Luxor, Egypt – The city on the east bank of the Nile River that is rich with lots of historical tombs, museums, monuments, and temples that made it the world’s greatest open-air museum. Luxor is the place where the kings and queens of old Egypt were crowned.
Luxor, Egypt, is the city that tourists visit for two different reasons: first of all, it is filled with lots of historical museums and temples which people get astonished by. Second, being placed by the Nile River give this city a different look and atmosphere, one that makes people happy with the view which they might as well receive from their hotel rooms.
History of Luxor
If Luxor is on the list of your next destinations, you are lucky! This city is home to one-third of the world’s monuments! The Greek called the city “Thebes” while the ancient Egyptians called it “Waset”. For its significance, the city was the capital of Upper Egypt during the New Kingdom. Luxor is a city that combines the greatness of the past and the present. There stand lots and lots of ancient Egyptian monuments and remains along with the structures of the modern city.
Being that significant in regards of weather, nature and historical importance among other cities, Luxor attracts thousands of visitors from around the world to explore the greatness of the city and enjoy the open air museum from the temple of Karnak and Luxor temple to the valley of the kings and the valley of the queens as well as other beautiful monuments and burials scattered around the city will definitely take your breath away.
The extraordinary historical spots of Luxor are mainly located by the Nile River. Honestly, the scene cannot be described, but image the Nile river flowing between the ancient city where the great civilization was built and the modern city. In fact, the ancient Egyptian beliefs contributed a lot in the ancient Egyptian civilization and Luxor is a great example.
Luxor started to attract the traveler from the western side of the world by the end of the 18th century.
According to the dictionary, Luxor is defined as “a city in eastern Egypt, on the east bank of the River Nile.” It is known for being “the site of the southern part of ancient Thebes and contains the ruins of the temple built by Amenhotep III and of monuments erected by Ramses II.” But have you ever thought about the meaning of the word “Luxor” itself?! Well, if you know Arabic you might know what does it mean, but not necessarily. Many and many native Arabic speakers never thought about the meaning of the word. The name “Luxor” is actually coming from the Arabic word “Al-uqsur” which means “palaces”. This word might actually be borrowed from the Latin word “castrum” which means “fortified camp.”
Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings “Wadi Al Molook” in Arabic, also known as Valley of the Gates of the Kings, is one of the most interesting areas in Egypt. The valley is a royal necropolis that has been surviving for thousands of years. This place has sixty-three amazing royal burials with treasures and belongs that survived since the time of ancient Egypt. The necropolis is located in a special area on the west bank of the Nile. This area is known for the top of a pyramid-shaped mountain named “Al Qurn” which is translated in English as “The Horn”.
Most noteworthy, the Valley of the Kings became a royal burial by the time of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt (1539 – 1075 B.C.). The valley is a place where many of the most important rulers and significant people in ancient Egypt from the 18th, 19th, and the 20th dynasties. These people include King Tutankhamun, King Seti I, King Ramses II, many queens, elites and higher priests.
As they believed in the afterlife, a new life where good people are promised eternity and pharaohs are turning to Gods, the ancient Egyptians prepared the burials of the valley with almost everything a person would need in the afterlife. Ancient Egyptians used the mummification method to preserve the bodies of the dead so that the soul could easily find it in the afterlife. They also decorated the tombs of the kings with writings and drawings from the ancient Egyptian mythologies which actually gives us in the modern period an image of how the religious and funerary beliefs were back then. Unfortunately, the tombs were a great attraction to thieves among the year yet archaeologists found in the tombs of the valley food, beer, wine, jewelry, furniture, clothes, sacred and religious objects, and any other things the dead might need in his afterlife even their pets.
After the discovery of 62 tombs in the valley people thought that’s all that can be found in it. Until 1922, when Howard Carter the British archaeologist and Egyptologist, discovered an amazing burial of a boy king named Tutankhamun who happened to be a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Then again in 2005, Otto Schaden, the American Egyptologist, and his team discovered the first unknown tomb since the discovery of King Tut’s burial chamber in 1922. The team discovered the tomb, KV 63, around 15 meters from the walls of Tut’s burial. The tomb had no mummy, but the team found sarcophagi, flowers, pottery, and other belongings.
