The small ancient city of Luxor is located almost in the center of Egypt, on the banks of the Nile. Due to the incredibly high concentration of famous landmarks, Luxor is often referred to as the largest open-air museum.
Unique monuments from different eras – temples, palaces, tombs of pharaohs and court nobility, as well as giant monuments, magnificent paintings, bas-reliefs and ancient writings – attract a huge number of tourists here every year. Several local attractions – the Karnak and Luxor temples, as well as the Theban necropolises – were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.
City of dead
One part of Luxor on the right bank of the Nile, where the present citizens live, is called the City of the Living. The second part on the left bank is called the City of the Dead, since there are ancient tombs of the pharaohs and sacred temples. The city of the dead has been attracting the attention of archaeologists for several centuries as a source of valuable information about the life of the ancient Egyptians, and also tourists as a mysterious place with which many ancient secrets and legends are connected.
The history of the City of the Dead began over 2000 years ago, when the Egyptian pharaohs were no longer buried in the pyramids. The idea of building a large necropolis belonged to Pharaoh Thutmose I. He was the first to choose a special place for his tomb – in a crypt carved into the rock, far from the main burials. His example was followed by the rulers of the following dynasties.
The main attractions of the City of the Dead:
- Valley of the Kings – the burial place of the Egyptian pharaohs, including the tomb of Tutankhamun;
- Valley of the Queens, where the wives and children of the pharaohs were buried;
- Temple of Queen Hatshepsut; Ramesseum, Medinet Abu, the Colossi of Memnon and other ancient monuments.
Address: Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.
The most famous find in the Valley of the Kings is the tomb of Tutankhamun. Discovered in 1922, the tomb of the youngest Egyptian pharaoh made this place world famous. The special value of the find was that the tomb turned out to be one of the few ancient burials untouched by robbers. In addition, this is the only ancient Egyptian tomb in which the surviving mummy of the pharaoh was found.
In Ancient Egypt, great importance was attached to the life of the soul after death, so the pharaohs, barely ascending the throne, began to prepare their own tombs. The longer the pharaoh lived, the richer the tomb was after his death.
Tutankhamun ruled for only 7 years and died at the age of 19, so his tomb is not very luxurious and not very large in size. On the wall under the sarcophagus, you can see the preserved frescoes with clear lines and bright colors. Inside the tomb, archaeologists found the mummy of a young pharaoh, several sarcophagi with treasures, utensils and burial accessories.
Currently, the contents of the tomb of Tutankhamun are stored and exhibited at the Cairo Archaeological Museum.
Address: Tutankhamun’s Tomb, Kings Valley Road, Luxor, Egypt.
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings, located on the western bank of the Nile, is one of the main attractions of Egypt. In this mysterious place, the ancient Egyptians for centuries – from 1550 to 1070. BC e. – buried pharaohs and their relatives, as well as important officials.
Ramses XI was the last to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. The main thing that attracts tourists here is the ancient tombs, among which the tomb of Tutankhamun, which has been preserved almost in its original form to this day, invariably attracts the greatest interest.
Most of the tombs are located in the eastern part of the Valley of the Kings, and only a few are in the western. Long tunnels lead to tombs carved out of rocks, at the end of which there are burial chambers.
The chambers are built in different ways – horizontal, vertical, in the form of a hall or bedroom, with niches and corridors. In total, 63 tombs were discovered in the valley, but only 15 are available for visits – the tombs of the Ramses dynasty, the pharaohs Thutmose III and IV, and others.
Address: Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
The Karnak Temple (Karnak) with an area of over 100 hectares is one of the greatest construction projects of Ancient Egypt. It began to be erected in the ancient city of Thebes on the right bank of the Nile. In the XX century BC. e.
In total, the construction of the temple lasted for two thousand years, as each subsequent ruler tried to give the structure more luxury and splendor, trying to surpass his predecessor. The giant complex includes numerous massive pylons, temple rooms, chapels, the Avenue of the Sphinxes, as well as halls, huge columns and statues.
