Luxor

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“The Temple of Karnak in Luxor dates back to the Middle Kingdom, when it was built to worship the god Amun-Re” By: Mohamed El-Dakhakhny

The city of Luxor (El-Uqsur means fortification, castle) as of today is located at the east bank of the Nile. It contains the crowning achievements of Egyptian architecture. In ancient times the area was known as Theben, which was the capital of the New Kingdom (18th – 20 dynasties, 1570 – 1070 BC) for 500 years. It was founded between what are now the cities of Karnak and Luxor.

“The Old Winter Palace Hotel is a beautiful and impressive building facing the Nile River in Luxor.”: Photo by: Mohamed El-Dakhakhni.
“The Old Winter Palace Hotel is a beautiful and impressive building facing the Nile River in Luxor.”: Photo by: Mohamed El-Dakhakhni.

At the beginning of the New Kingdom, Amun-Ra was worshipped as the most important state god; a perfect expression of religious devotion is his temple at Karnak and its sister temple at Luxor, devoted to another aspect of the god as Amun-Min. Other succeeding pharaohs built their own mortuary temples on the West Bank, like Hatshepsut, Seti I, Ramses II and Ramses III. But still up to now the most famous monuments are the tombs of Theben: The Valley of the Kings and the Queens. From Tutmosis I (18th dynasty) onwards, all the New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in this secluded area. These royal burial sites contained unique treasures, like those of Tutankhamun, excavated by Howard Carter in 1922.

Theben remained the spiritual center long after the end of the New Kingdom. 747-656 BC the Nubian kings restored it until the Assyrian army sacked it 671 BC and 663 BC. The importance of Theben declined and when the Arabs conquered Egypt, it fell into oblivion. Due to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Thomas Cook arranged the first package tour along the Nile, and the city became vivid again.

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Though around 35 percent of the ancient, pharonic monuments are located in or around Luxor, the city of today is basically dependent on tourism. Walking around, is like walking the paths of history, giving you the impression of being back in the good old ancient times.

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