There are few places in Egypt, let alone the world, that are steeped in as much history and mystery as Luxor. Known during ancient Egyptian times as Thebes, the city was the capital of Egypt for many years during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras.
On the city’s East Bank there are two fabulous temple complexes – Luxor and Karnak. Located in the heart of modern day Luxor, Luxor Temple was built mostly by pharaohs Amenhotep III and Ramses II. The temple is still largely intact and in the Egyptian language is known as ipet resyt translating to “the southern sanctuary”.
The other major temple on the east bank is Karnak – a massive temple complex comprised of ruined temples, chapels, obelisks and other buildings. At the heart of Karnak is the temple of Amun, surrounded by other temples dedicated to Amun’s wife, Mut, and son, Khonsu. An avenue of sphinxes covering a distance of 3 kilometres once connected the two temples together.
On the West Bank of the city lies the Theban Necroplois – the ancient Valley of the Kings. For almost 500 years this valley was the burial place of pharaohs, queens and nobles of the New Kingdom between 1539 and 1075 BC including the young King Tutankhamun. After recent discoveries in 2005 and 2008, there are now 63 known tombs and chambers in the valley. In 1979 the site was granted World Heritage Status along with ancient Thebes.
Queen Hatshepsut Temple, located beneath the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari near to the Valley of the Kings, is another major and very impressive temple to visit. Also close to the valley are the two massive stone statues of Amenhotep III – known as the Colossi of Memmon.