Today Karnak Temple is considered the main historical monument of Egypt and the second most visited attraction after the pyramids of Giza. It looks more like a city than a religious building – only its main hall with a colonnade is comparable in size to the cathedrals of St. Paul in London or St. Peter in the Vatican.
The architectural complex includes temples dedicated to the divine triad of Thebes: the supreme creator god Amon-Ra, his wife Mut and their son Khons. The most significant building in Karnak is the Temple of Amon-Ra with 10 giant pylons and a majestic columned hall. To the south of this temple is the Sacred Lake, the water from which the priests used to wash the statues of the gods.
Address: Karnak Temple, Karnak, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
The Luxor Temple, erected on the right bank of the Nile, is a historical monument surrounded on all sides by the bustling streets and shops of the modern city. The monumental architectural structure of Ancient Egypt still amazes with its scale, perfection of forms and proportions, an internal atmosphere of mystery, harmony and tranquility.
For many centuries, the temple was covered with sand; archaeologists began to excavate it only in the middle of the 19th century. Excavations continue to this day, and scientists are sure that the Luxor temple is still fraught with many secrets.
The main part of the Luxor Temple – the sanctuary, colonnade and hypostyle hall – was built in the 14th century BC. e. under Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Subsequent rulers supplemented, expanded and rebuilt the temple complex. The total length of the structure is about 260 m. The entrance is decorated with massive pylons 20 m high and 70 m long.
One of the features of the temple is the huge colonnades with a large number of columns: 41 columns in the temple halls, 14 – in the central colonnade, 64 – in the lobby. A long Avenue of Sphinxes leads to the entrance, connecting the complex with the temple of Karnak. Luxor Temple is decorated with giant statues of pharaohs, and colorful frescoes, reliefs and ancient writings are visible on the columns, in the halls and on the walls of the pylons.
Address: Luxor Temple, Luxor City, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
Avenue of sphinxes
The Avenue of Sphinxes is one of the most interesting sights in Luxor. It is located in the City of the Living on the eastern bank of the Nile and is a wide road about 2.7 km long, on both sides of which there are sculptures of sphinxes on high pedestals.
According to historians, the alley was created in Ancient Egypt during the reign of the 13th dynasty of the pharaohs. It united two large temples – Karnak and Luxor – into a huge architectural ensemble.
The numerous sphinx sculptures that adorn the alley are carved out of pink granite. Sphinxes have a lion’s body and a ram’s head, since rams were considered sacred animals of the god Amun. About half of the sculptures were found during excavations, and the rest were either lost or kept in museums.
Once the Avenue of the Sphinxes was a place of ceremonial processions, therefore it was called the “Sacred Way”. During the annual ancient Egyptian festival of Opet, a procession with statues of the sacred triad – Amon-Ra, Mut and Khonsu – from the Karnak temple to Luxor was walking along this road.
Address: Alley of the Sphinxes, Mabad Al Karnak, Karnak, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
Temple of Amun-Ra
The Temple of Amun-Ra occupies the central part of the Karnak temple complex. An alley adorned with sculptures of sphinxes on both sides leads to it. Once on this territory stood the city of Thebes – the capital of ancient Egypt, and the temple of Amun-Ra was the epicenter of city life.
The giant construction of a quadrangular shape with a total area of about 30 hectares was built for more than one century. Each ruler of Ancient Egypt tried to rebuild the temple at his own discretion.
In the days of Ancient Egypt, the temple of Amun-Ra could only be visited by a select few – pharaohs and great priests. Today it is open to everyone. At the entrance to the temple, 10 huge pylons are erected on both sides.
This is followed by a giant hypostyle – a masterpiece of world architecture and the world’s largest columned hall with a stone ceiling. Its area is more than 5,000 m², and its height is 24 m. Initially, the roof of the hall (which has not survived to this day) was supported by 134 columns, installed in 16 rows. All columns are decorated with colored bas-reliefs. The Sacred Lake adjoins the temple of Amun Ra.
Address: Karnak Temple, Karnak, Luxor, Egypt.
