Luxor Tourist Information

 
 
 
 

Valley of the Kings

The Valley of The Kings stands on the west bank of the Nile, within the heart of the Theban Necropolis its consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs are situated) and West Valley The Pharaohs adopted a plan of concealing their tombs in the western hills behind Dayr al-Baḥrī, fearing for the safety of their rich burials. This isolated valley dominated by the pyramid-shaped mountain peak of Al Qurn has 63 magnificent royal tombs. It is the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The first Pharaoh to be buried in the Valley of the Kings was Tuthmosis I. Over the next 500 years many more Pharaohs were buried there including many of the Rameses (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, IX, X), Hatshepsut, Amenhotep I, and Tutankhamun. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues as to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the Pharaohs. The plan of the tombs varies considerably but consists essentially of a descending corridor interrupted by deep shafts to baffle robbers and by pillared chambers or vestibules. At the furthest end of the corridor is a burial chamber with a stone sarcophagus in which the royal mummy was laid and store chambers around which furniture and equipment were stacked for the king’s use in the next world. The walls were in many cases covered with sculptured and painted scenes depicting the dead king in the presence of deities, especially the gods of the underworld, designed to help him on his journey. Astronomical figures decorate the ceilings of several burial chambers. 

Temple of Hatshepsut

A daughter of King Thutmose I, Hatshepsut became queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother, Thutmose II, around the age of 12. Upon his death, she began acting as regent for her stepson, the infant Thutmose III, but later took on the full powers of a Pharaoh, becoming co-ruler of Egypt around 1473 B.C. She was one of the greatest queens and the second who ruled ancient Egypt. Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt, the dates of her reign are debated by historians, but she is thought to have ruled Egypt for 22 years from 1470 to 1458 BC.

Her rise to power was noteworthy as it required her to utilize her bloodline, education, and an understanding of religion. Her bloodline was impeccable as she was the daughter, sister, and wife of a king. Her understanding of religion allowed her to establish herself as the God’s Wife of Amen.

As Pharaoh, Hatshepsut extended Egyptian trade and oversaw ambitious building projects, most notably the Temple of Deir el-Bahri, located in western Thebes, where she would be buried. Depicted (at her own orders) as a male in many contemporary images and sculptures, Hatshepsut remained largely unknown to scholars until the 19th century. During her reign Hatshepsut was successful in re-establishing trade relationships that had been disrupted by a foreign occupation of Egypt by the Hyksos people. It is this success in economic matters that led to her being regarded as such a successful ruler. The most famous of these trading relationships was with the land of Punt (placed by historians in central Africa), an accomplishment immortalized in the reliefs of her mortuary temple on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor.  

Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon  are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh

Amenhotep III, who reigned in Egypt  They are located west of the city of Luxor and face east looking toward the Nile River. The twin statues depict Amenhotep III  in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards towards the river. Two shorter figures are carved into the front      throne alongside his legs: these are his wife Tiye and mother Mutemwiya. The side panels depict the Nile god Hapy.The figures rise 60 ft (18 meters) high and weigh 720 tons each; both carved from single blocks of sandstone.Both statues are quite damaged, with the features above the waist virtually unrecognizable.

These magnificent colossi, sat at the eastern entrance to the funerary temple of Amenophis III, the largest on the west bank. They were constructed as guardians for Amenhotep III's mortuary complex which once stood behind them. a massive construction built during the pharaoh's lifetime, where he was worshipped as a god-on-earth both before and after his departure from this world. In its day, this temple complex was the largest and most opulent in Egypt. Covering a total of 35 hectares.  Earthquakes, floods, and the ancient practice of using older monuments and buildings as resource material for new structures all contributed to the disappearance of this enormous complex, little of it remains today except for the two colossal statues. A stone slab, also now in the Egyptian Museum, describes the temple as being built from ‘white sandstone, with gold throughout, a floor covered with silver, and doors covered with electrum’. No gold or silver has yet been found. Egyptologists are currently excavating the temple and their discoveries can be seen behind the colossi.

