Luxor

In Luxor, the ancient exists amid the contemporary like nowhere else. Life has thrived in villages scattered about mounds of Theban tombs for untold centuries. Colossal temples cast shadows on the bustling streets surrounding them. Evident in the architecture, the food, the clothes people wear, the things they sell and the games they play, Luxorians are remarkably capable of integrating layers of history with the present and future.

Second only to the Pyramids as Egypt's most visited attraction, the ancient capital of Thebes (1567-1085 BC) is among the world's oldest tourist destinations. A city built upon cities of millennia past, the area has been inhabited for at least 6000 years. With an overwhelming number of well-preserved sandstone temples and elaborate tombs, many deem Luxor the world's greatest open-air museum. The remains of Karnak Temple, a vast and beautifully preserved temple complex built over the span of more than 1000 years, are a highlight of any trip if you time your visit right. Luxor Temple, once a refuge for every great religion that thrived in ancient Egypt, rises gracefully alongside the Nile and at night is splendidly lit and open to visitors.

Across the river is the West Bank, spotted with tombs and magnificent mortuary temples, where the Valley of the Kings yields a taste of the profound and vital journey to the next life. Nearby, the intimate and little-visited Tombs of the Nobles reveal in glorious technicolor how everyday life was lived over 3000 years ago. Even for the most avid of Egyptologists, it's wise to be selective about what you choose to visit and intersperse tomb and temple hopping with a bit of repose. A sunset
felucca
ride or sailing to nearby Banana Island, a meander through the colourful
souk
in the centre of town, or just an exploration of the West Bank villages are vital ingredients for a good experience in this tourist-trap town. Luxor also serves as a convenient base for day trips to the temples of Dendara and Abydos to the north, and the temples of Esna and Edfu, to the south.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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