Temple of Hatshepsut
In ancient times, this majestic temple was called Jeser Jeseru – “Most Sacred of the Sacred.” A memorial sanctuary was erected at the base of the steep cliffs in Deir el-Bahri. Construction lasted nine years – from 1482 to 1473. BC e. The building was discovered during excavations in the 19th century, along with other memorial temples.
In the early Christian period, the temple housed a Coptic church. After many centuries, the building turned into ruins. However, thanks to the persistence and skill of Polish restorers, the architectural complex was restored, although not yet completely.
Queen Hatshepsut inherited the throne after the death of her husband, Thutmose II. She was not only an excellent ruler, but also a connoisseur of art. During the reign of Hatshepsut, active construction of grandiose structures began, including her tomb. The width of the memorial church, partially cut into the mountain, is about 40 m.
The main part of the structure is three spacious terraces with rows of white limestone columns and ramps leading upstairs. There are many shrines and burial rooms inside. The temple is decorated with numerous sphinxes with the face of a queen and statues. On the walls you can see ancient drawings, bas-reliefs and writings telling about events from the life of Hatshepsut.
Address: Hatshepsut Temple, Kings Valley Road, Luxor, Egypt.
The ancient Egyptian settlement, due to its remoteness, is not often included in sightseeing routes, although there is something to see here. First of all, this is the Abydos Temple – a masterpiece of Egyptian art with unique wall reliefs and images.
According to the assumption of historians, this temple is at least 3,500 years old. Osiris, the god of the underworld, was revered in Abydos. Pilgrims of Ancient Egypt rushed here to bow to the relics and leave gifts near the temple – the entrance to it was closed for thousands of years to mere mortals.
The temples of Abydos are sacred sites for the Egyptians. The main attraction of the temple complex is the memorial temple of Seti I, the pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. The L-shaped white marble temple was built in the 13th century BC. e. The most famous part of it is the gallery of kings with luxurious colored reliefs on the walls, including the famous “Abydos list”.
The list of the names of the predecessor pharaohs of Seti I carved on the walls is of great historical value – it helped scientists to unravel many previously unknown facts from the history of Ancient Egypt.
Address: Seti I Memorial Temple, Seti I Memorial Temple, Naga Al Taref Inside Road, Qurna, Luxor, Egypt.
The ancient city of Dendera is located on the west bank of the Nile, about 60 km from Luxor.
Settlements in these places began to appear during the reign of the first pharaohs of Egypt, but the surviving remains of temple buildings date back to a later historical period – the era of the Ptolemies. That is why on the walls of the local temple you can see images of Egyptian gods and Roman emperors at the same time.
The main attraction of Dendera is the ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor. She was especially revered by women, since she personified fertility, femininity, beauty and strength. The sacred building was erected in the Greco-Roman period on the remains of more ancient temples.
It was discovered only in the middle of the 19th century under a thick layer of sand. The complex, surrounded by a stone wall, includes: interior rooms – Hellenistic and hypostyle halls, as well as several chapels on the roof, to which two staircases lead – straight and spiral.
The external and internal walls of the temple are decorated with colored relief drawings depicting Egyptian deities, pharaohs, Roman emperors, the zodiac, the solar disk, etc.
Address: Dendera, Dandarah, Qena, Egypt.
Temple of Edfu
The small ancient city of Edfu is located on the west bank of the Nile, about 100 km from Luxor. Despite its remoteness, tens of thousands of tourists come here every year to see the grand temple of Chora.
In terms of its impressive dimensions (length – 13 7 m, width – 79 m, height – 36 m), this structure is second only to the Karnax temple and the temple of Medinet Abu. The temple was founded in the 3rd century BC. and was built for almost 200 years. Over time, it fell into desolation, but during the reign of the Ptolemies, the temple was rebuilt. For some time it was completely covered with sand, and it was only discovered in 1860.
The Temple of Chora is a sacred structure erected in honor of the god of the sky and the sun, the wife of the goddess Hathor. The temple amazes with a harmonious combination of ancient and ancient Egyptian forms, brutal architecture and elegant interior decoration.
