And then Luxor is the gateway to the River Nile cruises of Pharaonic Egypt and a tourist Mecca (and has been since the 19th century Nile steamers used the town as a base). To the north is Abydos and Dendara, to the south Esna, Idfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and Abu Simbel, the world's highest concentration of ancient monuments, dating from c1900BC through to Roman and Byzantine times.
About 50kms south of Luxor and the closest major ruins along the Nile is the Temple of Khnum (ram god). Esna was an important town when the trade route between Egypt and Sudan was developed, and was capital of the Third Nome of Upper Egypt under the Romans.
When discovered in the 1860s, only the Hypostyle Hall was uncovered - the entrance is 10 metres below the level of the ground and the modern town has been built upon what is believed to be extensive ruins.
The claim to fame for the temple and Esna is the forest of columns at the entrance (the roof is still intact) and its ornate ceiling, covered as they are with hieroglyphs, texts and paintings. What is also unusual about Esna is the images themselves - rams, scorpions, crocodiles, winged dogs, two-headed snakes - images that do not feature very frequently elsewhere.
I know why we all go to Luxor and I agree that the most important is to see the anciant monuments but if you have some time go aside from the main bulevards and beautiful cornishe to see what real life looks like for many who live there.
When we were crossing the Bridge from the east to the west bank of the river Nile I spoted the statues on both sides. I supose they are new but nevertheless, they have the nice symbolic meaning. The statues represented Hous, the anciant god of predynastic Egypt, later addopted as a god in pharaoh's times. This falcon statues were put here to "protect" the souls of the dead.
The valley of the Nile is crossed by numerous channels which take water from the river. Owing to this the width of the valley has several kilometers. Where channels are not present, the desert comes closely up to the river. Unfortunately, banks of channels are dirty enough.
the Nile Valley has a lot of birdlife. Look out for this particularly beautiful one, it likes the trees and bushes close to the Nile. If you rent a house with garden you can find it there. Spend an hour alone in the garden with a bottle of wine and the company of the birds. Take time to feel how happy you are. I don't know what the name of this bird is in English, but in norwegian it is called nilsolfugl: Nile Sun Bird :)
Arguably, the west bank contains some of the highest concentration of ancient monuments in the world with the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut's Temple, Ramesseum, and many others all situated here.
After you've had your fill of tombs and monuments, why not enjoy west bank's "minor attractions?" The most striking feature of this more laid back area of Luxor is the sudden contrast in vegetation - from the green fields stretching a few kilometers from the riverbank, to the suddenly arid land where the tombs of ancient Egypt's great nobles lie - a very interesting study in contrast.
I had a wonderful time snapping the picturesque wheat fields set against the brown arid mountains, locals going about their daily lives, canals flowing through an otherwise desert landscape, and of beautiful sunset. The place also provides a refuge, however fleeting, from the touts at the east bank.
After these, reward yourself with a nice, relaxing meal and a cold beer at Africa Restaurant near the ferry terminal.
The market in Luxor is an active, vibrant place.
The sellers always try to sell you food and clothes at "inconvenient and high prices", therefore always remember to "deal and bargain" with them before buying!
In Luxor's Bazaar I found a store that was selling CDs with Egyptian music.
Our tour leader recommended me a compilation of the most famous Egyptian singer Hakim.
I paid something like USD 5-6 for the CD.
Now, back home, I must admit that it the perfect way to remember the days spent in Egypt.
avoid the tour company excursions and search out Hassan Ali Ebrahim. usually to be found on a bench beside the nile facing the entrance to luxor temple. he will show you the things you really want to see and that will make your holiday. this year he showed us a 4000 year old mummy, which we were literally 6 inches from with no glass case between us. he also invited us to his home where an evening of traditional egyptian food and music was enjoyed by all. much cheaper than the tour companies and if you want to make your holiday special then call him on 002 0105705025. you won't regret it, and you'll take home some special memories of a wonderful country.
Queen Hatshepsut ruled Egypt from1486 till 1468. She tried her best to be a stong Pharaoh. She even ordered the schulptors to add a beard to her stautes. And cut her temple in a uniqe style to adapt the slope of the hill.
To have a full panorama zoom out from the sky, enjoy and explore.
The village of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (or simply Qurna) is built on top of the tombs in the Valley of the Nobles. Most of these houses have been cleared and the people removed to a new village but some of the locals refuse to go. There is no water in the village so the locals have to fetch the water in carts drawn by donkeys. The locals are very friendly and they will show you which tombs you can visit. They also like to have their photographs taken and expect a fee so be warned!
But we shouldn't forget our guides! Yes, these two guys were our guides. The one on the right is Vladan, our tourist guide, and the one on the right is Ahmed, a local guy. Very nice and very young
Why did I put this as a tip? Simply because people usualy don't have fun with their guides on travels, unless they are having a friend as a guide. So this is definitly an "Off the beatten path" tip by all means.
This small temple was dedicated to the Goddess Hathor and Ma'at. It was built by Ptoemy IV. The temple was later used by the early christians, whose incribed crosses can be seen on the walls. If you want to visit this temple, you can get a taxi to the Valley of the artisans. Walk past the worker's village and you will find it about half way to the valley of the Nobles. It is no more than a fifteen minute walk. You will find the ground littered with shards of pottery some of which have rather nice pattens on them. The large hole in the ground is an ancient well.
There is a weekly market, held every Wednesday on the west bank. It is not far from the local ferry pehaps a five minute taxi ride. If you have time it is well worth a visit as this is where the locals come to shop for their fruit and vegetables as well as clothes shoes ect. you can also buy your fresh chicken here (live) plus your lamb also live. You will get some excellent photographs here as the brightly coloured fruits contrast well with the black clothing of the women. We bought bananas here and although they did not look as attractive as they do in the supermarkets back home they were better tasting and so very cheap, only a few Egyptian le's for 2 kilos. There is always lots of children around and they always make for good photographs. When I was writing my notes I found the children wanted my pen so next time I go I will be taking a few BICs with me.
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