What’s impressive about the Valley of the Kings is that it has been an attraction to robbers (almost all the tombs were robbed at some point) yet it still surprises us by the beautiful and artistic burials archaeologists find. Some believe that the valley is still going to surprise us with more hidden burials and secrets from ancient Egypt, and we hope it does!
Valley of the Queens
The Valley of Queens, in Arabic, is known as “Wadi Al Malekat”, is another famous necropolis on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor. The site was created to be a burial for the wives of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs as well as the princes, princesses and other noble people. In ancient Egypt, they referred to the Valley of the Queens as “Ta-Set-Neferu” which means “the place of beauty”. And it’s actually a place of beauty!
Archaeologist Christian Leblanc divided the Valley of the Queens to many valleys. There is the main valley which hosts most of the tombs (around 91 tombs). And there are other valleys which go as follows: the Valley of the Prince Ahmose, the Valley of the Rope, the Valley of the Three Pits, and the Valley of the Dolmen. Those secondary valleys contain around 19 tombs, and all of them date back to the 18th dynasty.
These burials include the tomb of Queen Nefertari, the favorite wife of Pharaoh Ramses II. Those who visited the site say that the tomb of Queen Nefertari one of the most beautiful burials in Egypt. The tomb has beautiful paintings portraying the queen being guided by the Gods.
No one knows the reason why the ancient Egyptian chose this place specifically to be the burial place of the queens. But it might be because it’s relatively close to the Valley of the Kings and the worker’s village in Deir el-Medina. At the entryway of the Valley of the Queens stands the sacred grotto of the great Goddes Hathor, and this might also be a reason why the ancient Egyptians picked this place specifically. Some believe that the grotto is related to the restoration of the dead.
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
This is one of the top masterpieces in the history of ancient Egypt. The Mortuary Temple of the famous queen Hatshepsut is an extraordinary construction standing 300 meters on the top of the desert at the area of Al Deir Al Bahari in Luxor. It is located on the west bank of the Nile River near the Valley of the Kings. The temple’s design and architecture have a unique modern touch. The temple is also known as “Djeser-Djeseru” which means “Holy of Holies”. According to a lot of experts, the temple is considered as one of the “incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt.”
The beautiful construction belongs to the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut from the 18th dynasty. The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut was mainly devoted to God Amun, the God of the sun. Also, the temple’s location is very close to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II. Interestingly, the temple of Mentuhotep kind of had a role in building Hatshepsut temple as they used it as both an inspiration and later as a quarry.
The royal architect, Senenmut, built the temple for Queen Hatshepsut. Rumor has it that Senenmut was also Hatshepsut’s lover. The design of the temple is a bit unusual and distinctive, but that’s due to the fact that it didn’t have all the characteristics of a mortuary temple. However, they had to customize it to the site they chose. The temple lies on the same line as the Temple of Amun and the Shrine of Goddess Hathor.
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut includes pylons, courts, hypostyle, sun court, chapel, and sanctuary. The great construction has been through a lot, many tried to destroy it over the centuries. Interestingly, Christians turned it into a monastery at some point calling it “Al Deir Al Bahari” which is translated as “The Monastery of the North”, and that’s why some people still call it Al Deir Al Bahari. The site of the temple is considered as one of the hottest places, so if you’re planning on visiting it you better do it early in the morning. You can also see the details of the temple in low sunlight. The great court will lead you to the complex where you will find the roots of original ancient trees.
The center line of the temple is positioned in an azimuth of around 116½° and is lined up to the winter solstice sunrise. This, according to our modern times, is around the 21st or the 22nd of December every year. That’s when the sunlight passes through reaching the back wall of the chapel then moves to the right falling on one of the Osiris’s statues which are positioned on both sides of the entrance of the second chamber.
