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Luxor Travel Guide


Located in Upper Egypt, Luxor has been described as the world's largest open-air museum. It has been elevated to the governorate status, although it is still classified as being in the province of Qena. Luxor has a population of around 230,000, primarily employed in tourism, although many are used in agriculture and commerce. Luxor is one of the most popular destinations in Egypt and qualifies as one of those places you must see. Because of this, almost every Egyptian tourist company has an office somewhere in the town.
Luxor has been estimated to contain about a third of the most valuable monuments and antiquities in the world, making it one of this planet's most important tourist sites. Monuments such as The Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, Deir El-Bahri (the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut), the worker's village at Deir El-Medina, the list goes on and on, and on. Although most visitors will stay for just a few days, visiting everything in this fantastic town would take a substantial amount of time.
Once known as Thebes, Luxor's importance in ancient Egyptian history cannot be denied. It was the religious capital almost throughout the Pharaonic period, so the town is dominated by two temples: the Temple of Luxor and the immense Temple of Karnak, the world's largest temple complex.
Dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Amun Ra, the Temple of Karnak was constantly expanded by successive pharaohs, each adding their tribute to the god. The site dates back to the Middle Kingdom under the reign of Mentuhotep (11th Dynasty), but most of what can be seen today is from the New Kingdom. Other parts of the complex include sites dedicated to Mut, the wife of Amun Ra, and their son Khonsu.
Most people know that Luxor was once Thebes, but "Thebes" was not what the ancient Egyptians called it. Ancient texts show that it was called T-apt, "The Shrine," with the ancient Greeks calling it Tea Pie. The Arabs had pronunciation problems, so it became Thebes to them. The name vanished then as the area submitted to the desert. By the 10th century, Arab travelers thought the ruins were grand buildings, so they called it Al-Oksour, or "site of the palaces," which eventually became Luxor.
Luxor is situated 670km (416 miles) to the south of Cairo, 220km (137 miles) to the north of Aswan, and 280km (174 miles) to the west of Hurghada. It is the second most popular place to visit in Egypt, behind Cairo, and is accessible in several ways:

By Air

Luxor International Airport is 6km (4 miles) east of the city and can be reached from most countries worldwide,
although it is most famous for charter flights. From here, you can also fly to most of the main cities and towns in Egypt and arrive from them. EgyptAir runs daily flights from Cairo to Luxor, as well as Luxor to Cairo, which only take, on average, about 50 minutes.

By Train

Luxor is situated on the central Cairo to Aswan railway line and has a modern station in El-Mahata Square. Services to both Cairo and Aswan are frequent, although restrictions on tourists are in place right now, allowing them to only use the sleeper service or the trains to either side of them.

By Road

Even though Luxor is connected by road to Cairo and has a good bus connection with the capital, tourists are asked to refrain from attempting to use this mode of transport for this journey and are left with only rail or flight as an alternative. However, the road to Aswan can be used and allows visiting sites such as Edfu and Kom Ombo. Hurghada is reachable by a 3.5-hour bus journey, opening up the Red Sea for those who wish for a change. Please note: if you do intend to use this mode of transport, you are best booking your seats at least 24 hours in advance to ensure you get the seats you want.

By Cruise

Nowadays, you can only go to Aswan by cruise boat, although some operators offer a one-day sail to see Dendera. The River Nile has not been used for cruises between Cairo and Luxor since the late 1990s.

  • A video blog about Luxor : https://www.youtube.com/embed/CvtOoKl2LxU

The Ancient City of Thebes


Although it was never the capital of a united Egypt, Thebes was the capital of Upper Egypt when Egypt was split in two. This was especially true during the period of the Hyksos invasion when Avaris became the capital in the North. Thebes was where the various pharaohs of Upper Egypt were based, and it was from here that the final campaign, under Ahmose I, to expel the Hyksos, first started.
Today, Luxor is split in two by the River Nile. These two areas are the East Bank (where the town lies) and the West Bank. Though this was also true in ancient times, the two parts were the City of the Living (East Bank) and the City of the Dead (West Bank). Like most of the River Nile, the western side tends to be more desert terrain, with the eastern side having far more arable land, so settlement sites tended to favor this latter side.

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