Egypt Luxor with its temples is probably one of the biggest open museums in the whole world. There is no other place on the Earth with such number and preservation of monuments. Unfortunately, today is not the best time to go to Egypt, so all I can do is thinking back of these wonders, lost in sand by running over some old photos of them.
It seems like Luxor has always been a tourist center. Even during the Greek and the Roman times Luxor Temple attracted foreigners from all over the world. Millenniums are gone – nothing changed 🙂
This small town located on the bank of the Nile 650 km to the south of Cairo is still filled with a spirit of the almighty ancient civilization. Once upon a time this place was a grandiose capital of Ancient Egyptian Empire, which was called Uaset by the Egyptians, Al-Uqsur by the Arabians, and Thebes (which means “Palaces”) by the Greeks.
In the ancient times Thebes were located on both banks of the Nile. There were two grandiose temples on the Eastern bank – Karnak and Luxor – connected to each other by the great sphinx alley.
Mighty temple complexes were founded here side by side with rich palaces, houses of aristocrats and gardens of rare trees. Conquered nations of Syria and Palestine brought here countless vessels of vine, leather, lazuli beloved by the Egyptians, and from the distant provinces of Africa came caravans full of ivory, ebony, fragrances and gold.
Today Luxor Temple neighbors with the houses of not too wealthy Egyptians, the building came close to the monument. Local population tries to keep cleanness and as much as possible to keep all ancient treasures, which can be found here under every single house and every single street.
There was a Royal residence and huge necropolis on another bank of the Nile in the western side of Luxor , located on the amphitheater of rocks. And still this place keeps vales of kings and queens, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh, guarded by the giant statues – Colossi of Memnon. There were dozens of burials founded in the lifeless rocks around.
The history of Egypt Luxor lead us far back in the ancient time: first references of the city are kept in the texts dated by the III millennium B.C.E. The beginning of the New Kingdom in XVI century B.C.E. symbolized the period of the best prosperity. Even as the centuries passed and the capital was moved to Alexandria during the Greek-Roman period, the city still kept its role of the biggest and religious center of Egypt.
So, Luxor. We are in the City of the Living. The buses drove up to the biggest yard in front of the entry to the Karnak temple. Tourists exhausted by the far trip are going out of them, getting a little exercise and stretching. They are bunching up into small groups. Now, above all is a good guide!
The tour begins in front of the entry to the hall of columns with two rows of perfectly preserved statutes of rams. A ram was a symbol of ancient Egyptian God Ra (Amun Ra), in whose honor Luxor Temple was built.
The temple complex is huge.
Luxor Temple was built by many pharaohs, who attached columns or put obelisks – and here is the masterpiece. As the guide told, notably Ramses II and female pharaoh Hatshepsut had a hand in this event.
Such an interesting statue of Ramses II and his wife is located close to the entry; where the pharaoh is quadruple to his wife. The guide cracked a joke that probably Ramses loved short women.
Well, jokes aside, Ramses was a pharaoh and his wife, though beloved, but not the one, was just a women. That’s why he is illustrated as a giant and she just in full length. There is another one statue of the royal couple a little further. The name of Ramses’s II wife was Nefertari; many coevals consider her the most beautiful woman in the world and the pharaoh really loved her madly and even idolized her.
A narrow corridor leads us inside the temple. All groups, all nations and languages mix in here. We enter the temple. Amazing columns. Huge, large-tonnage, colossal, they seem to stake the sky.
Why the sky? – You may ask. Because the temple has never been covered with the roof. It seems unusual for us, inhabitants of rainy and snowy latitudes, but this was a common practice for ancient Egypt. The guide is telling about the images on the columns, pharaohs take turns, gods, cartouches, falcons, scarabs…
Very interesting, but you can hardly remember such an information flow. Two hours slide passed. We walked among the passages, statues and huge and the guide announce a down time for 45 minutes. Well, let the real heat begin! We have to see everything, mostly off the beaten tourist tracks.
We even found some partially-preserved Roman frescos! It looks like there was a Christian chapel on the territory of ancient Egyptian Luxor Temple.
That’s all – our time is up! We take our seats in the bus and drive to the Nile. Here is the moment when I will see the great African river! My expectations were not met. I imagined the Nile a huge river. But it is far from it, the river is wide, of course, but it is not Volga or Rhine. )
We cross the river on small boats. Luxor stays on the right bank of the Nile, on the left we can see some mountains, but still it is kind of deserted. The guide waved his hand to the left bank: The City of the Dead, to Luxor – The City of the Living. Now the well-deserved lunch and we will move further.
Surprisingly, I would say ordinary, two giant statues shown up – these were the Colossi of Memnon, which are more that tree thousand years old.
The ruins of the ancient building are all around; inactive excavations are here and there. Practically nothing is well-preserved. Meanwhile we can see the mountains ahead. We drive up to the Death Valley.
Egypt Luxor in September – scorching heat up to 50 degrees. The sand seems to melt beneath your feet. We go the tombs. Here they take away the cameras and the mobile phones, so there are no pictures. We notice the security posts here and there in the rocks. The pillboxes, I would say. It seems like the piece of the City of the Dead should still be guarded from the raiders.
We examined three tombs. They are 10-30 meters in the deep with the side branches, low ceilings and the smell is unpleasantly sepulchral. There are some ancient Egyptian frescos on the walls; many of them are covered under the glass. We walked and watched, well, what can be said – if all those pictures managed to remain preserved through all these years without any reconstructions, it is amazing. And the real artifacts and priceless findings have been a long time ago taken from here to Cairo Archeological Museum, Luxor Museum and Mummification Museum.
Here is the last item of the program – The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. It is located apart and a bit aside. We experienced an amazing day in Egypt Luxor. God willing and someday we will see the Pyramids of Giza…