Travel in Egypt: Sightseeing in Luxor

Salam and welcome to Luxor! 😀

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touring Karnak temple

Accommodation:

While in Luxor, our group stayed at the Steigenberger Nile Palace.nileThe rooms were chic, the breakfast buffet was super delish, and the hotel had a promenade overlooking the Nile.breki3As a downside, their WiFi was almost non-existent, but that didn’t really matter, since we had two full days worth of sightseeing ahead of us. 🙂the-ancient-egypt-internet_o_5685029

Attractions:

Theban Necropolis

Luxor was once an ancient city called Thebes. This city prospered for its wealth of natural minerals and close proximity to trade routes. Its popularity throughout ancient times meant most of Egypt’s temples and statues were built here. Now it is currently the top spot for seeing many of Egypt’s historic sites.

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historic sites in the Theban Necropolis

 

Colossi of Memnom

These two stone statues were built to guard King Amenhotep’s burial temple.memnon
Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is the burial plot for more than 60 pharaohs. Unlike the burial tombs under the Great Pyramids of Giza, these tombs were discrete, as to avoid grave robbery. Instead of a stone pyramid, the tombs were buried under a mountain, which took on a natural pyramid shape. Famous pharaohs buried in this valley include Rameses II, Hatshepsut, Amenhotep I, and Tutankhamun. Aside from King Tut, all of the other tombs were still robbed. :/

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There were no pictures allowed inside the valley. Photo courtesy of Google images.

Cost: 104 EGP (6 USD)

Temple of Hatshepsut
The burial temple of Queen Hatshepsut is one of true architectural beauty. An avenue of sphinxes once led up to this temple, and ascending ramps lead from terrace to terrace. DSC_7885DSC_7889At the front of the temple are pharaonic statues, and inside there’s a combination of carved hieroglyphs and painted mosaics.DSC_7903 2016-12-02 17.31.53DSC_7897DSC_7896
Fun fact: Hieroglyphs were not a part of day-to-day life in ancient Egypt. Only a few people knew how to write them, and unlike the traditional alphabet, there are over 700 hieroglyph symbols. As well, each temple is labeled with a cartouche, or bullet-shaped name plate to show who the temple was built for.

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bullet-shaped cartouche

Cost: 50 EGP (3 USD)DSC_7880

Edfu TempleDSC_8033This temple honors Horus, a falcon-headed god known as, “Lord of the Sky.”DSC_8040DSC_8039

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There was a group of school kids visiting at the same time as us. One kid had super cute light-up shoes that squeaked when he walked. 😛
DSC_80372016-12-02 17.35.19There is a protection symbol above the temple, with wings, a sun-dial and two cobras.

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in the middle of the walkway is the sun-dial with two cobras facing outward

To symbolize the flight of the falcon, the temple has two staircases. The first leads up in a spiral, and the second goes straight down. This symbolizes the way a falcon circles up to look for its prey, then swoops down in one direct shot.dsc_8050Along with hieroglyphs, there are ancient carvings as well.DSC_8045One showcases priests who shave their whole bodies for purification, including their heads and eyebrows.
DSC_8046Here is the priest’s prayer room, where they would worship the gods. karn Cost: 60 EGP (3.5 USD)DSC_8029

Luxor Temple:

This temple complex is dedicated to Amun, the “King of the Gods.”dsc_8056dsc_8060We chose to visit Luxor Temple at night, which was undoubtedly a highlight of this tour for me. dsc_8068luxorNothing compares to the majesty of these temples lit up against the night’s sky. Absolutely stunning!PicsArt_12-02-12.49.57Cost: 60 EGP (3.5 USD)dsc_8054
Karnak Temple:

This temple is the largest religious building ever built, and honors the gods- Amun, Mut and Khonsu.krankarlnThe temple’s Hypostyle hall is filled with 134 towering columns, etched with intricate Egyptian hieroglyphs.dsc_8092dsc_8089There is an impressive avenue of sphinxes, which in ancient times, led all the way from Luxor to Karnak. 2016-12-02 17.34.15Personally, I think this temple cannot be missed.PicsArt_12-02-12.45.30dsc_8094The complex has an incredibly impressive collection of temples, statues, obelisks, chapels, and even a sacred lake. From what I’ve read, St Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would all fit within the walls of this great temple. Its enormity is absolutely mesmerizing. 😀

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A carving that portrays Alexander the Great receiving a gift from the god of fertility.
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hieroglyphics on the walls and stars carved into the roof

Cost: 80 EGP (4.5 USD)dsc_8077-1
Shopping in Luxor:

While in Luxor we stopped at an Alabaster Factory. They specialize in handcrafted pottery and sculptures, made from a variety of precious stones. It’s difficult to tell in the market what is real or fake, so it is nice coming to a factory, since you can trust their products. They use primitive tools to grind and shape the statues, then polish and dye them with a variety of colors.
pottI was able to find a few souvenirs here. Sculptures and pottery start at around 15-20 USD, while smaller trinkets like scarabs and pyramids were only 5 USD.pott2We also spent an afternoon in a store selling paintings on papyrus paper. Papyrus is a plant found in Egypt that is cut into stripes, dipped in water, then laid out to dry in a checkered pattern. The paper can be white or brown, depending how long you soak the papryus, and the paper is painted with a variety of Egyptian symbols.pzpfyuxAnyway, after seeing all these amazing sites in Luxor, we drove five hours south to Aswan, where we would spend the next 3 days. Stay tuned to hear all about Aswan, including a sailing trip on the Nile River. Until then. 🙂

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