Numerous images and inscriptions are well preserved on the walls and columns of the temple, thanks to which scientists learned a lot about the traditions and cults of Ancient Egypt. The writings of the Temple of Edfu are considered one of the largest collections of Egyptian hieroglyphs from the Greco-Roman period in the world.
Address: The Temple of Horus at Edfu, Adfo, Edfo, Egypt.
Tombs of the nobility
One of the most interesting sights of Egypt is the Luxor necropolis, which includes more than 400 burials. The tombs, carved into the rocks on the western bank of the Nile, belonged to the noble Egyptians from the 6th Dynasty to the Greco-Roman period – governors, governors, military leaders and other representatives of minor nobles.
In contrast to the luxurious, but slightly monotonous murals in the temples and tombs of the pharaohs, in the tombs of the nobility you can see images that give a more complete picture of the daily life of the ancient Egyptians.
All tombs open to the public are interesting in their own way for their picturesque detailed paintings and bas-reliefs depicting scenes of everyday rural life, offerings, holidays, feasts, wine production, hunting, fishing, funeral rituals, etc.
Of greatest interest are the tombs of the nobility during the reign of Thutmose III, the noble Egyptians of the 18th dynasty, as well as the tombs of Ramos, Userhet, Khaemkhet and Rekmir. In 1915, during excavations, the tombs of Neferronpet were discovered, striking with their bright paintings and complex geometric ornaments on the ceiling.
Address: Graves of the Nobles, Egypt.
This interesting museum is located in the center of Luxor. Its building was built on the side of a mountain, which offers a picturesque view of the Nile. The museum was established in 1997 with the aim of acquainting tourists visiting Egypt with the ancient methods of mummification. In ancient Egypt, using these methods, mummies were created from the bodies of dead people or animals.
In front of the entrance to the museum there is a small statue of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis with a jackal head, as he was considered the patron saint of people engaged in embalming and funeral rituals. According to legend, he helped Isis embalm the body of the deceased Osiris and create the first mummy in history.
The entire exposition of the museum is divided into two sectors. The first presents papyri and paintings that illustrate in detail the burial ceremonies of people and animals. In the spacious hall of the second sector, you can see about 60 amazing exhibits.
Among them, devices and materials that the ancient Egyptians used to create mummies – a tool for extracting the brain from the skull and special fluids for embalming; artifacts for the transition of the deceased to the afterlife and many other amazing exhibits.
Address: Museum of Mummification, Luxor City, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
Temple of Khnum in Isnu
The Khnum Temple is the main attraction of the city of Isnu, located on the western bank of the Nile, 54 km south of Luxor. The building was built in honor of the god of fertility Khnum, revered by the ancient Egyptians. He was portrayed as a man with the head of a ram (a sacred animal), whose horns are spirally twisted.
The construction of the magnificent temple began during the reign of the Ptolemies. The construction lasted for several centuries and was completed during the reign of the Roman emperors, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the walls of the temple, made by architects and builders of those times.
To this day, only a large columned hall has survived from the Khnum temple in Isnu. The high ceiling of the hall is supported by massive columns with capitals decorated with carvings in various colors.
The ceiling has beautiful frescoes depicting birds and astronomical symbols. The walls are covered with numerous inscriptions telling about the god Khnum and the festivities that took place in the temple.
Address: Temple of Khnum, Sheyakhah Oula, Qism Aswan, Egypt.
Colossi of Memnon
On the opposite side of the Nile from the modern city of Luxor, there are two huge stone statues about 20 m high – the famous Colossi of Memnon. They were once part of a monumental alley leading to the memorial sanctuary of Amenhotep III, a pharaoh from the 18th dynasty.
The temple has not survived to this day – many centuries ago they began to dismantle it for building materials, and some elements of the structure were used by the pharaohs of the 19th and 20th dynasties to erect their tombs. The giant statues appeared in the Theban necropolis almost 3.5 millennia ago. They are made from massive blocks of quartzite sandstone. Each statue weighs about 700 tons.
The ancient Greeks called the massive sculptural structure in the form of two seated pharaohs the colossi of Memnon, although in fact they represent the pharaoh Amenhotep III.