If you are visiting in these two days you can be lucky enough to experience the sunlight slowly moving from the central spot on the temple to throw the light on the God Amun Ra the moving to the statue of the kneeling Thutmose III, then the sunrays will finally throw their lights on the Nile God, Hapi. The magic doesn’t stop at this point; in fact, the sunlight reaches the innermost chamber during around 41 days of both sides of the solstice. Furthermore, the Ptolemaic reconstructed the inner chapel of the temple. In this chapel, you can find cult references to Pharaoh Imhotep the builder of pyramid Djoser as well as Amenhotep the son of Hapu.
Luxor Temple is a huge ancient Egyptian complex standing on the east bank of the River Nile. The ancient Egyptians built the large chapel around 1400 B.C.E. Luxor Temple is known in the old ancient Egyptian language as “ipet resyt” which means “the southern sanctuary”. This chapel is a bit different from the others in Luxor, and it is not built in devotion for a cult God or the worshipped version of the God of Death. But in fact, it’s built for the renewal of kingship.
On the back of the temple, there are chapels built by Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty and the Alexander. There are also other parts of Luxor temple which were built by Kings Tutankhamun and King Ramesses II. The significance of this amazing construction extends to the Roman period where it was used as a fortress and a house to the Roman regimen as well as its surrounding parts.
The ancient Egyptians built the temple from sandstone brought from Gebel el-Silsila area. This sandstone is also known as “the Nubian sandstone” as it’s brought from the southwestern part of Egypt. Actually, this sandstone was used both in the past and the present. The ancient Egyptians used it to construct monuments as well as reconstructing monuments. These Nubian sandstones are used in modern times for the reconstruction processes as well.
What’s magnificent about the ancient Egyptian buildings is that they always have symbolism and also illusionism. For instance, there is a sanctuary inside the temple that is actually shaped like an Anubis Jackal! Also at the entrance of the temple, there were two obelisks that weren’t even in height, but if you looked at them you wouldn’t feel the difference, they would give you an illusion that they have the same height. Those two obelisks are now placed in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
The temple wasn’t actually excavated until 1884. During medieval times and after the Muslims started to inhabit Egypt, some Muslim population lived inside and around the temple. Mainly at the southern part of the mountain. So as a result of this and as a result of the past population as well, there was a huge hill of scrap that accumulated by time and buried a huge part of the temple (almost three-quarters of it). In fact, the mount was actually big that it was around 15 meters in height. In addition to the scrap mountain, there were also barracks, shops, houses, huts, and pigeon towers. In 1884, the French Egyptologist, Professor Gaston Maspero started to excavate the site and remove all the things that have been covering the temple. The process of excavation lasted till 1960.
The ancient Egyptians built the Luxor Temple during the New Kingdom. They mainly devoted it to the Theban Triad of the cult of the Royal Ka: God Amun (the God of the Sun), Goddess Mut (the mother Goddess and the Goddess of water from which everything is born), and God Khonsu (the God of the moon). The temple had a great significance during the Opet festival of which the Thebans parade with the statue of Amun and Mut between the Karnak temple and the Luxor Temple in celebration of their marriage and fertility specifically.
According to specialists, there are obvious examples of the Royal Ka cult in the temple. For example, it can be found in the colossal seated statues of the Pharaoh Ramses II placed at the Pylon. Also at the entry of the Colonnade there are figures of the king personifying the Royal Ka.
The temple was built by Amenhotep III (1390-52 BC) but completed by Tutankhamun (1336-27 BC) and Horemheb (1323-1295 BC) and then added to by Rameses II (1279-13 BC). Toward the rear is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great (332-305 BC).
The temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship right up to the present day. During the Christian era, the temple’s hypostyle hall was converted into a Christian church, and the remains of another Coptic church can be seen to the west. Then for thousands of years, the temple was buried beneath the streets and houses of Luxor. Eventually the mosque of Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj was built over it. This mosque was carefully preserved when the temple was uncovered and forms an integral part of the site today.
