|Known as the Ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes, Luxor is
located 671 Km south of Cairo, on the banks of the Nile River. At the height of
their power, the Thebans, with their vast manpower and immense wealth, could
build magnificent places of worship for their local god Amun and Amun-Re,
united with the sun god Re. Temples were built on the east bank of the Nile to
greet the rising sun while the west bank was the land of the dead where the sun
set and where the pharaohs built their funerary monuments.
Thebes was outstanding for 500 glorious years until the end of the New Kingdom
and the last of the Ramses (1069). Then, power returned to Memphis in the
north. Having persisted during Greco-roman times, the city had been forgotten
by the time the Arabs conquered Egypt in the 7th century. In the 18th century,
after Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, the temples were rediscovered and
identified as the ancient city of Thebes. By mid 19th century, the first
cruisers were already on Nile, as Luxor became a must for adventurous
travelers. Tales and reports having spread around the world from the 1860s
onward, Luxor has attracted more and more eager and adventurous tourists.
Points of Interest
- Luxor Museum
This is arguably the best museum in Egypt, with its collection of ancient
Egyptian funerary items and statues found in and around Luxor.
To the ancient Egyptians, Karnak was known as Ipet-Isut, The Most Perfect of
Places, and you can see why. Despite being in ruins, it remains spectacular.
Possibly the largest temple complex ever built anywhere, it grew in stages over
1,500 years, added to by successive generations of pharaohs, and the resulting
collection of sanctuaries, kiosks, pylons, and obelisks acts as a vast open-air
archive of history set in stone.
- Exploring the West Bank and Valley of the Kings
Across the Nile from Luxor town lie the temples and tombs of the West Bank.
- Valley of the Kings
This valley between rocky hills is one of the richest archaeological sites on
Earth. During the greatest period in ancient Egyptian history, practically
every pharaoh was buried here, in deep tombs of extraordinary beauty, decorated
with images of the afterlife. These chambers were filled with vast treasures.
Although almost everything was looted in antiquity, it is impossible not to
entertain the thought that a magnificent cache remains secreted away, awaiting
As modern Muslims all aspire to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime,
ancient Egyptians tried to make a pilgrimage to Abydos, cult center of the god
Osiris. Those who couldn't make it while living were often brought here
posthumously for burial, because the Egyptians believed that the entrance to
the underworld lay in the desert hills just west of this site.
Although it belongs to a time long after the era of the great pharaohs had
passed, the Greco-Roman Temple of Hathor at Dendara offers a fantastic ancient
Egyptian experience. It is one of the very few temples that remain almost
completely intact, with a massive stone roof, dark chambers, underground
passages, and towering columns topped by Hathor-headed capitals.