Luxor is considered the greatest outdoor museum in the world, it contains nearly one third of the worlds antiquities. There is hardly a place in Luxor which has not a relic that reflects the greatness of the ancient Egyptians and their civilization that dates back to seven thousand years ago. Luxor is part of ancient Thebes that the renowned Greek poet Homer described as the city of one hundred gates. The Arabs called it Luxor- the city of Palaces because they were impressed by its magnificent and huge edifices. Luxor is 670 km south of Cairo. It remained the seat of power from 2100 to 750 BC. It still attracts hordes of visitors from all over the world to enjoy the monuments of the eternal city and its temples with their towering pillars on the two banks of the Nile. The City of the Living on the east bank where sunrise is the source of life and growth, and in the City of the Dead on the west bank where sunset symbolizes the eclipse of life. Recently, a bridge connecting the east and west banks has been constructed to speed up tourist traffic to the West Bank. The visitor to Luxor can make a journey to enjoy the wonderful tourist sites of Luxor soaring in a balloon above the temples on the west bank. Some agencies organize daily balloon journeys which last for one and half hours.
EAST BANK MONUMENTS
The Temple of Luxor
It was constructed for the worship of god Amon-Ra whose marriage anniversary to his wife (Mut) was celebrated once a year. The construction of the temple dates from Amenhotep II and Ramses II. The entrance to the temple is a huge pylon constructed by Rameses II. It has two massive statues representing the king seated. Two obelisks used to precede the temple, one of them still exists and the other is now at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
The greatest sanctuary of worship in history that includes several temples among which is the temple of the Theban Triad (Amon, Mut and their son Khonsu). The temple begins with the avenue of rams then the first and second pylon, then the hypostyle hall which contains 134 columns, then the third pylon where there is the obelisk of Thotmes I to relics of the fourth pylon headed by the Hatshepsut obelisk that leads to the fifth pylon and from there to the sanctuary, then the huge Festival Hall which dates to the reign of Thotmes III. At the end of the tour one reaches the sacred lake which was used for purification and is situated outside the main hall where a big statue of a scarab, the sacred beetle, dates to King Amenhotep III.
WEST BANK MONUMENTS
The Colossi of Memnon
Ruins of the funerary temple of Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Known as Deir el Bahari. It was established by the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, one of the few women who ruled Egypt in Pharaonic history. The temple consists of three impressive terraces.
It is the funerary temple of King Ramses II. On its walls is recorded the famous battle of Qadesh and many deities. It also houses the great fallen colossus of Ramesses which inspired English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to write his famous poem Ozymandias.
Medinet Habu Temple
It is the funerary temple of King Ramses III with military and religious motifs. This great temple records the Battle of the Sea People and religious festivals including those of Amun-Min, the fertility god and the festival of Sokar one of the gods of the underworld. This is a temple, like Luxor and Karnak temples, that should not be missed.
Tombs of the Valley of the Kings
The greatest burial ground in the world which is now a World Heritage Site. This dry valley has witnessed some of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the world. Among the many tombs are those of the boy-king Tutankhamun, Ramses II. Ramses III, Seti I, Ramses VI, Amenhotep II, Horemheb and Thotmes III.
Tombs of the Valley of the Queens
The finest tomb is that of Nefertari, Chief Wife of Ramses II. Other tombs include the beautiful tomb of Amunhirkhepshef, a young son of Ramses III who died around the age of 10. Other tombs to be visited are those of Queen Titi, and Prince Khaemwaset, another son of Ramses III.
Tombs of the Nobles
The tombs of Nakht, Menna, Ramose, Ramuza, Sennofer.
The spacious tomb of Ramose, vizier before, during and after the Amarna period (when Akhenaten altered the course of Egyptian history and religion for a short time) is notable for its superb limestone reliefs some of which are interestingly unfinished giving viewers an indication of the work process.
Deir el Medina
This is the village of the worker, the stone masons, painters and sculptors who created the pharaohs tombs in the Valley of the Kings and others in the nearby Valley of the Queens. The village with the remains of its houses and streets are still clearly seen. The workers themselves also carved their own tombs and the most important is the tomb of Sennedjem.