Salam and welcome to Luxor! 😀
While in Luxor, our group stayed at the Steigenberger Nile Palace.The rooms were chic, the breakfast buffet was super delish, and the hotel had a promenade overlooking the Nile.As 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. 🙂
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.
Colossi of Memnom
These two stone statues were built to guard King Amenhotep’s burial temple.
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.
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. At the front of the temple are pharaonic statues, and inside there’s a combination of carved hieroglyphs and painted mosaics.
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.
Cost: 50 EGP (3 USD)
Edfu TempleThis temple honors Horus, a falcon-headed god known as, “Lord of the Sky.”
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. 😛
There is a protection symbol above the temple, with wings, a sun-dial and two cobras.
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.Along with hieroglyphs, there are ancient carvings as well.One showcases priests who shave their whole bodies for purification, including their heads and eyebrows.
Here is the priest’s prayer room, where they would worship the gods. Cost: 60 EGP (3.5 USD)
This temple complex is dedicated to Amun, the “King of the Gods.”We chose to visit Luxor Temple at night, which was undoubtedly a highlight of this tour for me. Nothing compares to the majesty of these temples lit up against the night’s sky. Absolutely stunning!Cost: 60 EGP (3.5 USD)
This temple is the largest religious building ever built, and honors the gods- Amun, Mut and Khonsu.The temple’s Hypostyle hall is filled with 134 towering columns, etched with intricate Egyptian hieroglyphs.There is an impressive avenue of sphinxes, which in ancient times, led all the way from Luxor to Karnak. Personally, I think this temple cannot be missed.The 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. 😀
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.
I 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.We 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.Anyway, 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. 🙂