Now I travel south for a change, about 650 km from Cairo, to the ancient and historic city of Luxor.
I didn’t find any couch surfer so I stayed here at backpackers, which was good luck because I made some friends there. The city lays by the Nile, no surprise there, but also surrounds some huge beautiful temples. The market is small compared to the one in Cairo but the people are very chilled here. I smelled spices, tried some exotic Egyptian sweets and had fresh juice take-away in a plastic bag. It’s also nice to walk on the Corniche by the Nile.
In ancient Egypt this city was called Thebes, and around the 15 century BC became the capital of the kingdom. But the city’s power and economic importance declined over time and most of the Temples were abandoned and covered in sand, to the point that people built houses on top of those sites. Egyptologists dug and restored the forgotten temples and tombs.
One of them is the Temple of Luxor, which was built around the 15th century BC. It was used as a place of worship also during the Christian era and even nowadays there is a small mosque built inside the temple.
The Temple of Luxor connects with the Karnak Temples Complex through the Avenue of Sphinxes that used to be 3 km long.
The impressive Karnak Temples Complex is one of the largest religious buildings ever constructed, from the 20th century BC to the first century AD it amounts to an area of 200 acres. It was dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu. Amun was considered protector of justice and the poor, later fused with the sun god Ra into Amun-Ra. Then Mut meant mother in ancient Egyptian and she was Mother of the Gods. Finally Khonsu, son of Amun and Mut, was God of the Moon, and God of Travel.
The central temple here is massive, and it’s easy to get lost around it’s enormous 29 meters tall columns. One thing that caught my attention is that hieroglyphs were not just carved but also painted, and in some cases the original painting is remaining in the top of the columns and ceilings. During this tour I met Maha, a friendly girl from Saudi Arabia.
This two sites are on the east side of the river, surrounded by the city. On the west side there are many sites as well that I visited with a tour.
As we crossed the Nile we were welcomed by the Colossi of Memnon that used to guard the entrance to a temple of which nothing else remains nowadays. Our next stop was at Medinet Habu’s Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III from around the 12th century BC. Ramesses III is considered the last great Pharaoh of Egypt, and defeated many great enemies.
Afterwards, we visited the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, which lays below the cliff of a mountain, with an inviting long stair. The temple, from about the 15th century BC, is dedicated to the god Amun and to Hatshepsut. She is considered one of the most successful Pharaohs and the female Pharaoh who reigned the longest. This temple looks very different from most of the other ones as the architecture looks much more modern in comparison.
Then we went to see a handicraft shop where the workers really carve and lime the stone by hand in an art that seems ancient.
Finally we visited some underground tombs. First, the Valley of the Kings, containing 63 tombs in different sites built between the 16th and 11th century BC. Each had a passage that led down, some shorter than others, some longer, to the deepest one at 137 meters below ground. We visited three tombs, among them was the tomb of Ramesses III which was preceded by a 188 meters long ornamented corridor.
On a different site there are the Tombs of the Nobles, of which I visited Ramose, who was a governor of Thebes.
It’s hard to picture all of these places, so to illustrate all of this I made a video.
After Luxor I got on a train that was 3 hours late, no big deal, to Aswan, another interesting place in Egypt full of history.