Berthed at the dusty port of Safaga for the three hour coach journey to Luxor.
Luxor stands head-and-shoulders above Egypt’s other towns for its sheer wealth of temples and tombs. This was the site of ancient Thebes, the great city of the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom pharaohs who covered the banks of the Nile with their mammoth building works and began the vast tomb structures snugly hidden amid the rocky valley of the West Bank.
All the monuments here are on a gigantic scale, reducing visitors to ant-like proportions as they gaze up at mighty columns and colossal statuary. Even if you’re short on time, don’t scrimp on your visit here. You need at least three hours to try and make sense of the entire complex.
The scope of their ambition is best appreciated today in the magnificent Karnak Temple complex, but there are so many monuments here that you could easily spend a week simply soaking up the elegance and grandeur. Luxor is basically an open-air museum and there’s no better place in Egypt to stop for a few days and simply lose yourself in the wonders of the ancient world.
Of all Luxor’s many monuments, the Temple Complex of Karnak has to be its most astonishing and beautiful feat. Within its precincts are the Great Temple of Amun, the Temple of Khons, and the Festival Temple of Tuthmosis III, as well as many other buildings.
It is not built to a single unified plan, but represents the building activity of many successive rulers of Egypt, who vied with one another in adding to and adorning this great national sanctuary, which became the most important of Egypt’s temples during the New Kingdom.
The famed Valley of the Kings, hidden between rocky escarpments, was the final resting place for the kings of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties. Their main attraction is their wonderfully vivid wall paintings.
Since it was believed that the dead man, accompanied by the sun god (or perhaps having become one with the sun god) sailed through the underworld at night in a boat, the walls of the tombs were adorned with texts and scenes depicting this voyage and giving the dead man instruction on its course.
Within the valley are 63 tombs that are a roll-call of famous names of Egyptian history including the famous boy-king Tutankhamun. The tombs are open on a rotation system to preserve the paintings as much as possible from the damage caused by humidity.