Saturday, May 7, 2016

Egypt - Luxor

Egypt has cool places to see outside of Cairo. One spectacular such place is Luxor, which has enveloped the ruins of the ancient city of Thebes. The combined sites of the Temple at Karnak and the Valley of the Kings means that a lot of tourists have frequented this area, and tourism is very important to the local economy.
We loved our visit.

There are lots of folks trying to see everything from mule rides to woven rugs.

We didn't come for the rugs though.

The Karnak Temple Complex is a massive place with tons of visitors, and even though only one of the three main parts of the entire place are open to the public, there is also an almost overwhelming amount of stuff to see. This open section is called the Precinct of Amun-Ra, and it is stunning.

You can sense the passage of the ages simply standing in a place with this much history.

Many parts of the temple are still undergoing extensive restoration.

Locals will, for a fee, escort people into areas normally off-limits.

The columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall are of a staggering height and proportion. This whole place is an absolute marvel and wonder.

We wanted to take an entire day to wander around the Karnak complex. Construction began here around 2000 BC and continued for hundreds of years. Most of the work was done during what is called the New Kingdom, from the 16th to 11th century BC.

There are some really incredible ancient artifacts here, from obelisks to whole temples.

After soaking in the many sights of Karnak, there is still so much more to visit and explore in Luxor.

We took a ride across the Nile River. On the opposite side, sites like the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings await your visit at  Deir el-Bahari, literally meaning, "The Northern Monastery."

We aren't used to doing the typical thing, and so we skipped taking a taxi from the pier where we left the boat and instead decided to just walk to the Valley of the Kings.

It turned out to be a much longer walk than we anticipated. On the way we saw some local flavor.

Adorable kids running to meet mom.

This is a local papyrus shop where we stopped in for a rest. The proprietor was really friendly. He taught us about the process of making paper and served us tea.

We also got to take a stroll past the Colossi of Memnon, an unexpected treat.

It was also at this point that we realized that our destination was on the other side of that mountain behind the statue. We knew then, it was time to find a taxi. 

We were luckily able to just flag someone down on the road. He took us the rest of the way to the Valley, and agreed to wait for us as we explored the area, which was wonderful.

There isn't much to photograph here. These burial sites weren't meant to attract a lot of attention. They are in the middle of a desert to hopefully ward off robbers.

When you descend underground into a funeral chamber, you see something like what's below. That's basically it. We went to several of them before calling it a day.

The other main attraction of Luxor and the Theban Necropolis that we were interested in is the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

Egypt has enlisted the assistance of many nations in the preservation, restoration and study of many of its ancient artifacts. This place is no exception, with the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw bearing primary responsibility for the excavation and reconstruction of this temple.

The temple stretches out in front of you and behind lies a desert with the greenery of Luxor beyond.

Hatshepsut was a prolific builder and raised many temples and monuments during her reign. After her death, her son attempted to erase her from the historical record. Was he jealous that she had ascended the throne to rule in his place? He had been proclaimed pharaoh at the ripe old age of 2. He didn't seem to grow up much. Even though there was a systematic effort to destroy everything she'd built, clearly the job wasn't done well enough to remove her from the pages of history.

For a fee, you can pose with a local.

Egypt is a fabulous place that we loved visiting. I hope to return one day.

Check out our time in Cairo and Aswan as well...

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