Finding a Pharaoh or two in Luxor

It has been described as being possible the world’s largest outdoor museum, but there is no denying that if you have any interest at all in anything Egyptian, then a visit to Luxor is a must.  Even if you don’t think you have an interest in ancient Egypt, you will develop one at Luxor.

The site of the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor straddles the mighty Nile, that ribbon of water which allowed the Egyptians to form one of history’s greatest and most sophisticated civilisations.

On the East Bank you can visit the Temples of Karnak, Luxor Temple and the Mummification Museum.

The Karnak Temple Complex encompasses a vast conglomeration of ruined temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings the most prominent of which is the Great Temple of Amen.  Karnak was in use for a very long time, and its history spans the reign of about 30 pharaohs.  One of the most formidable sights in Karnak is the ruins of the Hypostyle Hall, which consists of 134 massive columns laid out in 16 rows.    

Luxor Temple is quite well preserved.  Dedicated to the Theban Triad of the Gods Amun, Mut and Chons.  Of course, its significance is explained by touring the nearby Luxor Museum.

At the Mummification Museum visitors learn about the complicated, and sometimes gruesome, mummification process which was done to allow the Pharaohs to progress comfortably to the next life.  It wasn’t only humans that were mummified.  Cats were an important part of Egyptian life, and many were mummified as were birds, fish and crocodiles.

On the West Bank of the Nile is the Valley of the Kings, were for a period lasting 500 years many of the great Pharaohs were buried in massive tombs.  Amazingly, new tombs are still being discovered, with the latest find being in 2008.  There are presently know to be 63 tombs in the Valley of the Kings, with the most famous being King Tut’s Tomb, the Tomb of Tutankhamun, which was famously discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, and its most famous feature, the burial mask, today symbolising the lives of the pharaohs.

When you have a king you normally have a queen, and the Valley of the Queens contains the tombs of 70 Egyptian Queens, who were often buried with their children and other family members.

Luxor used to be a reasonably difficult place to reach, as it is 500 kilometres south of Cairo.  Nowadays the airport is well serviced by a number of airlines, and it is a destination that is getting busier.  Many organised tour groups visit Luxor, but it is possible to avoid the crowds, all it takes is a little planning, and try not to visit during peak periods.

Tromping through ruins may not be everybody’s idea of a fun break, but the buildings here are so overwhelming, and the history so astonishing that it really is one place you should try to visit at least once.

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