Before the building works by Rameses II the northern end of the court was originally the entrance to the temple. It was an enclosed colonnade of seven pairs of 52-foot (16m) high open-flower papyrus columns. It was begun by Amenhotep III and completed by Tutankhamun and still support its huge
Avenue of Sphinxes
One of the greatest places in Luxor that you shouldn’t miss! The avenue of the Sphinxes is a pathway of around 1,350 sphinxes with human heads that extends for more than 3 kilometers. This pathway actually connects both Luxor Temple and Al Karnak Temple. The ancient Egyptians used this avenue during the Opet festival when they paraded along this pathway carrying the figures the God Amun and the Goddess Mut in a symbolic renewal of their marriage. The building of the avenue of Sphinxes started during the New Kingdom and lasted until the 30th Dynasty. Later during the Ptolemaic Era, Queen Cleopatra reconstructed this pathway. According to historians, there were many stations along the avenue and they served many purposes. For example, station number four was serving in cooling the oar of Amun, stations number five was serving each of those sphinxes had a role of their own such as cooling the oar of God Amun or receiving the beauty of God Amun.
Along the avenue the stations were set up for ceremonies such as the Feast of Opet which held significance to temple. Each station had a purpose, for example the fourth station was the station of Kamare, which cooled the oar of Amun. The Fifth station of Kamare was the station which received the beauty of Amun. Lastly the Sixth Station of Kamare was a shrine for Amun, Holy of Steps.
Cult temple dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu. The largest religious building ever constructed.
The temple of Karnak was known as Ipet-isu—or “most select of places”—by the ancient Egyptians. It is a city of temples built over 2,000 years and dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. This derelict place is still capable of overshadowing many wonders of the modern world and in its day must have been awe-inspiring.
The complex is a vast open site and includes the Karnak Open Air Museum. It is believed to be the secondmost visited historical site in Egypt; only the Giza Pyramids near Cairo receive more visits. It consists of four main parts, of which only the largest is currently open to the general public. The term Karnak often is understood as being the Precinct of Amun-Ra only, because this is the only part most visitors see. The three other parts, the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu, and the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV, are closed to the public. There also are a few smaller temples and sanctuaries connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amun-Re, and the Luxor Temple.
The Precinct of Mut is very ancient, being dedicated to an Earth and creation deity, but not yet restored. The original temple was destroyed and partially restored by Hatshepsut, although another pharaoh built around it in order to change the focus or orientation of the sacred area. Many portions of it may have been carried away for use in other buildings.
The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom and continued into Ptolemaic times. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming. The deities represented range from some of the earliest worshiped to those worshiped much later in the history of the Ancient Egyptian culture.
For the largely uneducated ancient Egyptian population, this could only have been the place of the gods. It is the largest religious building ever made, covering about 200 acres (1.5 km by 0.8 km), and was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 2,000 years. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun alone is sixty-one acres and could hold ten average European cathedrals. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big that St Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls.
The Hypostyle hall, at 54,000 square feet (16,459 meters) and featuring 134 columns, is still the largest room of any religious building in the world. In addition to the main sanctuary there are several smaller temples and a vast sacred lake – 423 feet by 252 feet (129 by 77 meters). The sacred barges of the Theban Triad once floated on the lake during the annual Opet festival. The lake was surrounded by storerooms and living quarters for the priests, along with an aviary for aquatic birds.
The Egyptians believed that towards the end of annual agricultural cycle the gods and the earth became exhausted and required a fresh input of energy from the chaotic energy of the cosmos.
To accomplish this magical regeneration the Opet festival was held yearly at Karnak and Luxor. It lasted for twenty-seven days and was also a celebration of the link between pharaoh and the god Amun. The procession began at Karnak and ended at Luxor Temple, one and a half miles (2.4 kilometres) to the south.
The statue of the god Amun was bathed with holy water, dressed in fine linen, and adorned in gold and silver jewellery. The priests then placed the god in a shrine and onto the ceremonial barque supported by poles for carrying. Pharaoh emerged from the temple, his priests carrying the barque on their shoulders, and together they moved into the crowded streets. A troop of Nubian soldiers serving as guards beat their drums, and musicians accompanied the priests in song as incense filled the air.
At Luxor, (right) Pharaoh and his priests entered the temple and ceremonies were performed to regenerate Amun, recreate the cosmos and transfer Amun’s power to Pharaoh. When he finally emerged from the temple sanctuary, the vast crowds cheered him and celebrated the guaranteed fertility of the earth and the expectation of abundant harvests.
