To all the travelers up there, wanderers, historians, world lovers, Luxor must be on your “must see( understand, love)” list.
While we are all dreaming to someday visit The Pyramids, wondering around one of the 7th wonders of the world, will have a bigger significance if first we take a detour on the land of Pharaohs, learn their history, and have a clue of what those Majestic constructions are all about.
Luxor is the artifact of years of tumultuous history. Love stories with Kings and Queens, hate, revenge, superstition, magic, all of which are greatly depicted on every stone.
“An open air museum” as many historians are seeing it, and containing the second biggest worship temple in the world *just slightly behind Angkor Wat in Cambodia*, Luxor is the dream of every history lover, and should be a must for every passionate traveler.
Despite its historical treasure, after the revolution that took place in Cairo in 2013, tourist rate dropped drastically in Luxor even though Cairo continues to enjoy its touristic attention.
I was about 10 when I first heard about Egypt and Tutankhamen a age when symbolism was not more than a fancy ward and didn’t keep me from falling in love with the fascinating stories of Pharaohs and Semi-Gods.
At that age, my appreciation for a too complex history, converted in a formal respect leaving out the need for further investigation.
Years passed by and my latent love for Pharaohs stories converted in a more mature interest in culture.
Living in Middle East for the last 3 years and being surrounded with so many different cultures, inclusive Egyptian, acted like a trigger, reminding me of my childhood fascination with Pharaohs.
As many others, at the beginning I thought I will be able to apace my soul in Cairo, visiting the Great Wonder, the Pyramids. However it was not it, I couldn’t find myself in Cairo.
Indeed the construction is out-striking and definitely worth visiting but somehow lacks the footprints of its historical significance since is closed to public view in major part and one can find out more about its interior from the Egyptian museum or Louvre in Paris.
Luxor came as a healing for my expectations, I didn’t know much about the place or what to expect but I had to give Egypt another chance.
The Luxor experience!!
Scattered all over the city, Tombs, Museums, Temples, are all paying testimony to a mysterious era of God-like Kings and Queens.
I woke up in the middle of the most fascinating story of the humankind. Every rock and every wall is taking you to a trip in to the ancient Egypt.
I used to see Hieroglyphs as more than a way of transmitting simple information, and more like encrypted codes from Gods letting to the mortals their secrets.
While I am not believing anymore in secret inscriptions and codes, the Pharaohs did made sure they will be immortal. They are living in our collective memories trough pages of history encrypted on walls, through their temples and mummification.
They were actually believing that their soul will return taking the shape of a bird and looking for their body. Hence all the struggle of the mummification and the architecture of their tombs.
The body must be placed in a straight line from the entrance they say, so the bird can easily find it. No wonder no Pharaoh has returned since all the mummies have been taken out of the tombs. The birds must have had a hard time looking for the museums. 🙂
Descending into Luxor you can already feel that something is setting this city apart. Extremely green and clean, Luxor is totally opposite to the Cairo’s frenetic modernization.
People here have found their way in agriculture and family life. Friendly and well mannered, they make the best host you will encounter in Egypt
Finding a good hotel here is an extremely easy task. Along the east bank or the modern side of the city you will have dozens of 5 star hotels at a very convenient price. If mingling with the locals is your purpose, the west bank offers a variety of traditional and modern apartments. A great quality for a great price.
The Nile river is separating Luxor in two equally fascinating sides.
The east bank takes you in a historical journey trough temples and museums between which Karnak and Luxor temples are the most famous.
The second largest complex in the world, Karnak, has been Luxor’s main place for worship for 3000 years. Dedicated to Amun, his wife Mut and his sun Montu, the temple is charged with a huge amount of symbolism and mystery.
Closely relates and connected with Karnak, by the Avenue of the sphinx, Luxor Temple is known to be set apart by not being dedicated to a specific God but mostly used by the Kings for coronations and celebrations.
The Cornice side is the best place to make your way from a temple to the other and stop for a quick visit at the Luxor Museum and for a sunset ride on the Nile.
While dozens of private boats are waiting to take you on the other side of the Nile, the best way to experience the Luxor lifestyle is to take the National Ferryboat. Running 24h, it will cost you just around 25 cents(1 pound) and taking your change it will be insisted upon.
People will follow your every move and you in turn will follow theirs. Curious and a bit hesitant some will ask for your name and where are you from, and you will smile back and try to do your best to impress by replaying a ward or two in Arabic.
The West bank is the home of the Pharoes or if you want a more accurate description ” their eternal rest territory “. The Kings Valley and The Queens valley, the place of burial of the kings and queens of Egypt are strategically positioned on the west bank symbolizing the fall of the sun on the west. and also for a natural protection between mountains.
The only ancient construction that will appear out of the pattern in a burial area is the Hatshepsut Temple. The majestic construction was built between 7th and 22nd year of her reign and is said to be connected to her burial place in the Kings Valley.
The first female to be ruling Egypt Hatshepsut is depicted as a man, however most of her portraits were destroyed by her step sun Thutmose III.
Stories are saying that Hatshepsut step-sun destroyed her portrait so when her spirit will want to return, it will not have an image to return to.
Roaming around the Kings Valley temples is like shifting pages in a history book. Every Tomb is engraved with encrypted stories and mythical beings supposed to help the spirit reach the afterlife.
However nothing compares with standing in front of the mommy of Tutankhamen. The only king still in his grave and not a museum, seeing a 3000 years preserved body of one of the most controversial kings of Egypt is breathtaking.
Less tall than I imagined and as I found out later, way younger (Tutankhamen died around age 18) I had at just 10 cm away, the figure of the one which inspired my thirst for culture and sparkle my childhood fascination for Pharaohs.
Seeing the 18 years old king has forced me to admit once more the power of symbolism and how the beliefs in forces out of this world is so needed when one has to preserve the authority and power.
Theories are saying that Tutankhamen was buried as to appear similar to Osiris the God of afterlife. His mouth open and the blackened body are just part of the facts possibly confirming the theory.
Away from the Tombs and temples, Luxor has still much to offer, from a walk on the cornice stopping by for a local mint tea to a light show and a brief journey in time on the Karnak temple.
From a boat ride on the Nile and stopping by the banana farm where you can have a local dinner by the fireside and a taste of freshly picked bananas, to a incursion on the alabaster manipulation into beautiful works of art on the Qurna village.
Luxor is breathing its history trough every stone and every local can get you back in time over mysterious ancient secrets and fascinating stories told beside a campfire and underneath a cover of millions of stars.