sheer cliffs and surrounded by the desert hills, the light-coloured, almost white, sandstone of the temple stands out prominently against the golden yellow/light brown rocks behind. The temple's name, Deir el-Bahri, derives from the former monastery that was built during the Coptic era, but today is called by many as Queen Hatshepsut's Temple.
Queen Hatshepsut built this temple, she was the stepmother of pharaoh Thutmose III, she became regent for the adolescent Thutmose III when Thutmose II died. She is the first known female monarch, ruling for about two decades, thus delaying kingship of Thutmose III. After her death (which is still unknown), many of her portraits were destroyed, no doubt from Thutmose III. In the portraits of Queen Hatshepsut that survived she was portrayed as a male pharaoh with a royal headdress and kilt and sometimes even a false beard. Throughout some of the inscriptions, she is referred to as a male and this was to demonstrate that she possessed all the authority of a king.
I found Medinet Habu to be one of Egypt's most beautifully decorated temples and I would definitely recommend visiting it if you go to Luxor. The detail in the carvings and the striking colours from the paint is spectacular.
This temple was one of the earliest places within the Theban region to be associated with the worship of Amun. Queen Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III built a small temple dedicated to the god Amun. Medinet Habu is the modern name of the area where Ramses III built his mortuary temple, this was next to the small temple.
Throughout Luxor there are so many monuments that you could easily spend up to a week here. When traveling around Luxor it felt like an open air museum, every where we would drive you would go past magnificent structures and small temples. I would definitely recommend that if you travel to Egypt you visit Luxor, you will lose yourself in the wonders of the ancient world.