During the festival the people were given over 11000 loaves of bread and more than 385 jars of beer, and some were allowed into the temple to ask questions of the god. The priests spoke the answers through a concealed window high up in the wall, or from inside hollow statues.
Karnak Temple Hypostyle Hall
One famous aspect of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re, a hall area of 50,000 sq ft (5,000 m2) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows. 122 of these columns are 10 meters tall, and the other 12 are 21 meters tall with a diameter of over three meters.
The massive columns in the hypostyle hall dwarfs the people and there is still some paint surviving on the under side of the capitals.
The hall covers an area of 50,000 sq ft (5,000 sq meters) and filled with 134 gigantic stone columns with 12 larger columns standing 80 feet (24 m) high lining the central aisle.
The hall was built by Seti I who inscribed the northern wing. The outer walls depict Seti’s battles.
The southern wing was completed by Ramesses II but he usurped the decorations of his father along the main processional walk ways. The south wall is inscribed with a record of Ramesses II’s peace treaty with the Hittites which he signed in 21st year of his reign.
Later pharaohs including Ramesses III, Ramesses IV and Ramesses VI added inscriptions to the walls and the columns.
The Kiosk of Tahraqa
Taharqa was the fourth king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty and also king of his native Kush; located in Northern Sudan. The remains of this huge kiosk, built by 25th Dynasty pharaoh Taharqa (690-664 B.C.) originally consisted of ten twenty-one meter high papyrus columns linked by a low screening wall. Today there is only one great column still standing. It is believed that it was a barque chapel (or Station) although some Egyptologists think it may have been used in ritual activities to join with the sun
Precinct of Amun-Re
This is the largest of the precincts of the temple complex, and is dedicated to Amun-Re, the chief deity of the Theban Triad. There are several colossal statues including the figure of Pinedjem I which is 10.5 meters tall. The sandstone for this temple, including all the columns, was transported from Gebel Silsila 100 miles (161 km) south on the Nile river. It also has one of the largest obelisks, weighing 328 tonnes and standing 29 meters tall.
Precinct of Mut
Located to the south of the newer Amen-Re complex, this precinct was dedicated to the mother goddess, Mut, who became identified as the wife of Amun-Re in the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad. It has several smaller temples associated with it and has its own sacred lake, constructed in a crescent shape. This temple has been ravaged, many portions having been used in other structures. Following excavation and restoration works by the Johns Hopkins University team, led by Betsy Bryan (see below) the Precinct of Mut has been opened to the public. Six hundred black granite statues were found in the courtyard to her temple. It may be the oldest portion of the site.
Precinct of Montu
The area covers about 20,000 m². Most monuments are poorly preserved.
The main features of the Precinct of Montu are the Temple of Montu, Temple of Harpre, Temple of Ma’at, a sacred lake and the Gateway of Ptolemy III Euergetes / Ptolemy IV Philopator, which is the most visible structure on the site and can be easily seen from inside the Precinct of Amon-Re. This gateway is also called Bab el’Adb.
The temple of Montu consisted of the traditional parts of an Egyptian temple with a pylon, court and rooms filled with columns. The ruins of the temple date to the reign of Amenhotep III who rebuilt the sanctuary dating from the Middle Kingdom era and dedicated it to Montu-Re. Ramesses II increased the size of the temple by adding a forecourt and erecting two obelisks there. A large court with gantry gave on hypostyle open on the court, characteristic of the buildings of the reign of Amenhotep I. The sanctuary is made up as follows: a room with four columns serving various vaults of the worship and giving on the room of the boat which preceded the naos by the god. Nearby in Medamud was another Temple of Montu.
Luxor Museum is an archaeological museum in Luxor (ancient Thebes), Egypt. It stands on the corniche, overlooking the west bank of the River Nile.
One of the best displays of antiquities in Egypt is located at the Luxor Museum opened in 1975. Housed within a modern building, the collection is limited in the number of items, but they are beautifully displayed.