After a while, due to a strong earthquake, cracks began to appear on the statues made of monolithic stone blocks, but during the reign of Septimius Severus, they were eliminated. On the back wall of the throne, you can see reliefs – a listing of the titles and titles of Amenhotep III, and near the feet of the statues there are sculptures of the ruler’s mother and wife.
Address: Colossi of Memnon, Al Bairat, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
Luxor Museum of Antiquities
The Luxor Museum of Antiquities is located on the Nile embankment, between two famous temples – Karnak and Luxor. This is the second most important (after Cairo) museum in Egypt. It opened its doors to visitors in 1975.
Inside the building there are two large halls on the ground floor, several halls on the balconies and one basement hall. Although there are not too many exhibits in the museum’s collection – there are about 400 of them, they all represent the true masterpieces of the ancient civilization. Comfortable conditions have been created for visitors to view the museum’s collection – air conditioners, normal lighting, plates with detailed descriptions of the exhibits.
The basis of the collection of the Luxor Museum are objects found during archaeological excavations in the vicinity of the ancient city of Thebes, on the site of which Luxor is located today. Visitors can see statues (there are most of them here), mummies, papyrus scrolls, colored reliefs, objects from ancient tombs, and precious jewelry.
Almost all of the exhibits are well preserved. Among the most interesting exhibits are the head of a giant statue of Amenhotep III, standing at the entrance to the museum halls, a gilded wooden head of the goddess Meheturet in the shape of a cow, an alabaster statue of the goddess Mut, a miniature sphinx of Tutankhamun, reliefs of the temple of Thutmose III and much more.
Address: Luxor Museum of Antiquities, Kornish Al Nile, Luxor City, Luxor, Luxor, Egypt.
5 km from the Valley of the Kings, in the town of Medinet Abu, there is the eponymous memorial temple of Ramses III – the second pharaoh of the 20th dynasty. This is one of the largest complexes in the City of the Dead. Medinet Abu is a well-preserved example of a memorial sanctuary for the rulers of the New Kingdom. It was in that era that memorial temples began to appear – memorial complexes separate from the tombs.
The place for the construction of the temple was not chosen by Ramses III by chance. Since time immemorial, pilgrimages have been made to Medinet Abu, since it was there that the god Amon first appeared to the world. The temple complex occupies a huge territory, and the total area of the walls covered with bas-reliefs and drawings is more than 7,000 square meters.
The first pylon is made in the form of a fortification gate – the so-called “migdola”. This architectural element, combined with powerful battlements, gave the temple the appearance of a fortress. In addition to its architectural and artistic significance, the Medinet Abu temple is valuable for its chronicles describing the military exploits of Ramses III in the wars against the Libyans and the “Sea Peoples”.
Address: Medinet Habu, Al Bairat, Al Qarna, Egypt.
The memorial temple Ramesseum of the great warrior pharaoh Ramses II was supposedly built in 1250 BC. e. in a place traditional for such structures – on the opposite bank of the Nile from Karnak. It is considered one of the largest and best preserved temples of that era.
The Ramesseum is a single complex that includes a temple, a palace, living rooms, stables, warehouses and a number of other premises. Razmes II ruled Egypt for 67 years. During this time, he built a significant number of monumental structures, which are today architectural monuments.
At one time, the Ramesseum was considered one of the greatest funeral temples of Ancient Egypt, but only small fragments have survived to our time. The scale of the temple can be judged by the remaining elements of the giant statues of the pharaoh.
One of them was a 17-meter statue depicting Ramses II sitting on a throne, of which only a huge head standing at the entrance to the temple has survived, as well as toes and fingers lying in front of the first pylon. A fragment (upper body) of another statue of a slightly smaller size also lies at the first pylon near the columns.
Many statues of the pharaoh in the form of the god Osiris have been preserved in the temple. There are many bas-reliefs on the walls illustrating scenes from the life of Ramses II and his military exploits.
Address: Ramesseum, Edfo, Luxor, Egypt.