Luxor Travel Guide
About The Luxor City
Thebes, the land of the rising sun, the city of the palaces, Luxor was one of the most important capitals of ancient Egypt for more than 1500 years. The city greatly flourished during the reign of the New Kingdom when it witnessed the construction of many startling buildings like the Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple.
Internationally famous for being the largest open-air museum in the whole world, it is said that Luxor hosts more than one-third of all the historical sites in the whole globe. Luxor is mainly divided into the two sections: the West Bank of the Nile, or the city of the dead in ancient Egypt, and the East Bank of the Nile; the city of the living.
Luxor had many names throughout its glorious history. These names include Thebes as named by the ancient Egyptians, the city of the hundred doors in reference to a large number of temples erected in the city, the city of a scepter as a symbol of the power of the rulers of the city.
When the Arabs took control of Egypt in the middle of the 7th century, they were so impressed with Luxor and its monuments and this is the reason why they called Luxor or the City of the Palaces due to the huge constructions established on its banks.
If one wants to identify exactly the monuments located in Luxor, it would surely be a difficult task due to the large number and the diversity of the historical sites of Thebes.
The highlights of Luxor include, in the East Bank; The Karnak Temple, the largest Pharaonic Temple in the world, The Luxor Temple, ” built over the reigns of many kings. Newly crowned pharaohs often dismantled monuments built by their ancestors, constructing their own with re-used blocks or over-carving reliefs in their own name” The Luxor Museum, the Mummification Museum which was established recently to document and illustrate the whole complicated mummification process of the ancient Egyptian priests.
If we move to the West Bank; the city of the dead, there is The Valley of the Kings, the ancient necropolis of the kings of the dynasties from the 18th till the 21st where Howard Carter discovered the famous Tut Ankh Amun tomb in 1922, the Valley of the Queens, The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, the Ramssieum, the Mortuary Temple of Ramses II, the Valley of the Queens, the Colossi of Memnon, and the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III which is called the Temple of Madinat Habu. This is in addition to some less visited monuments like the tombs of the Nobles and Deir El Madina Necropolis which was A community of expert workmen, sculptors, artists, architects, and scribes, lived in the west bank and practiced skills unparalleled elsewhere in the Nile Valley.
Luxor rose to prominence in modern times at the end of the nineteenth century when it was part of the ‘grand tour’. Archaeologists were discovering many wonders in this ancient land and wealthy European and American visitors flocked to Luxor as the first tourists.
Today the modern town of Luxor has the rich façade of tourism and this is where a large proportion of Egyptian income comes from. But behind the restored monuments, the rows of cruise ships and coaches along the Corniche and the vibrant tourist bazaars is the Thebes of ancient times.
The way of life has little changed in the scruffy back streets of the town and the alleyways of the villages on the West Bank where the population ekes out a living from the land and the river.
The Theban people are friendly and welcoming, their customs and hospitalities have remained the same for hundreds of years and it is easy to forget that most of them rely in some way on tourism for their livelihood.
If you bother to scratch the modern veneer, you will find that the spirit of ancient Thebes is still very much alive in Luxor. It is this spirit that makes visitors want to return and return again!