The admission price is high, but it is well worth the visit. Visiting hours can be somewhat restricted, so find out upon arrival in Luxor.
Upon entering the museum, there is a small giftshop on the right. Once inside the main museum area, two of the first items that catch one’s attention are an enormous red granite head of Amenhotep III and the cow-goddess head from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Spaced out around the ground floor are masterpieces of sculpture including a calcite double statue of the crocodile god Sobek and the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III (below right). It was discovered at the bottom of a water-filled shaft in 1967.
A ramp leads upstairs to more marvellous antiquities, including some items from Tutankhamun’s tomb suc as boats, sandles and arrows.
One of the major items of the whole museum is located upstairs – a reassembled wall of 283 painted sandstone blocks from a wall in the dismantled temple built at Karnak for Amenhotep IV (the heretic king Akhenaten of the 18th Dynasty).
There are numerous other antiquities of interest including a couple of very nice coffins. The museum also houses items from periods after the demise of pharaonic Egypt.
On returning to the ground floor, there is a gallery on the left (outbound)where there is a wonderful collection stone sculptures found in 1989 under one of the courtyards within Luxor Temple.
Among the items on display are grave goods from the tomb of the 18th dynasty pharaoh Tutankhamun (KV62) and a collection of 26 New Kingdom statues that were found buried in the Luxor statue cache in the nearby Luxor Temple in 1989. The royal mummies of two pharaohs – Ahmose I and Ramesses I – were also put on display in the Luxor Museum in March 2004, as part of the new extension to the museum, which includes a small visitor centre. A major exhibit is a reconstruction of one of the walls of Akhenaten’s temple at Karnak. One of the featured items in the collection is a calcite double statue of the crocodile god Sobek and the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III
The Mummification Museum is an archaeological museum in Luxor, Upper Egypt. It is dedicated to the art of Ancient Egyptian mummification. The museum is located in the city of Luxor, the ancient Thebes. It stands on the corniche in front of the Mina Palace Hotel, situated to the north of the Luxor Temple overlooking the Nile river. The museum is intended to provide visitors with an understanding of the ancient art of mummification. The Ancient Egyptians applied embalming techniques to many species, not only to dead humans. Mummies of cats, fish and crocodiles are on display in this unique museum, where one can also get an idea of the tools used.
the Mummification Museum has well-presented exhibits explaining the art of mummification. The museum is small and some may find the entrance fee overpriced.
On display are the well-preserved mummy of a 21st-dynasty high priest of Amun, Maserharti, and a host of mummified animals. Vitrines show the tools and materials used in the mummification process – check out the small spoon and metal spatula used for scraping the brain out of the skull. Several artefacts that were crucial to the mummy’s journey to the afterlife have also been included, as well as some picturesque painted coffins. Presiding over the entrance is a beautiful little statue of the jackal god, Anubis, the god of embalming who helped Isis turn her brother-husband Osiris into the first mummy.
The hall of artifacts is divided into two parts, the first one is ascended corridor through which the visitor could have a look on ten tablets were drawn from the papyri of Ani and Hu-nefer that displayed in the British Museum in London. Most of these tablets throw lights on the funeral journey from death to burial. The second part of the museum began from the end of the corridor and the visitor could see more than sixty pieces, which are displayed in 19 well-advanced cases.
In those 19 display cases, the artefacts are concentrated on eleven topics:
• Gods of ancient Egypt
• Embalming materials
• Organic materials
• Embalming fluid
• Tools of mummification
• Canopic jars
• Coffin of Padiamun
• Mummy of Masaharta
• Mummified animals
Tombs of the Nobles
The Theban Necropolis is located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Luxor, in Egypt. As well as the more famous royal tombs located in the Valley of the Kings and Queens, there are numerous other tombs, more commonly referred to as Tombs of the Nobles, the burial places of some of the powerful courtiers and persons of the ancient city.
There are at least 415 cataloged tombs, designated TT for Theban Tomb. There are other tombs whose position has been lost, or for some other reason do not conform to this classification. See for instance the List of MMA Tombs. Theban tombs tended to have clay Funerary cones placed over the entrance of the tomb chapels. During the New Kingdom they were inscribed with the title and name of the tomb owner, sometimes with short prayers. Of the 400 recorded sets of cones, only about 80 come from cataloged tombs.
