Our Nile River Cruise reached its final destination at Luxor, where we spent the following days exploring truly unbelievable sights!
Luxor has rightfully been named the “world’s greatest open-air museum” with a series of sensational monuments awaiting visitors. Known to the Greeks as Thebes, the city has been filled with enormous temples and was also the place where pharaohs were buried. It is visited by many tourists, but because there is so much to see, you do not feel that the place is overcrowded! We started our sightseeing program at the Karnak Temple. Construction of this complex started already in the Middle Kingdom (21st to 18th century BC), but most of the buildings are from the New Kingdom (16th to 11th century BC) – it’s very old! I really liked the Great Hypostyle Hall with its impressive columns as well as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on earth!
Our next stop was the Luxor Temple, which is situated directly in the city center and was constructed around 3400 years ago! Originally, it was connected to the Karnak Temple further north by a 2.7-km-long road lined by sphinxes. This Avenue of Sphinxes is currently excavated and some day visitors might again walk between the ancient sites!
No visit to Luxor would be complete without exploring the Valley of the Kings! The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were buried in this desert valley on the western side of the Nile River between the 16th and 11th century BC. Their tombs are fantastic places to see outstanding wall paintings and carvings! The area contains more than 60 tombs and during any given day, only a few are open to public. During our visit, we were able to see the tombs of Pharaoh Ramesses IX, Pharaoh Merenptah, and Pharaoh Ramesses IV. With an extra-ticket, we also entered the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, but photography was not allowed.
Similar in magnitude and artistic splendor is the Valley of the Queens, where we visited the tombs of Tyti (wife of Ramesses III), Amun-her-khepeshef, and Khaemwaset (both sons of Ramesses III). The beauty of the paintings inside these tombs is indescribable – especially considering the fact that they are more than 3000 years old!
Another must-see sight in Luxor is the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut built in the 15th century BC and exceptional in its design. Unfortunately, it is also known as the place of a terrible terrorist attack in 1997.
Apart from the major sights, we also visited the Luxor Museum, the Ramesseum, the Colossi of Memnon, Medinat Habu, the Tombs of Nobles, and the Mummification Museum – all of these are very much worth the visit!
In addition to exploring the ruins on the ground, it is also possible to fly across the monuments of Luxor in a hot air balloon – and I can really recommend to spend the money for it! Seeing the sunrise with the Nile River on the one side and the endless Sahara Desert on the other side – unforgettable!
I did not expect that Luxor would be that spectacular and I wish we had more time to explore the ancient monuments in peace. Even though the city of Luxor is not as beautiful as Aswan, it would have been nice to spend some time sitting on the hotel balcony and observe the life on the Nile River.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Luxor is an exceptional place and I would really love to come back again some day!