The meaning of Luxor
Luxor is one of the oldest cities in the world; we don't know when exactly Luxor was built. The ancient Egyptians called the city "waset" that means the scepter, but the Greeks called it Thebes of the hundred gates and the Romans - Dios Polis Magana. At last when the Arab conquered Egypt they gave it the name of Luxor and it means the palaces as the city has lots of ancient temples. 2/3 world's monuments are located in Luxor.
Luxor, which developed into the great capital of the Egyptian empire, had no particular importance during the 1st thousand years of Egypt’s ancient history. It was only after the collapse of the Old kingdom when the Thebans emerged victorious and launched Egypt on its second great period: the middle Kingdom. However Luxor was the capital for only a short period. The most significant even in Luxor was introduction of the god Amon Ra and the building of modest shrines in his honour.
The New Kingdom was the empire period, as trade flourished, Luxor became paramount among the cities of Egypt. Caravans from the conquered territories, laden with gold & silver, precious metals, ivory, timber, spices, rare flora & fauna, made their way to Upper Egypt. The priests of Amon-Ra, into whose hands a vast portion of the wealth was pouring acquired increasing influence, and the pharaohs ordered the construction of marvelous monuments in honour of their gods. They declared that Amon-Ra was not only “God of Karnak” and “God of Thebes”, but was in fact “King of Gods” and their priesthood was second to none. With wealth pouring into the state capital pharaohs tried to outdo one another in the magnificence of their monuments.
Luxor East bank
Ancient Luxor was the seat of the sun god/king of the gods Amun-Re from ca 2000 BC to 500 AD. The entire city on both sides of the Nile was vast complex of temples divided into four distinct sections. Luxor temple, Ipt Rsyt, the site of Amun-Re's birth and locus of cosmic creation, is located on the east bank, the land of the rising sun. Three kilometers to the north on the east bank lies massive Karnak Temple, Ipt Swt, where Amun resided in palatial splendor for most of the year. Across the river in the land of the dead rose the royal mortuary temples or "temples of millions of years", ranged along the desert edge, where Amun-Re and the deceased kings were worshiped in the form of the setting sun. Finally, at the southern end of mortuary-temple field and directly across the river from Luxor temple lies the small Amun temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III, Djesr Set, which was considered to be the traditional burial palace of Amun and the eight primeval gods. This temple was later enclosed within the precinct walls of Ramesses III's mortuary complex at Medinet Habu, "United with Eternity". In the desert cliffs of western Thebes, The Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens protected the royal dead of the New Kingdom, while the desert foothills between them housed the necropolis of the nobility, known as the Tombs of the Nobels.
Because the Egyptians believed that time was an endless repeating circle, Amun-Re of Karnak was obliged to return to Luxor temple once a year to reenact creation and to be reborn during the Festival of Opet, one of the greatest celebrations in the Egyptian religious calendar. The two great temple complexes were connected by a long Sacred Road, that from at least the time of Nectanebo I (380-362 BC) was paved with sandstone blocks, many of them reused from earlier monuments, and bordered by hundreds of painted sandstone androsphinxes, bearing the king's head with a lion's body, symbolizing his strength and kingship over all of nature.
Let’s start our exploration of the city from its east bank. The 1st place to visit is no doubt Luxor temple. It is situated in the middle of the city and cannot be missed by any reason. The best time to visit the temple is in the early morning as it opens its doors at 6 am and you will have enough time to explore its premises together with open air museum before the sun starts to shine much. This beautiful temple was built on the east bank of the Nile by Amenhotep 3, “the Magnificent.” The temple was dedicated to the Theban triad: the great god Amon-Ra, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. The temple suffered some damage in the reign of Amenhotep’s son Akhenaten, when the name and figure of Amon were erased, but it was reconstructed in the reign of Tutankhamon and Haremhab. In the 19th Dynasty, Ramses II carried out major work there, particularly when he constructed a new court and entrance.
Just right in front of the entrance pylons of Luxor temple you will find newly restored Sphinxes Avenue, once led from Luxor temple to Karnak. If you go out of Luxor temple and follow the avenue, now partially uncovered and restored the path will lead you to Karnak temple. So do not miss this experience and walk a couple of kilometers along the avenue to discover this ancient kings’ path. Many parts of the avenue is still hidden behind urban areas, some remains of sphinxes can be seen right in front of the houses.
The Great temple of Amon at Karnak
Now, after a walk along the avenue we find ourselves in front of Karnak temple, but not the main entrance, so some more efforts to reach the entrance and we are in the world known site of Egypt The Great temple of Amon at Karnak. The Sun Temples of Akhenaten suffered from being reused by the successive pharaohs. Thousands of distinctly uniform, decorated sandstone blocks, known as talataat, were buried beneath the Hypostyle Hall and the Second Pylon, as well as within the core of the Ninth & Tenth Pylons. Now Egyptologists try to trace the history of the temple of Amon at Karnak through reused or buried evidence. The temple is very huge so it takes time to explore it, but there is a place there known not to all visitors. Karnak Open Air Museum is the place to explore while touring inside the temple. The museum will reveal you many ancient Egyptian artifacts and Chapels that can be seen just here. Recently the museum got its new add-on newly restored chapel of Queen Hatshepsut, the 2nd one already in the museum.
Karnak temple is situated on the Nile bank, so it is a short distance from the temple to Cornish. After you finish Karnak temple exploration you may wish to walk along the Nile to get fresh breeze and here we will find two more interesting places to visit. The 1st one is Mummification museum and next one is Luxor museum. Next day you can explore West bank of Luxor and discover even more interesting places to visit, tombs and temples to explore.
Last update: 2016-10-12