The modern city of Luxor in ancient times was called “Thebes” and was the capital of Upper Egypt. In the era of the New Kingdom, Thebes became the capital of the whole of Egypt. As it is now, the residential part of the city in ancient times was located on the east bank of the Nile. On the west bank there was an area for the rest of the dead, which is now called the “Theban necropolis”.
The residential part of Thebes on the east bank was called “the city of the living”, and the necropolis on the west bank was called the “city of the dead”.
There are many burial centers in this area; different people from commoners to pharaohs were buried here. Archaeologists are actively excavating, and new burials are found every year. By the way, it is the archaeological excavations that are the reason that periodically this place is closed to tourists.
Separately in this area are two areas. The first is the place where the pharaohs were buried, which was named “Valley of the Kings”. The second is the burial place of their wives and children, called the Valley of the Queens.
Those of tourists who hope to see statues, columns and sphinxes, we hasten to disappoint, there is nothing like this here. Both valleys look very modest, you can see the photo of the Valley of the Queens in the photo below.
Pharaohs in this place began to be buried in the 15th century BC, at the beginning of the New Kingdom era. Throughout the history of ancient Egypt, the funerary traditions of the pharaohs changed, during the era of the Old Kingdom, the pharaohs preferred pyramids, and the larger the better.
After the First Transitional Period, Egypt no longer possessed such a huge amount of labor as before, and the construction of huge tombs from stone was already overwhelming. During the Middle Kingdom, pharaohs were buried in small pyramids, the base of such a pyramid was usually six meters. Near the burial place was a place of worship for the deceased pharaoh, because the ruler was deified during his lifetime.
After the Second Transitional Period, during the New Kingdom, mores changed. Now the burial place and the place of worship were divided, each pharaoh strove to build a temple in his honor, and hide the grave away so as not to be plundered.
The problem of looting was already very acute in those days, and they tried to disguise the tombs, they even built false tombs, especially to deceive the robbers. The entrances were often filled up so that the burial site could not be found.
Despite all efforts, most of the burials of the pharaohs had already been completely plundered by the time archaeologists arrived.
The most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings belongs to Pharaoh Tutankhamun, photo above. During his reign, nothing significant happened, he ascended the throne at the age of 10, and at 19 he died, presumably as a result of injury. But he became famous all over the world precisely because of the tomb, which was untouched by the robbers and went to archaeologists intact.
In 2014, it was opened to the public, but most of the items from the tomb were removed by archaeologists back in 1922, and now most of the items are in the Cairo Museum, the stern of the mummy, which they decided to return to its place in 2007. Read the main article “Tutankhamun’s Tomb”.
The famous mask of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun is considered one of the most valuable treasures of Egypt, it is depicted on the 1 Egyptian pound coin, you can see a photo of this coin in our article about the money of Egypt.
Tourists are allowed into other tombs, and although there is nothing of the objects there, the wall paintings and texts in many burials have been preserved very well and are very interesting.
Not far from the Valley of the Kings is the Valley of the Queens, where the wives and children of the pharaohs were buried. There are many more tombs here, and they continue to be found. In the Valley of the Kings, there are only 62 burials, in the Valley of the Queens there are much more.
The most interesting tomb, which is visited during the tour, belongs to Queen Nifertari, wife of Pharaoh Ramses II. Two temples in Abu Simbel are dedicated to this pair, about which our other article tells. Nifertari was very loved by her husband, he dedicated temples to her and, of course, her tomb was the most luxurious of all in the Valley of the Queens. The photo you see above in our review was taken in her tomb. It is the largest in the valley and with the largest area of drawings, which, to the delight of visiting tourists, have been beautifully preserved and “in color”.
Outwardly, the Valley of the Queens looks exactly the same as the Valley of the Kings. The tombs here were not put on display either, but were disguised for the same reasons, they were afraid of robbers. Also in the “city of the dead” there are other burial places. Archaeological excavations are constantly being carried out here, which are extremely interesting for archaeologists, but do not cause serious interest for an ordinary tourist.
In addition to the already mentioned sights on the west bank of the Nile, tourists are brought to a workshop for the production of products from onyx and alabaster, in the hope that you will buy something. It’s not such a bad idea, prices are much lower there than for similar products in USA, but you can find cheaper in stores in the city.
Which tombs are open and prices
Entrance to the Valley of the Kings – 240 Egyptian pounds.
The entrance ticket price includes a visit to 8 tombs: Ramses VII, Ramses IV, Ramses IX, Merneptah, Ramses III, Seti II, Siptah, Tausert-Setnakht.
4 more tombs for a fee:
Tutankhamun’s Tomb – £ 300
Tomb of Ramses VI – 100 pounds.
Tomb of Eye – 60 pounds.
For the current rate of the Egyptian pound, see the article “What money is in Egypt.”
And one more tomb can be called “VIP”. This is the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I. It is the largest, the richest in inscriptions, the most luxurious in the Valley of the Kings. And the price is appropriate – 1000 pounds!
From 9-00 to 17-00.
How to get there
First you need to get to Luxor. From Hurghada you can travel by land in a reasonable amount of time, as you can read our review “From Hurghada to Luxor and back.” From Sharm El Sheikh by air only.
Arriving in Luxor, you need to cross to the western bank of the Nile River. The cheapest way to do this is by local ferry for 5 Egyptian pounds. From the ferry station to the Valley of the Kings, 7.5 kilometers. The easiest way is to take a taxi. For fares, see our article “Taxi in Egypt”.
– For visiting Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, we recommend the winter months when it is not so hot. If you are traveling in the summer, then do not forget about protection from the sun – a headdress and closed shoulders in the first place. We discussed this topic in detail in the article “What is not allowed in Egypt”;
– In Luxor, dollars and euros will not be accepted everywhere. It is more convenient to exchange foreign currency for Egyptian pounds. Details in our review “How and where to change money in Egypt”;