These tombs are some of the best least-visited attractions on the west bank. Nestled in the foothills opposite the Ramesseum are more than 400 tombs belonging to nobles from the 6th dynasty to the Graeco-Roman period. Where royal tombs were decorated with cryptic passages from the Book of the Dead to guide them through the afterlife, the nobles, intent on letting the good life continue after their death, decorated their tombs with wonderfully detailed scenes of their daily lives.
There have been several new discoveries on the hillside in recent years, but these tombs are still being studied. Tombs that are open to the public are divided into groups, and each group requires a separate ticket (various prices) from the Antiquities Inspectorate ticket office. The groups are the Tombs of Khonsu, Userhet and Benia; the Tombs of Menna, Nakht and Amenenope; the Tombs of Ramose, Userhet and Khaemhet; Tombs of Sennofer and Rekhmire; and Tombs of Neferronpet, Dhutmosi and Nefersekheru.
The City of Habu
Medinet Habu (Arabic: Arabic: مدينة هابو; Egyptian: Tjamet or Djamet; Coptic: Djeme or Djemi) is an archaeological locality situated near the foot of the Theban Hills on the West Bank of the River Nile opposite the modern city of Luxor, Egypt. Although other structures are located within the area, the location is today associated almost exclusively (and indeed, most synonymously) with the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III.
The Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu is an important New Kingdom period structure in the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. Aside from its size and architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoplesduring the reign of Ramesses III.
Ramses III’s magnificent memorial temple of Medinat Habu, fronted by sleepy Kom Lolah village and backed by the Theban mountains, is one of the west bank’s most underrated sites. This was one of the first places in Thebes closely associated with the local god Amun. At its height, Medinat Habu contained temples, storage rooms, workshops, administrative buildings, a royal palace and accommodation for priests and officials. It was the centre of the economic life of Thebes for centuries.
Although the complex is most famous for the funerary temple built by Ramses III, Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III also constructed buildings here. The first European to describe the temple in modern literature was Vivant Denon, who visited the temple in 1799-1801. Champollion described the temple in detail in 1829
Deir El Madina (Worker’s Village)
Deir el-Medina (Egyptian Arabic: دير المدينة) is an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom of Egypt (ca. 1550–1080 BCE) The settlement’s ancient name was Set maat “The Place of Truth”, and the workmen who lived there were called “Servants in the Place of Truth”. During the Christian era, the temple of Hathor was converted into a church from which the Egyptian Arabic name Deir el-Medina (“the monastery of the town”) is derived.
At the time when the world’s press was concentrating on Howard Carter’s discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, a team led by Bernard Bruyèrebegan to excavate the site. This work has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world that spans almost four hundred years. There is no comparable site in which the organisation, social interactions, working and living conditions of a community can be studied in such detail.
The site is located on the west bank of the Nile, across the river from modern-day Luxor. The village is laid out in a small natural amphitheatre, within easy walking distance of the Valley of the Kings to the north, funerary temples to the east and south-east, with the Valley of the Queens to the west. The village may have been built apart from the wider population in order to preserve secrecy in view of sensitive nature of the work carried out in the tombs
Unlike most villages in ancient Egypt, which grew up organically from small settlements, Deir el-Medina was a planned community. It was founded by Amenhotep I (c.1541-1520 BCE) specifically to house workers on royal tombs because tomb desecration and robbery had become a serious concern by his time. It was decided that the royalty of Egypt would no longer advertise their final resting places with large monuments but, instead, would be buried in a less accessible area in tombs cut into the cliff walls. These areas would become the necropolises now known as the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens and those who lived in the village were known as “Servants in the Place of Truth” for their important role in creating eternal homes and also remaining discreet regarding tomb contents and location.