Karnak Temple

Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings in Luxor. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I in the Middle Kingdom and continued into the Ptolemaic period,

The area around Karnak was the main place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty, it was part of the monumental city of Thebes.  Karnak complex gives its name to the nearby, and partly surrounded, modern village of El-Karnak, 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) north of Luxor. 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. Karnak is divided into three compounds: the precinct of Amun, the precinct of Mut, and the precinct of Montu; however, for most visitors the largest of these, the precinct of Amun, is enough. Combining the achievements of many generations of ancient builders over a period of 1500 years. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. The precinct of Amun contains all of the most famous sections of the Karnak complex, and the size and number of features are overwhelming.  One famous aspect of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall an 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 architraves on top of these columns are estimated to weigh 70 tons. These architraves may have been lifted to these heights using levers. This would be an extremely time-consuming process and also would require great balance to get to such great heights. 

Like all of the major sights in Egypt, Karnak as has a sound and light show has is offered in several different languages. 

Medinet Habu

Medinet Habu is the Arabic name for the mortuary temple of Ramses III. Located on the west bank of Luxor, this temple made of sandstone is the second largest complex in the area, the first being Karnak. Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose III built the Medinet Habu temple; Ramses III later chose the site as his memorial temple, enclosing the original temple inside his complex it. At its height, Medinet 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. The temple contains more than 7,000 m2 of decorated wall reliefs. Its walls are relatively well preserved and it is surrounded by a massive mudbrick enclosure, The main temple is the great memorial temple of Ramesses III, the best preserved of all mortuary temples.  You enter the site through the unique Syrian Gate, a large two-storey building modelled after a Syrian fortress, to the left of the first court are the remains of the Pharaoh’s Palace; the three rooms at the rear were for the royal harem. On the grounds of the entire temple complex, however, are numerous other structures, there are the memorial chapels of the Divine Adoratrices of Amun. Less well preserved is the memorial temple of King Horemheb, which he usurped from his predecessor Ay, that stands on the north side of the Ramesses III enclosure. To its east are a number of tomb chapels made for high officials of the later new Kingdom. Walk the extensive ruins around the funerary temple, you will see the remains of an early Christian basilica well, a small sacred lake and, on the south side of the temple, the outline of the palace and the window, looking into the temple courtyard, where Ramses would appear.

Through the centuries, ancient Egyptians, as well as modern day local farmers considered the Medinet Habu temple to have magical powers. In Coptic times, there was a church inside the temple structure, which has since been removed. Some of the carvings in the main wall of the temple have been altered by coptic carvings.

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in the city today known as Luxor, constructed approximately 1400 BCE. Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death. instead Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned in reality or conceptually. To the rear of the temple are chapels built by Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty, and Alexander. Other parts of the temple were built by Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. This huge temple complex was the center of the ancient faith while power was concentrated at Thebes (modern day Luxor) and its significance is reflected in its enormous size. In addition to its religious significance, it also served as a treasury, administrative center, and palace for the New Kingdom Pharaohs.   

In the 14th century, a mosque was built in one of the interior courts for the local sheikh (holy man) Abu Al Haggag. The temple is less complex than Karnak, In front of the temple is the beginning of the Avenue of Sphinxes that runs all the way to the temples at Karnak 3km to the north, and is now almost entirely excavated.The massive 24m-high first pylon was raised by Ramses II and decorated with reliefs of his military exploits,The pylon was originally fronted by six colossal statues of Ramses II, four seated and two standing, but only two of the seated figures and one standing remain. Beyond lies the Great Court of Ramses II, surrounded by a double row of columns with lotus-bud capitals. On the south (rear) wall is a procession of 17 sons of Ramses II with their names and titles. In the northwestern corner of the court is the earlier triple-barque shrine built by Hatshepsut. Beyond the court is the older, splendid Colonnade of Amenhotep III, The walls behind the elegant open papyrus columns were decorated during the reign of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun. South of the Colonnade is the Sun Court of Amenhotep III, In 1989 workmen found a cache of 26 statues here, buried by priests in Roman times, now displayed in the Luxor Museum. Beyond lies the Hypostyle Hall.

