Luxor Travel Guide
Introduction to Luxor
Located midway down the Nile River in Central Egypt, the modern day city of Luxor is where the grand city of Thebes once ruled much of this country. It is home to the aged remains of countless tombs and temples, including the final resting place of the famed pharaoh, King Tut. There is much to see here, so if you are a big temple person, plan on staying at least a week.
Cultural Attractions in Luxor
Without a doubt, the Valley of the Kings is the biggest attraction that you’ll visit on a trip to Luxor. Containing 63 tombs that were built over 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BCE, they contained various royal figures from the New Kingdom of Egypt.
It is one of the most significant archaeological sites on Earth, as the hieroglyphs painted on these walls has given the world reams of info on what life was like in one of the world’s most significant civilizations.
Those looking for fabulous artifacts will be disappointed, as grave robbers raided these tombs with impunity through the years, stripping them of whatever they considered being remotely valuable. Fortunately, many of these items can now be found in antiquities museums in Cairo and in Luxor (we’ll talk about this institution later).
Next, make your way to the Karnak Temple Complex. Construction of the buildings found here began under the reign of Senusret I. Meant to honour Amun, the god of the wind, this site is only trumped by Angkor Wat as the largest religious complex in the world.
With countless houses of worship, sculptures and other points of interest, it can take days to explore this place properly. This place enjoyed extensive use throughout its life, as its active period spanned almost 2,000 years from the Middle Kingdom to the days of the Ptolemaic dynasty. If you miss this place, you’ll be doing your trip to Luxor a grave disservice.
Once you have fully appreciated these two heavyweights, take some time to visit the Luxor Temple. Built on the east side of the Nile in the city of Luxor, it served not as a place of worship for any god, but as an institution which sought to promote the monarchy.
It is thought that a number of pharaohs were crowned here in the past, and there are rumours that Alexander the Great visited this place during his time in Egypt. The commanding facade of this temple will impress you from the outset, and with plenty of sculptures of pharaohs who were coronated here thousands of years ago, you’ll see blown away by what this ‘secondary’ attraction has to offer.
Other Attractions in Luxor
If you haven’t gotten your fill of temples yet, make the Temple of Medinat Habu your next stop. Built on the west bank of Luxor during the New Kingdom period, it has plenty of iconography, statues, and Egyptian architecture just like all the other major sights here.
However, it is specifically known for the tales its hieroglyphs and interior decorations told archeologists about the attack and defeat of the Sea People during the reign of Ramesses III.
Together with its incredible pillars, it is a place that will further cement this place in your mind as a top highlight of your trip to Egypt.
Of all the particularities that the Egyptians are known for, one of the best known were their worship of cats. If you want to see a bunch of these felines immortalized in stone, check out the Avenue of the Sphinxes.
Lining the road between Luxor and Karnak, this street is where the 1,350 human-headed cats were located during the heyday of the Middle Kingdom. They were the site of many religious processions over the ages, and in the present day, they are lit up at night, creating a unique photo opportunity for passionate photographers.
Finally, if you are looking for the context in all the things you saw during your time in Luxor, the Luxor Museum is a great place to go. Stocked with a quality selection of artifacts pulled from the tombs and temples in the area, there is a lot of cool stuff to look at, as well as descriptions that will help you make sense of it all.