Luxor (Egypt)

Luxor (Egypt)

According to, Luxor is one of the most popular cities in Egypt. For the abundance of architectural monuments, it received the name “open-air museum”.

The city stands on the banks of the Nile in its middle reaches and is 650 km away from Cairo in a southerly direction. It was here that the grandiose capital of the ancient Egyptian state was once located, which the ancient Egyptians called Waset, the Greeks – Thebes, and the Arabs – al-Uksur – “palaces”.

Thebes have been known since the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. e. Under the pharaohs of the XI dynasty (XXII-XX centuries BC), who united all of Egypt, they became the capital and remained so in the era of the Middle and New Kingdoms, although some pharaohs chose other cities as their residence. In the X-VIII centuries. BC e. Thebes is losing its political significance, while remaining a religious center. Gradually, the city began to turn into a provincial one, which it remains to this day.

On the territory of Luxor there are grandiose temple ensembles. On the right bank of the Nile are the temples of Karnak and Luxor, connected by alleys of sphinxes. The Luxor temple was built by two emperors – Ramses II and Amenhotep III and is dedicated to three Theban deities: the solar “king of the gods” Amun-Ra, his heavenly wife Mut and their moon son Khonsu. Karnak Temple is the greatest place of worship in history.

On the western (left) bank of the Nile was the royal residence and a huge necropolis (Valley of the Kings and Queens). The necropolis includes 42 royal tombs. All of them were carved into the rocks, as the builders tried to hide them from the robbers as carefully as possible. All the tombs were built according to a similar plan: an inclined corridor up to 200 m long, steeply descending to a depth of up to 100 m and ending in three or four rooms. The walls and ceilings of the corridors and rooms are covered with color drawings that have not lost their brightness to this day, telling about the life and exploits of the deceased.

Western Thebes was not only the burial place of Egyptian kings and queens. Hundreds of courtiers, priests and high-ranking dignitaries were buried here, striving to stay close to their rulers even after death. Their tombs are located along the eastern slope of the Theban mountains and form another necropolis – the Valley of the Nobles.. Despite the fact that most of the tombs date back to the reign of the kings of the XVIII and XIX dynasties, the first burials of the Valley belong to the Old Kingdom. The tombs of nobles, as a rule, consist of several parts – an open courtyard, the space of which was limited by walls, a sanctuary and a burial chamber going underground. The reliefs and paintings of the tombs of the nobles are rightfully considered masterpieces of Egyptian art. Their walls were most often decorated with scenes from earthly life. Unfortunately, all the tombs were plundered in antiquity, and only the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered by the English archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 in complete safety.

One of the most interesting monuments of Western Thebes is the village of Deir el-Medine or the Valley of Artisans.. For more than 500 years, artisans lived in this place, whose hands created and maintained the grandiose royal necropolis of the New Kingdom. In the southeastern part of Deir el-Medina, about 70 houses were preserved in which artisans lived. All of them were erected on a stone foundation, and their walls were made of mud bricks. As a rule, dwellings consisted of three rooms. External doorways were painted red, and the name of the owner of the house was written on the door. The northwestern part of the settlement is occupied by the tombs of masters who have gone to another world. The tombs are a small courtyard surrounded by a wall and a pyramid, near the base of which is the entrance to one or more underground chambers.

In the vicinity of Luxor there is a terraced temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the only female pharaoh, as well as giant statues of pharaoh Amenhotep III, which will be called the Colossi of Memnon. Temple of Queen Hatshepsut different from the temples of other Egyptian rulers. It is located at a great distance from the buildings of other rulers, in the very depths of the Theban necropolis. At the very border of the desert and irrigated land, a giant pylon was erected, from which a processional road went to the temple itself. This path, about 37 meters wide, was guarded on both sides by sphinxes made of sandstone and painted with bright colors. Directly in front of the temple, a garden of outlandish trees and shrubs was laid out. Two sacred T-shaped lakes were also dug here. The temple itself was truly an engineering marvel of the ancient Egyptians. Carved into limestone rocks, it consisted of three huge terraces, located one above the other. On each of the terraces there was an open courtyard, covered rooms with columns – porticos – and a sanctuary that went into the thickness of the rock. The tiers of the temple were connected by ramps – sloping roads that replaced the stairs and divided the terraces into southern and northern parts. During the period of early Christianity, the temple of Hatshepsut was turned into a Coptic church, and later fell into disrepair and turned into ruins. Edward Naville, who began systematic exploration of the area in 1891, could not even imagine that the Hatshepsut temple would ever be restored. Many fragments of sculpture and reliefs were taken outside Egypt. However, in 1961, Polish restorers set about restoring this complex, but their work continues to this day. Year after year, they collect bit by bit and recreate reliefs, statues, architectural elements.

The unique monuments of ancient art found in the city and associated with all stages of its history can be seen in the most interesting expositions of the Egyptian Museum, Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum.

From Luxor you can make interesting trips to the major archaeological centers of Upper Egypt. 67 km north of the city, on the west bank of the Nile, is the oldest cult center of the goddess of love Hathor. Near the city of El Balyan is the ancient Abydos with the incredible beauty of the temple of Pharaoh Seti I, dedicated to the god Osiris, the lord of the underworld. 54 km south of Luxor is the well-preserved temple of the potter god Khnum in Esna, and another 53 km to the south – Edfu – the famous sanctuary of the falcon god Horus, the ancestor of all Egyptian pharaohs.

Luxor (Egypt)

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