Luxor and the Valley of the Kings

Luxor Travel Blog

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Picked up at Hotel at 0530 which is 20 min later than advertised but TIA! It's still dark so I grab some sleep until our first pit stop/retail therapy opportunity(RTO) at a roadside cafe. We arrive into Luxor around 9am and head straight to the Temple of Karnak.It's a hugely impressive site of around 25 acres with it is said another 40 acres yet to be excavated.

The temples of Karnak and Luxor were in ancient times part of the upper Egyptian city of Thebes, which was the capital and cultural center of the Pharaoh's empire and is known as the city of the hundred gateways.

An avenue of ram-headed sphinxes leads towards the main entrance of the temple.

  Monumental Pylons, of a height of more than 40 m, colossal statues such as those of  Ramses II, the gigantic obelisks of the Hapschepsut and above all the gigantic columns of the hypostyle hall which reach at the middle road a height of 24m leave visitors in awe of the  achievements of a past culture which survived millennia.

The temple building was begun in the 12th dynasty (1991-1785 BC) and was continued over centuries. Karnak is the largest and probably also the most impressive temple complex in the world. The main temple in the heart of the complex is dedicated to God Amun and was built in the 18th dynasty (1552-1306 BC)  The gem of Karnak  is the famous and well preserved hypostyle hall (columns hall) with its 134 columns - a masterstroke of
ancient Egyptian architecture under Setos I and Ramses II (19.

dynasty, 1306-1186 BC). About 80,000 people were said to have been employed for the building and decoration of the temple.

We have a very knowledgeable guide who with a dry and wicked sense of humour descrbes the history of the complex but keeps his explanations concise and to the point and gives us time to just wander and appreciate the beauty and majesty of the place.

All to soon it's time to leave as the temperature and visitor numbers increase.We brave the hoards of souvenir sellers on the way out and head for RTO number 2 at a perfume shop. Anyone who has ever done an organised day trip in Egypt has probably visited places like this.They try very hard and are very polite but with todays group I'm afraid it's no sales.

Our group splits here into two parts. Our smaller group heads off firstly to Queen Hatshepsuts Temple and then into The Valley of the Kings proper.Queen Hatshepsut  was the first great woman in recorded history.Her rise to power went against all the conventions of her time. She was the first wife and Queen of Thutmose II and on his death proclaimed herself Pharaoh, denying the old king's son, her nephew, his inheritance.

She remained in power for twenty years and during this time the Egyptian economy flourished, she expanded trading relations and built magnificent temples as well as restoring many others. Eventually her nephew grew into a man and took his rightful place as pharaoh. The circumstances of this event are unknown and what became of Hatshepsut is a mystery.

Hatshepsut's successor became the greatest of all Pharaohs, Thutmose III, "the Napoleon of ancient Egypt." He had her name cut away from the temple walls which suggests he was not overly fond of his auntie!

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings. The mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra and is located next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, which served both as an inspiration, and later, a quarry. It is considered one of the finest in Egypt. The temple was the site of the massacre of 62 people, mostly tourists, by Islamist extremists that took place on 17 November 1997.

The interior of the tomb is no longer open to the general public to help preseve it but the amazing setting with the mountain as the back drop is impressive enough.

Back down into the valley we rejoin the group at RTO 3 in an alabaster factory.Ther is some nice stuff here but nothing that I want to cart home. They have better luck with some of the others in the group and seem happy with the business.

We drive up the Valley to the parking area for the The Valley of the Kings. After running the gauntlet of more persistent souvenir sellers we board the small train that takes up to see the three tombs we have paid to see with our entrance fee. No cameras or camcorders are allowed in the ares of the tombs which is a shame but rules are rules and there are lots of security and Police men watching everyone. The Tomb of Rameses III is easily the most impressive of the three. Larger by far and more intracately decorated.Seeing the tombs puts the past visits to the Cairo and Alexandria Museums into context.

Our day is nicely rounded off by a boat trip along the Nile to watch the sunset.It's sad to see all the Nile cruise boats tied up 4 or 5 deep along the river with no passengers.I hope that with the elections the Egyptian people get the peace and democracy that they so obviously want and need.

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photo by: LadyMaja