Deir el-Medina is among the most important archaeological sites in Egypt because of the wealth of information it provides on the daily life of the people who lived there. Serious excavation at the site was begun in 1905 CE by the Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli and furthered by a number of others throughout the 20th century CE with some of the most extensive work done by French archaeologist Bernard Bruyere between 1922-1940 CE. At the same time Howard Carter was bringing the treasures of the royalty to light from Tutankhamun’s tomb, Bruyere was uncovering the lives of the working people who would have created that final resting place.
Malkata (or Malqata), meaning the place where things are picked up in Arabic, is the site of an Ancient Egyptian palace complex built during the New Kingdom, by the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It is located on the West Bank of the Nile at Thebes, Upper Egypt, in the desert to the south of Medinet Habu. The site also included a temple dedicated to Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife, Tiy, and honors Sobek, the crocodile deity.
In all that remains to us of ancient Egypt, the homes of the dead and the homes of the gods have fared far better than the homes of the living. However the huge site of the palace of Malkata, which now lies in ruins, is one of the few places capable of hinting at the splendor of the pharaohs’ lives.
Courtyards, audience-chambers, harems, and a gigantic ceremonial lake have been discovered at the Malkata site. Researchers have found that the walls were covered with bright, delicate paintings, some of which are still faintly visible. Animals, flowers, and the reed-beds along the Nile were all depicted on the walls of the pharaoh’s grand estate. Malkata was a home on the scale of a city, except built for a single ruler. Amenhotep’s wife had her own wing of the huge estate and the artificial lake was built strictly so that the ruler and family could sail on it. The site was so large that there is even a set of apartments known as the “West Villas” that would have housed the various workers and staff on site.
Today, the ruins of Malkata stretch across the desert close to Thebes, still marking the pinnacle of Amenhotep’s 3,000 year old empire.
Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon (also known as el-Colossat or el-Salamat) are two monumental statues representing Amenhotep III (1386-1353 BCE) of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. They are located west of the modern city of Luxor and face east looking toward the Nile River. The statues depict the seated king on a throne ornamented with imagery of his mother, his wife, the god Hapy, and other symbolic engravings. The figures rise 60 ft (18 meters) high and weigh 720 tons each; both carved from single blocks of sandstone.
They were constructed as guardians for Amenhotep III’s mortuary complex which once stood behind them. Earthquakes, floods, and the ancient practice of using older monuments and buildings as resource material for new structures all contributed to the disappearance of the enormous complex. Little of it remains today except for the two colossal statues which once stood at its gates.
Their name comes from the Greek hero Memnon who fell at Troy. Memnon was an Ethiopian king who joined the battle on the side of the Trojans against the Greeks and was killed by the Greek champion Achilles. Memnon’s courage and skill in battle, however, elevated him to the status of a hero among the Greeks. Greek tourists, seeing the impressive statues, associated them with the legend of Memnon instead of Amenhotep III and this link was also suggested by the 3rd century BCE Egyptian historian Manetho who claimed Memnon and Amenhotep III were the same person.
The greek historian described the two statues as follows:
“Here are two colossi, which are near one another and are each made of a single stone; one of them is preserved, but the upper parts of the other, from the seat up, fell when an earthquake took place, so it is said. It is believed that once each day a noise, as of a slight blow, emanates from the part of the latter that remains on the throne and its base; and I too, when I was present at the place with Aelius Gallus and his crowd of associates, both friends and soldiers, heard the noise at about the first hour. (XVII.46)”
Shopping in Luxor
Things to Do in Luxor at Night
How many days do you need in Luxor?
Well, as you see yourself, Luxor has lots and lots of secrets and treasures for you to discover every day. For a place like Luxor, we can tell you to spend there as many days as possible. Or maybe forever?! Don’t blame yourself if you want to stay there forever, it’s totally worth it! If you’re coming to Egypt for a short visit, you better have at least a week for Luxor. Try to travel there using a Nile cruise, the experience is different and you’ll appreciate it. We’re talking about one third the monuments around the world, so a week is only fair. Luxor doesn’t only have ancient Egyptian monuments for you to enjoy. You can also enjoy other activities there; You can spend some time strolling around the markets in Luxor and shop for handmade artifacts, clothes, silver products, and herpes. You can also enjoy a night by the Nile and enjoy riding the cabriolet.