Valley of the Nobles

Located on the West bank of Luxor, extending over a huge surface area between the Ramesseum and Hatshepsut’s temple, is the The Theban Necropolis namely the Tombs of the Nobles. Numerous tombs are located here with  burial places of some who were the most powerful courtiers and people  of the ancient City. The Valley of the Nobles site includes nearly 500 tombs, while the royal tombs were hidden away in an isolated valley, the Tombs of the Nobles were dug in the mountain overlooking the river Nile, as they wouldn’t have contained even a fraction of the royal treasure The tombs range from civil servants, Generals, Nobles,wealthy and elite people with grander tombs.  Currently, it is allowed to visit around 15 tombs and usually offered on a group visit basis. Not all of the site and area can be accessed, however, it does include such Tombs as Sennofer who at that time was the Mayor of Thebes (the Old name for the now City of Luxor). This tomb has some beautiful original paintings of harvesting scenes and grapevines. A very grand Tomb included in this worthy visit, is the tomb of the Noble Ramose which offers a glimpse of life at that time under the rule of Akhenaten, one of the earliest rulers to follow the monotheistic fait.In the period of the New Kingdom. Valley of the Nobles were very humble and not large or extravagant like the tombs of the Kings. The tombs had inscriptions of the tomb owners on them with some having a short prayer. Each one of the tombs was able to convey the full life story of their inhabitants through the wonderful decorations on the tomb walls depicting every detail of their lives.

Carter House

In 1922, Howard Carter made headlines when he discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, rocking the world of Egyptology. Carter’s home, which reopened as a museum in 2009, displays tools the archaeologist used in excavations and a collection of photographs of his work in progress. Though his home was left to decay for many decades following his departure from Egypt in 1939, the Egyptian government eventually restored it completely and subsequently opened it for public tours. visiting the museum creates an appreciation regarding Carter’s life work and his love of all things Egyptian. Visitors to Howard Carter House are allowed to see the many objects that Carter once used in his daily life while he was working and living in Egypt. see the photo lab he used, along with his cameras and other photography equipment. His original desk is likewise still in the house, as is the library he kept. The most interesting things however, are items relating to the excavation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb which are on display. Carter continued to live there after the tomb was uncovered, meticulously cataloging the contents in his office and laboratory on the site.

He was a relatively wealthy Englishman who had spent his entire life in England. When he moved to Egypt, he would have had to have sacrificed many conveniences which would have been readily available in England. Visitors can see the oven he once used, that needed to be ventilated by hand outdoors also his manual record player, along with many other devices which had to be operated by hand because of no electricity. A visit to the museum also includes a 20 minute narration which, thanks to technology, is given by Carter himself. After that visitors can then wander around the rooms and take in all of the sights.

Luxor Museum

The Luxor Museum was inaugurated in 1975. It is a two-story building that prides itself on the quality of the pieces it has, the uncluttered way in which they are displayed, and the clear multilingual labeling. The modern building is extremely spacious with plenty of room to move around and view beautifully displayed objects and sculpture in peaceful low-lit surroundings. Many of the free-standing granite statues depict kings, queens, and high-status officials who left their images in the Theban temples,  among the items on display are grave goods from the tomb of the 18th dynasty pharaoh Tutankhamun and a collection of 26 New Kingdom statues that were found buried in the nearby Luxor Temple in 1989. Tutankhamun is well-represented by some of the objects from his tomb in the Valley of the Kings which are not currently on display in the Cairo Museum. Included among these is the famous majestic head of a cow goddess, of resin and gilded wood, which is one of the first items the visitor will see when entering the museum. There are exhibits of offering tables, tomb furniture, and many small statuettes and shabtis. In glass cases in the centre of the upper floor are smaller objects such as jewellery, funerary and ritual items and artefacts from daily life. A major exhibit on the upper floor is a reconstruction of one of the walls of Akhenaten's temple at Karnak .The small decorated sandstone blocks (talatat) were discovered when the ninth pylon at Karnak Temple was dismantled for reconstruction work, individual talatat blocks on which the famous reliefs were carved can be seen in many museums, but here the ‘Talatat Wall’ represents the only successful attempt at reconstructing a whole wall of the blocks. A new annex to Luxor Museum houses many artefacts new to the museum, as well as some of the artworks from the original galleries. The main section of the extension has a military theme and is partly devoted to Egypt’s glorious empire. The main gallery includes weaponry and a hunting chariot of Tutankhamun. The upper level contains some superb statues,  as well as many fascinating objects related to technology and the arts. The new facilities include a visitor centre, bookshop and cafeteria. 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 annexe .The modern purpose built museum consists of only one room, but the visitor is guided around well-lit and beautifully displayed exhibits and story boards which describe the process of mummification from beginning to end, as well as the religious customs associated with burials.The purpose of mummification in ancient Egypt was to preserve the body of the deceased so that they could dwell in the afterlife, in the realm of the gods.

 
 
 
 

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