Luxor has been called the greatest open-air museum in the world, and I would have to agree. Luxor was at its best between the 11th and 16th centuries BC. Coming from a country that is 150 years old, I can not even comprehend that amount of old. The city of Luxor is built on the east bank of the Nile. The Valley of the Kings is across the river.
Luxor and Karnak Temples are the dominant structures in Luxor. Both complexes are huge, and both are well preserved and the reconstruction is ongoing. Many parts of both places are in their original state and it is incredible to see how they have withstood the time and elements.
Both temples can easily be visited on your own. Doing some research before your visit will greatly enhance your time. I so enjoyed wandering around trying to imagine what things were like when they were built – and also how they were built. It is so unfortunate the tourism industry in Egypt is currently suffering hard times. Often there would only be 2 or 3 tour buses in a parking lot that could hold 100. I felt so fortunate to be able to spend so much time almost alone.
Taking a tour of the West Bank is the easiest option to see the Valley of the Kings, and some of the lesser known sites. The Valley of the Kings is really just a big gravel pit, but once you enter the tombs the colours and details of the paint is beyond belief. A 6-hour tour that included transport and guide was less than $3. and none of the admission fees cost more than $6.
I also got to visit Hatshepsut’s, Mortuary Temple. I felt it was best just seen from a distance. We also stopped to see the two huge Colossi of Memnon statues and Medinet Habu. The latter was certainly one of my favourites as there was a lot of very well preserved hieroglyphics. How many man hours did it take to create that incredible work?
I rode a felucca on the Nile to see the sunset, and a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings to see the sunrise.
Luxor was a great lesson in history, and the best part – there was no test after.